First Ladies Conference Biographies

Barbara Pierce Bush
Barbara Bush often jokes that her successful life is a result of marrying well. Her husband’s service as Vice President and President of the United States provided her a unique opportunity to make a wonderful difference in the public eye. Since leaving the White House in 1993, she continues to serve others with the same energy, goodwill, and humor that endear her to so many people around the world. Born in 1925 to Pauline and Marvin Pierce, she grew up in Rye, New York, where she met and later married George H.W. Bush on January 6, 1945. They have four sons, George W., Jeb, Marvin, and Neil; one daughter, Doro; four daughters-in-law; one son-in-law; 17 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. The Bush’s first daughter, Robin, died in 1953 at the age of four after fighting leukemia.  Public service is a common thread in the Bush family.  Their son George W. served as the Governor of Texas and the nation’s 43rd President, and their son Jeb was the Governor of Florida for two terms.

A tireless advocate of volunteerism, Mrs. Bush helped countless charities and humanitarian causes during her years in public life. Today she enjoys reading to children at schools and hospitals across the nation. Mrs. Bush’s primary cause through the years has been promoting literacy. She believes that so many of our nation’s problems would be solved if every man, woman, and child could read, write, and comprehend.  In 1989 she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy which supports family literacy programs where parents and children can learn and read together.  The Foundation works to bring the benefits of literacy to every family in America by awarding money to build effective family literacy programs. It has awarded over $42 million to create or expand 960 family literacy programs in all 50 states including the District of Columbia, and it helped create and continues to support four statewide literacy programs in Texas, Maine, Florida, and Maryland. Doro Bush Koch and Jeb Bush serve as Co-Chairs and Mrs. Bush serves as Honorary Chair of the Foundation. You can learn more about the Foundation at www.barbarabushfoundation.com. She authored two children’s books, C. Fred’s Story and the best-selling Millie’s Book, whose profits benefited literacy. She also wrote the best-selling Barbara Bush: A Memoir and Reflections: Life After the White House

Laura W. BushLaura W. Bush
Mrs. Laura Bush is actively involved in issues of national and global concern, with a particular emphasis on education, health care and human rights.A former teacher and librarian, Mrs. Bush is an enthusiastic proponent of education and literacy. Mrs. Bush founded the Texas Book Festival and the National Book Festival. Through the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, Mrs. Bush has provided grants to build school library collections.As First Lady, Mrs. Bush traveled to all 50 States and more than 75 countries. Mrs. Bush traveled to Afghanistan where she saw progress achieved by the Afghan people after the fall of the Taliban regime. Mrs. Bush serves as the Honorary Advisor to the US-AfghanWomen’s Council.

In support of President Bush’s life-saving global health initiatives, including the President’sMalaria Initiative (PMI) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR ), Mrs. Bush visited Africa, Asia, and the Americas, where she witnessed first-hand the success of these historic commitments.

Mrs. Bush is an advocate for women’s health and has been an active participant in campaigns to raise awareness of breast cancer and heart disease, both in the U.S. and around the world. 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. In 1977, she met and married George Walker Bush. They are the parents of twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.

Jean BeckerJean Becker
Jean Becker has been chief of staff to Former President George Bush since 1994, supervising his office operations in both Houston, Texas and Kennebunkport, Maine and overseeing the opening of the George Bush Presidential Library Center in 1997.  She took a leave of absence in 1999 to edit and research, All the Best, George Bush; My Life in Letters and Other Writings.  Previously, Ms. Becker served as deputy press secretary to First Lady Barbara Bush from 1989 to 1992.  After the 1992 election, she moved to Houston to help Mrs. Bush with the editing and research of her autobiography, Barbara Bush, A Memoir.  She later assisted Mrs. Bush with a follow-up book, Reflections, published in 2003.Before joining the Bush White House staff in 1989, Ms. Becker was a newspaper reporter for 10 years, including a four-year stint at USA TODAY where her duties included covering the 1988 presidential election and a Page One editor. Ms. Becker grew up on a family farm in Martinsburg, Missouri and was valedictorian of her country high school.  She graduated from the University of Missouri in 1978 with a bachelor’s in journalism and a bachelor’s in arts with a major in political science. She was recognized as an outstanding alumni by the College of Arts and Sciences in 1992. She is a member of the Points of Light Institute Board of Directors, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy Board of Directors, and the C-Change Cancer Board.  She is a member of the advisory boards of The George Bush Presidential Library Center and The George Bush School of Government and Public Service. 

