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Georgetown Professors Design and Teach Leadership with Four U.S. Presidential Centers

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Two Georgetown McDonough professors, Paul Almeida and Michael O’Leary, will collaborate with four presidential centers to design and facilitate the curriculum for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a leadership development program that was announced by President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush at the Newseum earlier this month. [WATCH THE VIDEO; Georgetown appears in a special video starting at 13:15.]

Paul Almeida, professor of strategy and international business, and Michael O’Leary, teaching professor of management, will apply their expertise in designing and delivering executive leadership programs to the development of the academic design of the PLS program. Both President Clinton and President Bush are expected to teach in the program.

The Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program will serve to sharpen leadership skills among individuals who have at least 10 years’ experience in the private, public, nonprofit, or military sectors. Participants will use the resources of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Clinton Foundation, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the LBJ Foundation to connect with the best minds in leadership studies, gain insights of the former presidents and from the people who served with them, and develop practical leadership skills. The scholars will apply these leadership skills to develop projects designed to make a positive difference to society.

For Almeida, who also is the senior associate dean of executive education for both degree and non-degree programs, the program’s unique structure and resources lend themselves to an extraordinary opportunity for leaders in any and all fields.

“These presidents have had to deal with challenges and leadership decisions that few others have,” Almeida said. “They can share with us their insights into navigating these challenges in a way that will benefit the community and contribute to society.”

Almeida and O’Leary worked with the four participating presidential centers to design the curriculum for the program, placing special emphasis on the personal leadership qualities required of presidents to act effectively in high-stress and high-consequence situations. Scholars will work with other scholars, guest speakers, and program faculty to hone leadership skills in the four key areas: vision and communication, decision-making, persuasion and influence, and coalition-building, using examples of presidential leadership throughout.

“We have something unique and a program that pairs four presidential centers together that really tell the story of some very consequential issues, and it just made sense that they come together and help steward this next generation of young civically inclined Americans,” said George W. Bush Presidential Center President Margaret Spellings. “And who better to nurture young leaders than leaders themselves?”

In addition to scholarship in leadership style and strategy, the program also will help empower participants to launch their own civically conscious projects, through which they will utilize the skills developed during the Presidential Leadership Scholars program to effect positive social change in a bipartisan fashion, another hallmark of the PLS program.

“The students will be coming into the program with an idea for a project to launch that will create some social good,” Almeida said. “We can give them the tools they need to successfully implement their plans, and make an improvement in their communities.”

Individuals with a strong record of professional achievement are invited to apply before the deadline of Oct. 27. Notification will be sent to accepted applicants by Dec. 31. The program’s first sessions will begin in February 2015.

-David Chardack