Dec 21
December 21, 2016

Six Leaders Who Helped Move the World Forward in 2016


The world saw no shortage of social, economic, and environmental challenges in 2016. But thanks in part to an unprecedented leadership development initiative launched by four U.S. presidential centers — two Democrat and two Republican — a diverse new generation of leaders is more prepared than ever to advance solutions to pressing problems across the globe.

Two years ago the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Clinton Presidential Center, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation came together to launch the Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program, a partnership that crosses party lines to help some of the most promising leaders in America reach their potential and create positive change. Each class of scholars is comprised of professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds, geographies, and professional areas including private, public, non-profit, military, and academia.

Like the two classes before them, the soon-to-be-announced 2017 PLS Scholars will learn from the experience and leadership of the four U.S. presidents and increase social good through their own personal leadership projects, collaborating and sharing ideas along the way.

There is more opportunity than ever to overcome the barriers that face communities worldwide. For a glimpse of what tomorrow’s leaders can achieve through collaboration and civic engagement, take a look at the impact made by six PLS alumni in 2016.

Jay Bhatt, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, American Hospital Association

Exemplifying Leadership in the Fight Against AIDS

In 2016, Jay Bhatt joined the PLS program on a mission to train and support the lay health providers standing on the front lines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, where nearly 25 million people are living with the disease. As a scholar in the PLS program, Jay has assisted health workers by ensuring all are sufficiently paid and that that aid clinics are better staffed. Jay also built the Physician Leadership Academy this year to support health providers with the tools needed to lead in the face of systemic challenges.

This year, Jay was named to Crain’s Chicago Business’ “40 under 40” list — read more from Crain’s here.

Diana Mao, President, Nomi Network

Taking Action to Wipe Out Human Trafficking

In 2015, Diana Mao joined the PLS program as the leader of an organization dedicated to curbing human trafficking, a $150 billion industry whose horrors she witnessed firsthand in Cambodia. Concerned about labor trafficking’s outsized role in the perpetuation of modern slavery, Diana works to encourage corporate brands to stand up against child labor. To date, she has engaged multiple brands, thought leaders and advocacy groups in an effort to reduce the slavery footprint of companies around the world.

Read more about Diana’s work with the Nomi Network in her Q&A with the Bush Institute here.

Anne Sprute, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, RallyPoint/6

Helping Members of the Military Transition into Civilian Life

Anne Sprute, a 24 year U.S. Army Veteran, entered the PLS program in 2015 with a passion for supporting Americans who return from military service. As a Presidential Leadership Scholar, she forged relationships that advanced RP/6’s goals of inspiring citizens to bridge the civilian/military divide and engaging veterans to reach their fullest potential. In 2016, Anne announced that the transition and programmatic resources of RP/6 will soon be fully integrated into the USO, enabling the USO to offer services for troops and their families directly on a global platform.

Read more about what motivated Anne to create RallyPoint/6 in this op-edshe wrote for The News Tribune.

Ime Archibong, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Facebook

Closing the Global Digital Divide

2016 scholar Ime Archibong joined the PLS program with a commitment to address the needs of the 4 billion people around the world who remain unconnected to the Internet, a tool that’s become essential to thriving in the 21st century. This year, Ime helped Facebook make progress on, an initiative to provide access to online resources that can better serve, educate, and improve lives in underserved regions.

Watch this CNBC interview with Ime to learn more about his mission to make internet access affordable around the world.

Daniel Anello, CEO, New Schools for Chicago

Advocating Better Educational Opportunities for Underserved Students

Daniel Anello came to the PLS program in 2015 with a concern that Chicago students living in poverty were not receiving an education that adequately prepares them for the future. His goal: to launch an educational platform that would compel Chicagoans to support policies that result in better schools. In 2016, Daniel and his organization launched, a new resource that includes a comprehensive school guide to support parents in finding and enrolling in high-quality schools. He sees their tool coupled with community outreach as critical components to realizing their vision to provide 50,000 more students access to high-quality seats by 2020.

Read more about Daniel’s work with New Schools for Chicago from USA Today and the Chicago Sun Times.

Kevin Causey, President, Saint Francis Foundation

Addressing a Crisis Spurred by the Abuse of Illegal Drugs

2016 Presidential Leadership Scholar, Kevin Causey leads the Saint Francis Foundation in advancing the work of the Tenderloin Health Improvement Partnership (Tenderloin HIP), an initiative created to address the public health crisis facing San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood due to public intravenous drug use. During his time in the PLS program, Kevin challenged fellow Scholars to learn more about the community impact of public drug use at the neighborhood level, leading to their participation in the Urban Solutions Summit convened by the Saint Francis Foundation in August 2016.

Read more about Kevin’s work with the Saint Francis Foundation and his vision for future progress in this op-ed he wrote for the San Francisco Examiner.

Look out for the 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholars class announcement in early 2017, and visit for more updates.