Allida Black 
Allida Black is Executive Editor of the fdr4freedoms Digital Initiative, a web-based education program dedicated to the Four Freedoms: freedom from fear and want and freedom of speech and worship. She is also Research Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, where she serves as Founding Editor and Advisory Board Chair of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers a project designed to preserve and teach Eleanor Roosevelt's writings on politics, democracy and human rights. Dr. Black has written teachers' guides for PBS documentaries and served as an advisor to documentaries prepared for PBS, the History Channel, A&E, and the Discovery Channel. In addition to curating exhibits for international organizations and national historic sites she has written seven books as well as several articles on women, politics, and human rights policy.

Barbara Pierce Bush
Barbara Bush is a passionate—and compelling—voice in the global fight to confront some of the most prevalent health equity issues of our time. As the co-founder and president of the Global Health Corps, an organization that connects outstanding young leaders with organizations working on the front lines in order to promote global health equity, Bush has fully committed her life’s work to improving access to health care in some of the world’s most underserved areas. Under her leadership, the Global Health Corps has won widespread praise for its innovative work including being named one of the 14 most innovative worldwide social start-ups by the Echoing Green Foundation. As an entrepreneur and champion of social justice who is on the front lines of a global movement for greater health equity, Bush shares optimistic stories of empowered people working to make real change in the lives of those most in need. Bush brings her passion and energy to uncover innovative ways—both large and small—that people can get involved and solve problems, not only in their own communities but around the world.

Lisa Caputo
Lisa Caputo is Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Travelers. She oversees marketing, research, corporate communications and brand management and is a member of the company’s Management and Operating Committees. Lisa joined Travelers from Citigroup, where she held senior leadership positions from 2000 to 2011. She was Citi’s first corporate Chief Marketing Officer and oversaw the company’s global marketing, public affairs and community relations functions as Executive Vice President, Global Marketing and Corporate Affairs. She founded Citi’s women’s financial services business, Women & Co., and was its Chairman and CEO from 2000 to 2010.

Lisa held senior executive marketing and communications positions at the Walt Disney Company and the CBS Corporation. She was Deputy Assistant to President Clinton and Press Secretary to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and was a press secretary in the US Senate and US House of Representatives. Lisa is a director of Best Buy Co., Inc. and is on several non-profit boards. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern. She is a television commentator and public speaker on current events, politics and women’s financial issues.

Nancy DavenportNancy Davenport
Nancy Davenport is Interim University Librarian at American University and adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland’s I-School.  Previously she served in the Library of Congress in several capacities including as Associate Director of the Congressional Research Service and Chief of the Rare Books and Director of Acquisitions. In addition to her service at the Library of Congress, Ms. Davenport was  President of the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Director of Library Services for the District of Columbia.   She is on the Board of the Washington Master Chorale, is an advisor to the Fetzer Institute and was a George W. Bush Presidential Appointee to the National Archives, National Historical Publications and Records Commission.   

warren finchWarren Finch
As Director of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Finch brings more than 20 years experience working with the National Archives – first with the Office of Presidential Libraries in Washington, D.C., then with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California and most recently with the Bush Library and Museum. Trained as an archivist, Mr. Finch was detailed to the Bush White House in 1992 to assist with the move of Bush Presidential Materials to Texas and has been in College Station ever since. Mr. Finch earned a master’s in history from Auburn University and a bachelor’s from the University of South Alabama.

