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Laura Bush Named AU’s Wonk of the Year

American University has named former First Lady Laura Bush as the recipient of the 2015 Wonk of the Year Award. She becomes the first woman to receive this honor. She's the third AU Wonk of the Year, joining former President Bill Clinton and CNN journalist Anderson Cooper.

The award will be presented on Wednesday, April 8 at 8:15 p.m. in Bender Arena followed by her acceptance speech. The event is hosted by Kennedy Political Union (KPU), the student-run lecture series on campus.

Media must RSVP for this event with Kelly L. Alexander at 202-885-5952 or via email at, by April 6 at 3 p.m. General ticket information will be made available online at closer to the event date.

This is the first time that KPU, which since its founding in 1968 has brought a number of leaders and dignitaries to AU, has hosted a current or former first lady. KPU Director Tyler Bowders says Mrs. Bush was selected as Wonk of the Year because of her work to create meaningful change in the world. She's smart, passionate, focused, and engaged, and her record should resonate with the AU community.

"Mrs. Bush's global outreach in addressing issues such as literacy, women's education, and combating HIV/AIDS in Africa. And her domestic commitments to women's health and Head programs, span before, during, and after her role as first lady of the United States," Bowders says.

Bush has championed education and literacy, co-founding the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. She has a passion for international human rights issues, a mission she's continued to champion through the work of the George W. Bush Institute.Bush is currently Chair of the Women's Initiative at the Bush Institute in Dallas. As Chair, Mrs. Bush oversees three signature programs: the Afghan Women's Project, which spotlights the struggles and successes of Afghan women;the First Ladies Initiative, which supports First Ladies in Africa—and beyond—in their efforts to foster change;and the Women's Initiative Fellowship Program which is designed to enhance the leadership skills of rising female leaders in the Middle East and North Africa.

Just recently, Rula Ghani, the First Lady of Afghanistan, visited Dallas and praised Mrs. Bush. "Once committed to a cause, she's relentless, she's resourceful, and she does it so gracefully, and so unobtrusively, that you don't realize her power until faced with her achievements," said Ghani, according to press reports.

American University has celebrated AU Wonks since 2010. When you know something backward and forward, you're a wonk (a Washington insider's term to describe the best and the brightest). Wonks are people focused on creating change, people like AU's students, faculty and staff –people like former First Lady Laura Bush.

 The Wonk of the Year celebration begins at 8:15 p.m. on April 8 and will include a discussion with Mrs. Bush, moderated by Anita McBride, an executive-in-residence at American University's School of Public Affairs. McBride was Mrs. Bush's chief of staff in the White House from 2005-2009.

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.