Laura Bush, former First Lady of the United States, is an advocate for literacy, education and women’s
rights. After leaving the White House, President and Mrs. Bush founded the George W. Bush Presidential
Center in Dallas, Texas. The Center is home to the Bush Presidential Museum and Library and the George
W. Bush Institute, a public policy center established to solve today’s most pressing challenges by
developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action.
As Chair of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, Mrs. Bush promotes access to education, healthcare,
and economic opportunity for women and girls around the world. The Women’s Initiative programs are
preparing and empowering the next generation of women leaders in North Africa and the Middle East,
working to ensure the expansion and protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan, and engaging and
supporting First Ladies from around the world to effectively use their unique platforms to advance issues
for women and girls in their countries.
Laura Bush is a leading voice for spreading freedom and promoting human rights across the globe. For
more than a decade, she has led efforts through the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council to protect the hardearned
rights of women in that country. As First Lady, she made three trips to Afghanistan and in 2001
she delivered the President’s weekly radio address—a first for a First Lady—to direct international
attention to the Taliban’s oppression of women.
Long a supporter of the people of Burma, in 2006 Laura Bush hosted a roundtable discussion on Burma at
the United Nations headquarters in New York. After Cyclone Nargis devastated the country in May 2008,
she held an unprecedented press conference in the White House Press Briefing Room and urged the
ruling junta to accept international aid. She then traveled to the Thai-Burma border, where she met with
Burmese refugees. In 2012, Mrs. Bush helped to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal to Burmese
opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The legislation awarding the medal to Daw Suu was signed by
President Bush in 2008 when she was still living under house arrest in Burma.
As First Lady, Mrs. Bush advocated the importance of literacy and education to advance opportunity for
America’s young people and to foster healthy families and communities. She highlighted the importance
of preparing children to become lifelong learners, convening in 2001 a White House Summit on Early
Childhood Cognitive Development. Laura Bush has visited schools around the world and met with
students in nations from Afghanistan to Zambia, with a particular focus on the education of girls and
women. Mrs. Bush worked with the Library of Congress to create the National Book Festival in
Washington, D.C. in 2001. The National Book Festival continues to this day and annually attracts more
than 120,000 Americans. The Texas Book Festival in Austin was founded in 1996 by Mrs. Bush while she
was First Lady of Texas. At the Bush Institute in Dallas, President and Mrs. Bush’s Education Reform
initiative works to improve student achievement through effective school leadership, middle school
transformation, and the use of accountability.
Because heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women, in 2003 Laura Bush
partnered with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to launch The Heart Truth campaign and the
Red Dress project. The Heart Truth campaign aims to raise awareness among women about their risk for
heart disease. In 2006, she helped launch the first international partnerships for breast cancer awareness
and research. As First Lady, she visited countries in Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America
to support programs that help women detect breast cancer early so they can seek treatment when it has
the best chance of success. Mrs. Bush has visited more than a dozen countries to support the President’s
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative. Laura and George Bush continue
their work to promote women’s health through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an independent affiliate of the
George W. Bush Institute and a global partnership fighting women’s cancers.
Mrs. Bush is the author of the bestselling memoir, Spoken From the Heart, and bestselling children’s
book, Our Great Big Backyard. She serves on many boards, including the National Advisory Board for the
Salvation Army, the Council for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and
Culture, the Board of Trustees for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the SMU Board of
Laura Bush was born in Midland, Texas, to Harold and Jenna Welch. She holds a Bachelor of Science
degree in education from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in library science from
the University of Texas. She taught in public schools in Dallas, Houston and Austin and worked as a public
school librarian. She served as First Lady of Texas from 1995 to 2000.
President and Mrs. Bush are the parents of twin daughters: Barbara, married to Craig Coyne, and Jenna,
married to Henry Hager. The Bushes also are the proud grandparents of Margaret Laura “Mila” and
Poppy Louise Hager. The Bush family also includes two cats, Bob and Bernadette, as well as Freddy the