Steve FordSteve Ford
Steve Ford has enjoyed a successful acting career for over 25 years appearing in over 30 films and many guest leads in television. Steve’s credits include the films Transformers, Black Hawk Down, Contact, Armageddon, Starship Troopers, and When Harry Met Sally. His numerous guest leads in television include J.A.G., Walker Texas Ranger, Murder She Wrote, Happy Days, and Dr. Quinn. He also hosted the prime time series Secret Service for NBC and starred for six years as a lead character on the Emmy-award winning daytime show The Young and the Restless. Prior to his film career, Steve worked on the professional rodeo circuit, and has served as Associate Vice President and spokesperson of Turfway Park Race Course in Kentucky. Steve has served three years on the Board of Directors of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and currently serves as chairman for The President Gerald R. Ford Foundation. He is the third son of former President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford.

Jenna Bush Hager
Jenna Hager has seen firsthand how small change can make a large difference in a single life. Currently the chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation, an initiative dedicated to reducing the number of preventable childhood deaths around the world, Hager traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean with UNICEF where she saw firsthand the plight faced by the underprivileged. Her experience inspired her to write Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, a New York Times best seller based on the life of a 17-year-old single mother living with HIV and determined to shield her child from the abuse and neglect that riddled her own childhood.

Hager shares her own stories of creating change in someone’s life and leaves audiences with a call to action on how they too can improve people’s lives in their own community. A contributing correspondent for NBC’s Today, Hager shares positive, uplifting messages of regular people doing extraordinary things. Passionate about literacy, education and improving inner-city schools, Hager was herself a teacher in Baltimore, MD. In addition to Ana’s Story, she also co-wrote Read All About It! with her mother, former First Lady Laura Bush.

neil horstmanNeil W. Horstman
Neil Horstman has focused his career on helping communities and historic places achieve their preservation goals. Before entering the field in 1976, Mr. Horstman held several positions in city and regional planning. He has directed private preservation organizations in Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas City, Missouri, and Savannah, Georgia. From 1987-1994, he was Director of Historic Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. From 1994 until 2000, Mr. Horstman served as Executive Vice President of the White House Historical Association and Administrator of the White House Endowment Fund. He was appointed the first salaried President of the association in 2001.

The association, founded by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, publishes educational materials on White House history, supports ongoing scholarship, sponsors national education programs, and financially supports the conservation of the public rooms of the White House and its incomparable collection of fine and decorative arts. Since its founding, the association has contributed more than $36 million for preservation of the White House. Mr. Horstman received his bachelor’s degree in community planning from University of Cincinnati and a master in public and environmental affairs from Indiana University.

David Hume Kennerly
David Hume Kennerly won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for his photos of the Vietnam War and was President Gerald R. Ford’s chief White House photographer. American Photo Magazine named him one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography.” He has been a contributing photographer to Newsweek, and TIME & LIFE magazines.  His books include Shooter, Photo Op, Seinoff: The Final Days of Seinfeld, Photo du Jour: A Picture-A-Day Journey through the First Year of the New Millennium, and Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. 

He was executive producer of Barack Obama: The Official Inaugural Book. He received an Emmy nomination for the NBC movie, “The Taking of Flight 847.  Mr. Kennerly is on the Board of Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and the Atlanta Board of Visitors of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).  His archive is housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas, Austin.

Alan Lowe
Alan Lowe is the director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history at the University of Kentucky.  In 1989, Lowe joined the staff of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, as an archivist. In 1992, he moved to the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where he helped to oversee the Presidential Libraries located throughout the nation.  During part of that time, he served as interim director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.  From 2003 to 2009, Lowe served as the founding Executive Director of the Howard Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee.  In April 2009, Mr. Lowe began serving as director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

anita mcbrideAnita McBride
Anita McBride, Conference Chair of the Legacies of America’s First Ladies series, is an Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, School of Public Affairs, at American University in Washington, D.C.  Prior to this appointment, Mrs. McBride served as Assistant to George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush. In this role she advised Mrs. Bush on her platform of domestic and international initiatives and directed the First Lady’s foreign travel to 67 countries in four years including Mrs. Bush’s historic trips to Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Thai-Burma border.

Mrs. McBride’s public service spans two decades and three U.S. presidential administrations including presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush where she served in several capacities in the White House, United States Information Agency, and the Department of State.  She is currently a senior advisor to the George W. Bush Institute as well as several global nonprofit organizations.  She is also the Co-Founder of the RAND African First Ladies Initiative, a program that seeks to strengthen the offices of first ladies across the African continent.  Mrs. McBride is a member of several boards and institutions including the Presidential Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS, the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and the White House Historical Association.

