• Recap of the WHF 2017 Leadership Conference
    For those of you who were able to join us in Washington DC in October 2017 for the Annual Leadership Conference, our thanks. For those who were unable to attend, here are a few key highlights to share.

    On Wednesday, October 25th (the day before the conference), three groups of White House Fellows met to discuss topics of mutual interest to them. One group focused on the “Social Determinants of Health“, another on “National Governance” and a third on “Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems“. Through the course of these working-group meetings the Fellows who participated were able to conduct a deep-dive on these issue sets, and discuss ways they may wish to continue working together in the months ahead.

    On Thursday and Friday of last week, October 26th and 27th, we heard from several Trump Administration speakers, including: HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, and National Security Advisor LTG H.R. McMaster. We also held several panel discussions, on topics that included: 1) “Leading a Fortune 500 Corporation in Challenging Times“, 2) “A New Treasure on the Mall: Establishing the National Museum of African American History and Culture“, 3) “Global Security Challenges“, 4) “The Disaffected In America: Those Who Feel Left Behind“, and 5) a “Media Panel“. Additionally, six White House Fellows gave “Ted Talks” on topics related to their efforts to Foster Civility and help build Civic Institutions.

    During our business meeting Kermit Jones (2012-13) reviewed our key accomplishments of the past year; Kevin Monroe (1996-97) discussed the Treasurer’s Report; Carlos Del Toro (1998-99) discussed the reasons for postponing our planned trip to Cuba in 2018, and our intent to hold a Regional Conference in Miami during the originally planned time period. I provided an update on our upcoming Regional Conference at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum & Library next April, and Dave Rhodes (1993-94) unveiled the 2017 Jack Valenti Friend of the White House Fellows Award, which we will present to Former First Lady Michelle Obama at a future date when her schedule enables her to receive it in person.

    On Thursday evening we presented the Impact Award to Brigadier General Stacey T. Hawkins (2007-08) at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. After the award presentation the 250 White House Fellows and their guests in attendance then explored the museum in all its beautiful, tragic, and inspiring glory.

    On Friday we presented the John Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award to Judge M. Margaret McKeown (1980-81), and were blessed to have 20 of her family members, close friends, and classmates on hand to join in the celebration. We also recognized the Class of 1967-68, who celebrated their golden 50th Anniversary as White House Fellows.

    On Saturday we visited Arlington National Cemetery, and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (popularly referred to as “The Women’s Memorial”). Mrs. Mary Margaret Valenti laid a wreath at the grave of her husband Jack Valenti, and Brigadier General Hawkins (2007-08) represented all White House Fellows when he laid a wreath on our behalf at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

    All of us are greatly indebted to Geoff Shepard (1969-70) for his leadership in spearheading this conference, to Janet Abrams (1994-95) for arranging our visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and to Jack LeCuyer (1977-78) for arranging our visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

    To see photos of the conference, click here.

    Here are a few dates on your “long-range-planning” calendar:

    • February 18-19, 2018: Miami Regional Conference – details to be announced in the weeks ahead (for now, please “save the dates” if you would be interested in attending).
    • April 12-13, 2018: Regional Conference at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, MI. Expect our on-line registration to “go live” for this conference in December of 2017.
    posted: November 5, 2017
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