Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 2012

One on One: Laura Bush

By Susan Sarfati, CAE

Yes, that is terrific, and we can stay in touch with them through Skype and the Internet. The program director of the fellowship program stays in daily contact with them, and now they are also meeting with each other. It really has been so effective to them to have this network.

As part of the direction of the fellowship, we guide them to increase their network. Our thinking is, you have met these women from your own country, how can all of you together increase your network and effectiveness? It is a different way to look at it, and it has proven to be very helpful.

What other opportunities are there to learn about leadership at the George W. Bush Library, in addition to the one you just talked about?

That is just the museum part. We are still working on the library, which should be finished by next fall. One of the things we are focused on is leadership skills. What makes a good leader? And how can leaders make good, informed decisions? That is one of the themes running through the museum. The fellowship [program] that I just mentioned is through the Institute.

We are working on four policy areas that were most important to George during the time he was president. The four policy areas are education, human freedom, global health, and the economy. The Women's Initiative that I mentioned runs through all four policy areas. How each one of these policy areas affects women is a strong focus. In fact, George and I are going to Africa for the Pink Ribbon, Red Ribbon initiative, which builds on the AIDS platform that was started when George was president and adding to it the testing, treatment, and vaccine for cervical cancer. That is the predominant cancer in women in Africa now. You know that it comes from a virus and women are now living who are HIV-positive, but they are dying of cervical cancer. So that is our big global health initiative. We are working with the State Department, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the drug companies that make the vaccine for the virus.

The rest of the world looks at the United States and sees the way we both volunteer and view philanthropy. I see many countries that want to build volunteerism and philanthropy in their countries similarly, and I think that's great.

Susan Sarfati, CAE, is CEO of High Performance Strategies, LLC. She served as CEO of The Greater Washington Society of Association Executives and was the founding CEO of The Center for Association Leadership and executive vice president of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). She can be reached at susan@ssarfati.com.

Editors' Note: We thank the Washington Speakers Bureau for making this interview possible.

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