In this episode of The Italian American Podcast, we speak with Anita Bevacqua McBride. McBride served as assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005 to 2009, directing the staff’s work on the wide variety of domestic and global initiatives in which Mrs. Bush was involved. She had primary responsibility for the First Lady’s efforts to support U.S. foreign policy objectives in human rights, women’s empowerment, global health and human freedom. She directed Mrs. Bush’s travel to 67 countries in 4 years, including historic visits to Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Thai-Burma border.
McBride’s White House service spans two decades and three presidential administrations, including as Director of White House Personnel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush; and as Director of the U.S. Speaker’s Bureau at the United States Information Agency.
Also under President George W. Bush, McBride served as a special assistant for White House Management; as senior advisor in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Organizations and as the State Department’s White House liaison.
Currently, McBride is Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. She directs programming and national conferences on the legacies of America’s first ladies and their historical influence on politics, policy and global diplomacy.
McBride co-founded the RAND African First Ladies Initiative and Fellowship program to partner with Africa’s first ladies and support their efforts to become champions of change for health and education in their countries, as well as train their staff and advisors in strategies for establishing and managing an effective First Lady’s office.
McBride is an advisor to the George W. Bush Institute as well as a strategic consultant to global non-profit organizations. She is a member of several organizations, including the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the White House Historical Association.
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hardy ‘yes’ to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell
Tweetables from the interview with Anita Bevacqua McBride
- “It was a foundation and a structure.” – Anita Bevacqua McBride on growing up in an Italian Immigrant Neighborhood
- “We all have a story to tell that defines how we view the world.” – Anita Bevacqua McBride
- “I learned how important it was for people to stay connected with their leaders.” – McBride on writing to your President
- “This country gives you every possible opportunity.” – Anita Bevacqua McBride on the United States of America
- “I learned as I’ve gotten older to say ‘yes’ to life.” – Dolores Alfieri on deciding to host The Italian American Podcast
- “We’ve learned a lot about Italian American history.” – Anthony Fasano on hosting The Italian American Podcast
- “You get the sense that everyone has been rooting for us along the way.” – – Dolores Alfieri on hosting The Italian American Podcast
- “Italian food is good food, because it has a purpose of bringing people together.” – Anthony Fasano, host of The Italian American Podcast
Here are some key points from the episode:
- McBride discussed how her mother passed away when she was young, and her father took an old school approach and did not re-marry.
- McBride talked about how her neighborhood of close-knit Italian immigrants has always been there for her throughout her life.
- When younger, McBride had an experience in college that made her feel passionate about supporting and getting active in politics to drive the future of our country.
- McBride started in the Reagan administration with the position of reading President Reagan’s mail, and she worked her way up to Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005 to 2009.
- McBride vividly remembers her father, an Italian immigrant, visiting the White House in 1987; seeing her name on her office door in the White House, he began to weep.
- Dolores Alfieri reiterated quotes by Lidia Bastianich from Episode 12 on how keeping an Italian family together is work, and every family needs someone willing to do the work.
Episode 17 of The Italian American Podcast with Tony Reali
Episode 12 of The Italian American Podcast with Lidia Bastianich
Anthony Fasano and Dolores Alfieri
Co-Hosts, The Italian American Podcast