Presidential Spouses and Partners Program Concurrent Sessions

January 5, 2023

(Sponsored by Rankin Climate)

Agents of Change: Toward Discourse

The partisan divide in the United States threatens to tear apart communities, organizations, friendships, and even families. The presenter is an experienced volunteer with Braver Angels, an initiative dedicated to political depolarization. The session will include a discussion of the Braver Angels program and how it brings together conservatives and liberals on equal terms to understand their differences and find common ground. The presenter will offer examples of how the program has been used effectively on college campuses and will include a demonstration of the Braver Angels model for productive conversations across the political divide.

Note: For those who are interested in exploring this topic in advance, please consider reading I Never Thought of It That Way, by Mónica Guzmán (available at many public libraries), or viewing a one-hour video discussion of the book on YouTube.

Cameron Swallow, Presidential Spouse, Carthage College

Moderator: Paula Corey, Presidential Spouse, Biola University

Navigating the Download: Communicating as a Presidential Couple

Joint Session with Presidents
Communication is the best predictor of marriage happiness and relationship longevity for couples. Communication is even more crucial for the presidential couple given the nature of the role: public-facing, high-stakes, very complex, and 24/7/365. This session will offer a unique look at how experienced and creative presidential couples manage the volume of information they must regularly share with each other. Panelists will not only reveal their own approaches and experiences, but also invite dynamic sharing among session attendees. Couples will leave with concrete ideas for developing proactive strategies and rituals toward optimizing information-sharing, increasing joy, and navigating the communication complexity of being a presidential couple.

Brian J. Bruess, President, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
Carol Bruess, Presidential Spouse, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
Glenn McGee, Presidential Spouse, Salem College
Summer Johnson McGee, President, Salem College

Chair: Chris E. Domes, President, Neumann University

Winning the Moment

Presidential spouses and partners are called upon to interact with a wide variety of constituents with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and opinions. This session will explore strategies for cultivating positive relationships with all institutional stakeholders. Particular attention will be given to reacting effectively and appropriately in difficult situations, especially involving individuals whose roles are significant to the institution, e.g., board members, donors, and others.

Lisa Baldwin, Presidential Spouse, Hiram College
Joseph Franks, Presidential Spouse, Averett University
Chair: Beth Searcy, Presidential Spouse, Barton College