A few months ago I was surprised and thrilled to learn I had been selected to participate in The Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a leadership development program that draws upon the resources of the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson. I am so deeply honored and fortunate to join 59 other Scholars chosen for the program’s third annual class.
For me, the best part of this opportunity is joining these amazing and exceptional people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets and together experiencing presidential leadership lessons – that, incredibly, includes presidential staff and our living presidents themselves. As part of the project, each Scholar is developing a social-good project – I am focusing on Data4Good, a project to help social-good programs improve their outcomes by becoming data-driven. The PLS program has also enabled me to apply my leadership skills and lessons to promote a subject of critical importance today – ethical data use.
In policy and technology circles along with almost every industry sector “data is the new black.” All devices, fields, industries, and functions are becoming data-enabled, and ultimately data-driven. The big question is then how do include our human values, our “data ethics” in this evolution. The diverse realms represented by the 2017 Scholars, who include corporate executives from Google and Coca-Cola, an assistant New York City district attorney and a circuit court judge from Louisiana, along with senior U.S. military officers, non-profit leaders, medical professionals, artists – you name it – are to some degree using, or need to use data to be competitive and successful.
In other words, I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work in the company of such brilliant and accomplished thinkers. As we travel to each participating presidential center to learn from former presidents, top administration officials, and eminent academics, each Scholar will have the chance to see his or her passion in new lights.
We will study and act upon innovative approaches to leadership. When we conclude the program, we will all be better equipped to make an impact on our communities and the world at large. Besides visiting presidential centers, Scholars spend time at the National Archives and Records Administration, Mount Vernon, and the White House Historical Association. Among the areas of personal and professional development we will explore are core values and civility.
It’s not hard to see the connection between these topics and data ethics. Any organization collecting and using consumer data would be wise to anchor its efforts in civility, ethics, and common sense, especially as society is rapidly being remade by artificial intelligence and smart devices of every kind.
What will I learn from a non-profit activist, a pediatrician, or a Marine about protecting consumer privacy and corporate reputation? What can I teach them in return? Stay tuned. I’m eager to find out myself – and put my knowledge to good use.