The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Former Bush staffers share insight into working in White House

Photo by Vanessa Pena

At the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center Tuesday evening, Kathleen Shanahan discusses her first job how she got where she is today

The George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs stepped back in time as three former Bush staffers reflected on their White House experiences and how they influenced their careers today.


The panelists included Judy Smith, inspiration for and co-executive producer of the TV show “Scandal”; Kathleen Shanahan, former deputy press secretary, chairman and CEO of URETEK Holdings, Inc. and former White House special assistant; and Ivan Allen, former deputy assistant secretary for legislation and acting assistant secretary of housing.
Working the White House was fast paced, Smith said. She said her time working for Bush taught her valuable techniques she applied in her later career.
“When you are working at the White House, you have to make decisions very quickly because you know that the media is going to report it,” Smith said. “So, all of those skill sets that I learned at the White House have been really useful in the work I do now, which is crisis management.”

Shanahan said she enjoyed working in the U.S. government, as well as in the private sector because she was given the chance to work with many incredible people.


“I’ve worked for some tremendous Americans, who’ve served and those are probably the most influential experiences I have had,” Shanahan said. “From President Reagan to President Bush, Vice President Chaney to Governor Jeb Bush, I’ve really had this path from both inside and outside of government.”


Working in government is fulfilling, Shanahan said, and has granted her the opportunity to make a visible difference.


“You sort of get hooked by it,” Shanahan said. “It’s a very stimulating place, both in Washington and the state capitols I’ve worked in. You really are making a difference, and you can see and feel that much faster than in the private sector.”
Allen said the forum and other forums like it is an opportunity for students to gain valuable exposure to both public policy and politics.

“This is wonderful for everybody to be exposed to,” Allen said. “The world comes to you. I was speaking with students earlier as saying how fortunate they are, because you are exposed to people and hearing ideas in person you may not have the chance to hear otherwise.”


Freshman history major Clayey Epperson attended the forum and said the speakers provided students with valuable advice regarding future careers.


“They spoke a lot about not only what they did, but how to be confident in yourself and chase after your dreams,” Epperson said. “I know that those are things that we as students hear a lot but, when it comes from people who have had such broad experiences, it makes a larger impact.”


Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Former First Lady Barbara Bush also attended the forum, quietly slipping in the side door at the start of the forum and out at the conclusion of it.

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  • Judy Smith shares what her typical work day is like at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center Tuesday evening


    Photo by Vanessa Pena
  • Ivan Allen discusses his career and what it has been like to work with many actors

    Photo by Vanessa Pena
  • Former White House staff members talk about their experiences at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center Tuesday evening


    Photo by Vanessa Pena
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