Dr. Robert M. Gates – former U.S. secretary of defense, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and president of Texas A&M University – has been named chair of The Holdsworth Center’s board.
As a founding member of the board, Gates has helped guide Holdsworth through six years of growth and program expansion.
“This entire endeavor is a vote of confidence in our public education system,” Gates said when the Center opened in 2017. “We have great admiration for the work of superintendents and principals and owe them a debt of gratitude for dedicating their lives to educating, inspiring and mentoring our children. There is no more important job. The Holdsworth Center’s mission is to provide them with the tools and resources to be able to serve our students even more powerfully.”
Gates is the author of four books and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. He is the only secretary of defense in U.S. history to serve under two presidents – George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Gates is now a partner in the consulting firm Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and Aspen Strategy Group Director Anja Manuel.
No matter what organization he’s leading, Gates embodies the qualities of an outstanding leader, said Dr. Lindsay Whorton, Holdsworth’s president.
“Dr. Gates leads with humility, integrity and vision,” Whorton said. “The same concepts we promote to leaders in our programs, he models in everyday life. We are immensely grateful for his example and his heart for service. Texas public school educators and their students will benefit from his leadership at the helm of our board.”
Gates, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, didn’t know Holdsworth founder Charles Butt when he called in 2016 to ask if Gates would serve on the board.
“From the second minute on, there was no doubt in my mind what I was going to say because of the vision involved and the commitment to kids,” Gates said. “How do you help a superintendent or a principal cope with new demands and less resources? Holdsworth not only gives them practical, down-to-earth tools for leading in their schools and districts, the whole experience rekindles their passion and reminds them why they got into education in the first place.”
To read more about Gates’ background and diverse board service, visit our board page.
Gates replaces Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, who will remain on the board.
Simmons has been an integral part of The Holdsworth Center’s inception, supporting the organization’s formation and its first programs, and leading efforts to scale the work and serve more educational leaders across the state.
“Having Dr. Simmons guide the organization and serve as a mentor to me in these formative years has been an incredible gift,” Whorton said. “Her wise words and her push to always be getting better and looking beyond the horizon has been invaluable to me personally and to the entire organization. We are thankful for her continued service.”