Celebrating Women Leaders: A Conversation with Former First Lady Laura Bush
By Ida Liu, Head of Citi Private Bank North America March 11, 2021 11:00 AM
I had a wonderful conversation with former first lady Laura Bush in honor of International Women's Day and as part of the Women in Leadership series sponsored by Citi. As we celebrate female trailblazers around the world, I was inspired and grateful to learn of Mrs. Bush's passion supporting women, championing education and literacy and protecting our environment.
Mrs. Bush spoke affectionately about two very important women and influences in her life – her mother, Jenna Welch, and her mother-in-law and another former first lady, Barbara Bush. Mrs. Bush highlighted her mother always emphasized the importance of reading. “People who love to read raise children who love to read,” she said, recalling her mother always had a book in her hand. The passion for literacy can also be seen in her daughter Jenna, who hosts a monthly “Read with Jenna” segment on the Today Show. The two also co-authored a children's book, Our Great Big Backyard, which is a beautiful tribute to the U.S. National Parks. She also expressed gratitude to have had a mother-in-law who previously was a first lady and could share her own experiences and advice for the role. While the pandemic continues to be a struggle for many, Mrs. Bush noted that a silver lining is the time she has spent with her family and having her daughter Barbara back at home while attending graduate school remotely – I know many parents can relate to the joys and challenges of virtual schooling for their kids!
As our conversation progressed, we focused on many of the initiatives Mrs. Bush championed while in the White House, including promoting literacy, education and women's rights. Her work has impacted women around the world, including in Afghanistan where she founded the U.S. Women's Afghan Council, which helped expand women's access to education. She inspired us with her stories of distributing drugs for HIV and AIDS in Africa, as well as providing preventative measures to combat cervical cancer in the region. Seeing Mrs. Bush's passion to help those who lack access to medicine and basic necessities was very humbling and demonstrates how she is a role model for promoting positive change where she sees a need.
It was an honor and a great privilege to spend time with Mrs. Bush and learn more about a woman who is admired by many. She cares deeply about being connected to community and family and making a difference. Mrs. Bush embodies the spirit of International Women's Day through her selfless work, and on behalf of Citi and our clients, we thank Mrs. Bush for sharing her inspiring story with us!