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Program Opportunities

Besides providing a significant amount of financial support, the Sumners Foundation offers its scholars access to numerous special programs and events.

Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series

Dr Ben Carson speakingIn conjunction with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the Sumners Foundation regularly ‌sponsors the Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series luncheons featuring nationally and internationally renowned speakers.

Luncheons are held in Dallas and all Sumners Scholars are invited to attend alongside many elite Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex business owners and leaders. Dr. Ben Carson, who served on former President George W. Bush's President's Council on Bioethics, General Tommy Franks, U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow have addressed the NCPA's prestigious assembly.

Following the luncheons, Sumners Scholars are escorted to a room for private briefings with the speaker. Former President Gerald Ford, then-Governor George W. Bush, former Governor Jeb Bush, Queen Noor of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among the other prominent public figures with whom the Sumners Scholars have held private meetings.

Public Policy

The Sumners Student Leadership Conference is hosted annually by the Center for Ethical Leadership at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin to inspire, train and further develop student leadership skills.

The four-day program involves large sessions with acclaimed speakers, interactive small group sessions led by UT graduate students, a free leadership assessment with a workshop on how to interpret the results, and an opportunity to network with students hailing from universities and colleges all over the U.S. and Mexico as well as representatives from each U.S. military academy.

Key speakers from the recent 2014 conference include: ‌

  • Dr. Ben Carson, noted pediatric neurosurgeon appointed to the 2004 President's Council on Bioethics and named one of the nation's top 20 foremost physicians by CNN and TIME magazine.
  • Louis Freeh, former FBI Director and authorGroup pic scholars and Louis Freeh
  • Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush
  • Steve Landsburg, author of the best-selling The Armchair Economist and The Big Questions 
  • Steve Kroft, "60 Minutes" correspondent and recipient of three Peabody Awards
  • David Stockman, former Director of the Office Management and Budget under former President Ronald Reagan

 Conferences have featured guest speakers such as:

  • Dave Levin, co-founded the Knowledge is Power Program (KIIP)
  • Jack Beach, Ph.D., Former Executive Leadership Development Consultant for IBM and former Professor and Director of the Psychology Programs in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
  • Dr. Howard Prince, director of the Center for Ethical Leadership in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Michael Powell, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Ginger Kerrick, one of NASA’s lead flight directors and the first non-astronaut spacecraft communicator. ‌Natalie Kopp in discussion
  • Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Winston Churchill and renowned author.
  • Dominque Dawes, 1996 Olympic gymnast and gold medalist who served as national spokesperson for the Girl Power campaign.
  • Buzz Aldrin, who made the historic first walk on the moon with Neil Armstrong and, at President George W. Bush's appointment, served on the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry.  

Networking and Sumners Alumni

Professional and post-graduate networking continues after graduation and is extended to each Scholar commensurate with their interests and career goals. Sumner Scholars Alumni events and activities are coordinated through the Foundation office.