What I Learned From the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program

In 2019, I was one of 60 people chosen to be a part of the Presidential Leadership Scholars; which is a non-partisan program to bring together leaders to learn from the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Here are the top five lessons I learned from our former presidents I’ll apply in my run for Governor of Illinois.

  1. LBJ was known as the “Master of the Senate ” because he understood incentives and the levers of power, which he used to move legislation forward. Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ provides a close look into the corrupting nature of machine politics- exactly what we have here in Illinois. We have a super-majority of Democrats in our legislature. Republicans have to confront this machine if we have any hope of pushing through legislation to advance our agenda.
  2. “There is no definition of a successful life that does not include service.” George H.W. Bush spoke of “a thousand points of light”; highlighting the ways individuals all around the country serve their neighbors in need to make America great. In a similar vein, we’re going to share the stories of our “Illinois Heroes” along the campaign trail, to shed light on those who live a life of service to make #IllinoisStrong. Please share any ideas for great businesses, community organizations, and leaders with [email protected]
  3. Bill Clinton advised that whenever you meet somebody who strongly disagrees with your views ask them to share the story behind their views. This helps remind us that there is an individual behind every opinion. We live in a diverse and divided state, my goal is to help Illinoisans realize that we have more that unites us, than divides us.
  4. George W. Bush hammered in the importance of focus – both in campaigning, and in governing. During his campaign for governor of Texas, a reporter asked him when he would stop talking about his five campaign pillars. He responded, “Once we accomplish them.” The focus of our campaign will be taxes, corruption, and crime. And we won’t be distracted by anything else, until they are fixed.
  5. Even though Abraham Lincoln wasn’t one of the administrations we learned from, I lived a couple miles away from where he moved into politics and he has always been my hero. “With firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right” is one of my favorite Lincoln quotes. People of Illinois deserve a Governor who will discern what is right and pursue it with firmness and conviction. I want to be that leader for Illinois as Governor.

It will be no single person who will get us back to being a shining city on a hill but rather a group of next generation leaders to transform our great state. Join us in that mission- here.