Dee Dee Myers
Dee Dee Myers is a Managing Director of the Glover Park Group, a Washington-based public relations firm.  She is also a political analyst and commentator, Contributing Editor to Vanity Fair and author of the New York Times' best-selling book, Why Women Should Rule the World. Myers served as White House Press Secretary during President Clinton’s first term. She was the first woman to hold that job. Myers co-hosted the CNBC program “Equal Time” and worked as a consultant on the Emmy-award winning television series, "The West Wing." She appears frequently on broadcast and cable television, and her work has appeared in numerous publications including Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Time, O, the Washington Post, Politico and the Los Angeles Times. A graduate of the Santa Clara University, she currently lives in Washington with her husband, Todd Purdum, National Editor for Vanity Fair, and their children.

Lynda Johnson Robb
Robb’s passionate interest in children’s literature led her more than 40 years ago to volunteer to read to children in hospitals, where she discovered that many children wanted and needed books so badly that hospital staff let them take home the books she brought to read. This experience prompted her involvement in being a founding member of the Board Reading is Fundamental  Washington, D.C., in 1968 and has been on the board ever since. From 1996 until 2001, she served as the Chairman of the RIF Board of Directors.  She has traveled nationwide to rally community and business support for RIF programs and to meet with the local volunteers who operate RIF programs. “My fellow RIF volunteers tell me that they are motivated today by the same reward I’ve been fortunate enough to experience since RIF’s early days—the look on children’s faces when they’re selecting RIF books or when someone is reading to them and the deep satisfaction of helping children develop a love for reading that will serve them throughout their lives,” she said. Robb fondly lists her current profession as “professional volunteer.”  She has served many organizations, always focusing on the condition of children and women.

In addition to her work on behalf of RIF, she is president of the National Home Library Foundation. She also is a member of the board of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library Foundation. She has served as a member of the Selection Board of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Some of her past affiliations include a presidential appointment by Jimmy Carter to serve as chair of the President’s Advisory Committee for Women (1979-1981), chair of the Virginia’s Women Cultural History Project (1982-1985), and chair of the Virginia Task Force on Infant Mortality. She also received a congressional appointment to serve as commissioner of the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality (1989-1996). She attended George Washington University and is an honors graduate of the University of Texas, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. In 1992, she was inducted in the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Alpha Chapter of the District of Columbia. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Washington and Lee University and an honorary Doctor of Public Service from Norwich University. She is the recipient of numerous civic awards and honors. Robb is the daughter of President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Claudia Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson. She is married to former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Charles S. Robb, is the mother of three daughters, and has three grandchildren. 

richard norton smithRichard Norton Smith
Richard Norton Smith is a nationally recognized biographer and presidential historian. Between 1987 and 2001, he served as director of the Hoover, Eisenhower, Reagan and Ford presidential libraries. He spent the next five years as Founding Director of both the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in Springfield, Illinois. Currently a Scholar in Residence at George Mason University, Mr. Smith is also C-SPAN’s in-house historian, and a frequent guest on The PBS News Hour and other programs. He was largely responsible for the design of the new museum and education center at Ford’s Theater in downtown Washington. The author of nine books, he is at present completing a biography of Nelson Rockefeller to be published in 2014.

Mark K. Updegrove
Mark K. Updegrove became Director of the LBJ Library in October 2009. He is an author, publisher, lecturer and journalist who has served as U.S. publisher of Newsweek, president of Time Canada, and manager of Time Los Angeles. Currently, Updegrove is overseeing a multi-million dollar redesign of the library's core exhibits on Lyndon Johnson and his times. Updegrove has authored three books relating to the American Presidency: Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency, (2012), Baptism By Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office in Times of Crisis (2009), and Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House (2006). He has written for American Heritage, The Nation, National Geographic, Parade, Texas Monthly, and TIME. Mark and his wife Evelyn have two children, Charlie and Tallie.