NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo

Join peers and experts at the premier global professional learning and networking event for all international educators and organizations that support international education for the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo, "Global Leadership, Learning, and Change."

Up Close with Laura W. Bush

Laura W. Bush, former First Lady of the United States, was the opening plenary speaker at the NAFSA 2018 Annual Conference & Expo in Philadelphia. Before her plenary, Mrs. Bush spoke with Esther D. Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA, about her ongoing work in promoting educational exchange initiatives with young leaders from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and her continued focus on fighting for women’s rights in Afghanistan.

About Laura W. Bush

Laura W. Bush, former first lady of the United States, is an advocate for literacy, education, and human rights.

As first lady, Mrs. Bush advocated the importance of literacy and education to advance opportunity for America’s young people and foster healthy families and communities. She highlighted the need for preparing children to become lifelong learners, convening a White House Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development in 2001 and creating the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

Today, as chair of the Mrs. Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, she 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, and working to ensure the expansion and protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan. The programs also aim to engage and support first ladies from around the world to effectively use their unique platforms to advance issues for women and girls in their countries.

Mrs. Bush is the author of the best-selling memoir Spoken from the Heart and best-selling children’s book Our Great Big Backyard. She also wrote the foreword to We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope.

Mrs. Bush was born in Midland, Texas. 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.