Barbara Bush is the daughter of former U.S. President George W. Bush and the twin sister of author and media personality Jenna Bush Hager.
Who Is Barbara Bush?
One of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara Bush grew up in Texas before attending Yale University. Influenced by a visit to Africa, she spurred the 2008 launch of Global Health Corps, a nonprofit devoted to improving health care in poorer communities. Bush has also served on the boards of other prominent organizations and has authored books with her sister, Jenna Bush Hager.
Barbara Pierce Bush was born on November 25, 1981, in Dallas, Texas, just ahead of her twin sister, Jenna. Named after her paternal grandmother, the wife of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, she is the daughter of Laura Bush and Texas Governor turned U.S. President George W. Bush.
Appearing in public together since toddlerhood, the Bush girls formed an inseparable bond even as each forged her individual identity. Barbara, who resembled her reserved mother in looks and temperament, showed more of an interest in art and design by picking up needlepoint and learning to paint portraits.
After attending elementary schools in Texas and Washington, D.C., the twins enrolled at Stephen F. Austin High School. Bush competed for the cross-country team, earned acceptance to the National Honor Society and was named homecoming queen and “Most Likely to Appear in Vogue” by her classmates (Jenna was voted “Most Likely to Trip on Prom Night”).
Although they went their separate ways for college – Bush was accepted to Yale University in Connecticut and Jenna attended UT-Austin – the twins made headlines in May 2001, early in their father’s presidency, for an underage drinking incident at a popular Austin bar.
Bush otherwise kept out of the spotlight and mostly steered clear of official White House activity, save for accompanying her parents on international expeditions, as she sought to live something of a normal college life. Along with joining the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, she pursued her design interests by studying architecture and scoring internships with Lela Rose and the creators of the Proenza Schouler brand, before graduating with a B.A. in Humanities in 2004.
Bush later earned her master’s in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School in 2020.
Profoundly influenced by a trip to Africa to help launch the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, Bush spent nine months volunteering at South Africa’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital after college, and remained in Africa to work on behalf of UNICEF and the UN World Food Programme.
Back in the States, Bush landed an educational programming position with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, but her thoughts remained with the less fortunate children of poorer communities.
Global Health Corps
In 2008 Bush teamed up with her sister and four others to found Global Health Corps (GHC), a nonprofit focused on funneling the talents of young professionals across a range of industries toward improving health-care organizations in select U.S. cities and abroad. As CEO, Bush mentored the annual GHC fellowship classes, reeled in the financial backing of corporate behemoths like ExxonMobil and Bank of America and personally spent countless hours visiting workers and facilities overseas.
Having overseen the deployment of more than 1,000 fellows after nearly a decade in charge of the nonprofit, Bush announced in January 2018 that she was transitioning to the role of board chair.
Board Memberships and Foundation Work
Beyond her work for GHC, Bush has served on the board of directors for organizations such as Partners in Health and Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. She has also been named a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneur, a World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper and a fellow of the Echoing Green foundation.
In recognition of her accomplishments, Bush was included among Glamour‘s Women of the Year in 2011, Newsweek‘s Women of Impact in 2013 and Fast Company‘s Most Creative People in Business in 2015.
Along with largely dismissing the idea of running for office, Bush has established a political viewpoint separate from the traditional Republican values that shaped her upbringing. She drew attention by filming a PSA in support of gay marriage in 2011, and admitted to having cast her 2016 presidential vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton in a 2017 New York Times interview.
Set up on a blind date by friends in late 2017, Bush and actor/screenwriter Craig Coyne quickly became an item despite living on opposite American coasts. They were engaged by summer 2018, and married that October at the Bush compound Kennebunkport, Maine so an ailing 94-year-old George H.W. Bush could attend (he passed away less than two months later). Bush and Coyne followed with a second, larger wedding ceremony at her father’s Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2019.
‘Sisters First’ Books
In 2017 the Bush sisters teamed up to publish Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life. After the joint memoir shot to the top of The New York Times best-seller list, they followed with a children’s book, also titled Sisters First, in 2019.
Additionally, the twins garnered praise for their January 2017 open letter to Malia and Sasha Obama, daughters of outgoing President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama, on what to expect after leaving the White House.