An oddball bit of presidential history gets made tonight in Dallas. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will share a stage at the Bush Presidential institute with billionaire Shark Tank panelist and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
The presidential and entrepreneurial trio will headline the graduation of the inaugural class of Presidential Leadership scholars.
They were picked from leaders across the country who proposed projects to improve their communities. The CEO of Dallas’ Uplift Education charter schools, Yasmin Bhatia, is one of those graduating. While participating, she felt relieved of work stress, and in a place executives can’t always find.
“I felt very comfortable sharing mistakes I’ve made in the past and what I’ve learned from those,” Bhatia explains, “and I feel like it’s been a very safe space for others to do that as well, so we really could create a learning environment that was authentic for one another.”
Over the last six months, Bhatia took occasional classes with ex-presidents, their cabinet members, and 59 other students who represented public, private, academic, and military interests. They spent time at the Presidential Centers of Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.
One consistent bit of advice Bhatia picked up: always get a variety of opinions and perspectives.
“So I’ve noticed over the past six months,” Bhatia says, “even in Uplift, I’ve been far more pro-active about getting input inside and outside our organization to inform decisions we’re making.”
Bhatia’s project? She wants to create a public school principal fellowship where participants come up with a big idea to improve their schools, then implement and tweak the idea.
First, though, she has to graduate tonight the Bush Institute.