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Thank you for your interest in the Presidential Leadership Scholars program.


Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) brings together bold and principled leaders who are committed to facing critical challenges, both at home and around the world, and who are interested in exploring lessons learned during the administrations of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. We are looking for people who have the desire and capacity to build upon their strengths to improve people’s lives.


The program assembles a unique and diverse cohort of high-potential leaders. Scholars most successful in the program, share certain characteristics:

  • Civically minded: Acts to improve society.
  • Open to feedback: Seeks, mindfully accepts, and actively responds to assessments of their behavior and performance.
  • Accepting of diverse points of view: Welcomes opportunities to interact with and learn from others with different backgrounds or perspectives.
  • Meaningful professional experience: Has breadth and depth of professional experience -- typically 10+ years -- and will build on the PLS experience for years to come.
  • Demonstrated leadership: Presents an established record of engagement and leadership. (PLS is not an introductory course in leadership.) 
  • Influence: Is in a position to implement the change they desire.   
  • Committed to the program: Can fully participate in a rigorous and intense six-month program.


The PLS program challenges Scholars to develop their leadership skills in an environment in which individuals’ experiences are seen as strengths and are respected, supported, and valued. Within this welcoming and inclusive climate, Scholars are expected to do the following both in and out of the program: 

  • Engage in deep reflection about their personal leadership development, including acknowledging habits of exclusion and creating new habits of inclusion.
  • Commit to meaningful interactions with others whose life experiences and perspectives are different than their own, even if those interactions are uncomfortable. 
  • Include diverse perspectives in the framing of challenges and consideration of responses.  
  • Work to ensure the full participation of others in influencing change. 
  • Seek understanding with others, especially when they disagree. 


Program participants are required to attend an onboarding webinar, all six modules and fully participate in all module activities. All expenses, including housing, meals, and domestic travel during the sessions are provided by the program at no cost to the Scholars.

  • Onboarding Webinar: January 9, 2024 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM (CT)
  • Module One: January 23 – January 27, 2024
  • Module Two: February 22 – February 24, 2024  
  • Module Three: March 21 – March 23, 2024
  • Module Four: April 25 – April 27, 2024
  • Module Five: May 16 – May 18, 2024
  • Module Six: June 12 – June 15, 2024


You are required to apply with a Personal Leadership Project (PLP) that you will work on throughout the program. This project may represent the next step in an initiative on which you are already working, or the first step in a new project. The project should provide you with the opportunity to apply the skills and competencies learned throughout the program. We expect Scholars to have adequately thought through many of the important elements required to achieve a significant outcome by the end of the program:

  • Focus on a socially-relevant initiative. 
  • Have an achievable six-month goal, even if the project itself will be achieved over a longer timeframe than six months.
  • Leverage the Scholar’s existing knowledge and experience.  
  • Benefit from participation in the program.  


Throughout this application, you will be required to provide personal background information (academic, professional, etc.), responses to essay questions, recommendations, and a summary of your Personal Leadership Project. 

All application materials, including recommendations, must be submitted online by 11:59 PM CT Sunday, July 9, 2023. Following a thorough review of each application, we will invite a group of applicants to interview for final selection into the program. Finalists will be notified by mid-September if they have been invited to participate in the interview process. Interviews will be conducted in early October, and final acceptance decisions will be made in December 2023.

Again, thank you for your interest in the Presidential Leadership Scholar program. We look forward to getting to know you through this application process.

Please click “Next >>” to start your application.