Washington, D.C. 2008 Conclusion

The Capital Building
The Capital Building

The Values interview trip to Washington DC in May of 2008 was one of the most exciting in the history of our program which goes back to 1989.

Here the students told the story as it unfolded and it give some idea of the excitement and discovery that were a daily part of the experience.

We take this unusual journey to the nations capital every other year. By good fortune, hard work and many friends we have been granted unusual access to the halls of government. Over the past almost 20 years we have be developing our program that allows our students to engage with a diverse group of thoughtful and dedicated people, both inside and outside of government. We have been able to sit and speak with such iconic leaders as Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, presidential candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. former House Speaker John Foley, and former Secretary of State, George Shultz. We have also interviewed dynamic young leaders such as Alyse Nelson, President of Vital Voices, an nongovernment organization empowering women around the world. Layli Miller Muro of the Tahiri Justice Center who is working to combat gender crimes around the world, Maria Pacheco, a social business entrepreneur, who is inspiring womens’ business collectives in Guatemala These extraordinary people who operate outside government are making enormous contributions to the betterment of our world.

We learn from this diverse group about vision, courage, perseverance, hope, and most importantly about ourselves and our own quest for meaning. We hope you will take time to look at the blogs and read some of the interviews with this very dynamic group of leaders from a wide variety of jobs and points of view. Our next trip will be in 2010 to see how things have change in Washington DC as a result of our recent shift in leadership.

About the Program

Values In World Thought Tour

We began the Mount Madonna School Government in Action program in 1989 to provide our students with a personal understanding of government and a more accurate picture of those who devote their lives to a broad range of public service activities. Over the years this program has produced remarkable results far beyond anything we initially envisioned. To quote one student,

Layli Miller-Muro
Layli Miller-Muro

“I feel I have just fallen in love with the possibilities of my future and my newly discovered faith in myself.” Belle Potter – Junior

Today our program has evolved into an even deeper inquiry into the values that inspire a life of service. We have retitled the program, The Values in World Thought Tour to connect it more closely with our unique twoyear “values” dialogue for juniors and seniors at Mount Madonna School. More recently our students have traveled internationally to interview leaders in other parts of the world. Last year as part of a joint project with the Dalai Lama Foundation, we traveled to India to interview the Dalai Lama, the President of India and American Ambassador David Mulford. This journey will be the subject of a documentary to be released this summer. Even more recently a group traveled to Ecuador to spend time in the Amazon Rainforest to learn first hand about the issues facing that region.

On alternate years we come to Washington, D.C. where we have been fortunate enough to attract some of our nation’s finest public servants. We look for those who are vitally involved in trying to improve the quality of life in our nation and around the world. Interviews usually last 45 minutes to an hour. The students come prepared to ask thoughtful and stimulating questions. We are most interested in understanding why people have chosen a life of public service and to discover what they have learned along the way that might be helpful to those just setting out on their journey. Whenever possible, we videotape our conversations so they can be shared with other students through DVD’s and our student generated web site. Currently we are working on a new curriculum titled, Exploring a Life of Meaning that will include many of our interviews.

This experience has become an important a rite of passage for our students; something they eagerly look forward to as a part of becoming responsible adults in their community. Most importantly it changes forever the way they look at public service. As each year unfolds we are discovering new opportunities to broaden the scope and impact of this program. This year, we have a wonderful group of 21 juniors and seniors who will participate. We will be uploading stories every day to a student run blog, and to a web site sponsored by our local newspaper. In 2006 to everyone’s surprise we had more than 5000 visitors to the website during our journey. Please visit http://www.mountmadonnaschool.org/gov06 to see what the students have accomplished on earlier journeys. If you are interested in seeing the Dalai Lama project you can go t ohttp://www.projecthappiness.com and click on “Watch the Trailer”.



Past Participants

Federal Government

  • Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
  • White House Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta
  • National Security Advisor, Steven Hadley
  • White House Chief Exec. Usher, Gary Walters
  • White House, Director of the Executive Residence, Admiral Stephen Rochon
  • White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry
  • First Lady’s Chief of Staff, Melanne Verveer
  • Director White House Visitors Office Melinda Bates
  • Deputy Chief of Staff to VP Dick Cheney Dean McGrath
  • Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbit
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala
  • Deputy Secretary of Education, Marshal Smith
  • Under Secretary of the Navy, Carolyn Becraft
  • Former Secretary of State George Shultz
  • Deputy Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick
  • Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte
  • Under Secretary of State, Thomas Pickering
  • Under Secretary of State, Marc Grossman
  • Under Secretary of State, Paula Dobriansky
  • Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Powell, Craig Kelley
  • Ambassador Pifer
  • Ambassador Barbara Bodine
  • US Ambassador to India, David C. Mulford
  • Senator Alan Simpson
  • Senator Diane Feinstein
  • Senator Craig Thomas
  • Senator Barbara Boxer
  • Former Senator William Fulbright
  • Senator and Governor Pete Wilson
  • Former Speaker of the House, Congressman Tom Foley
  • House Speaker, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
  • Former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt
  • Congressman John Dingel
  • Congressman Adam Putnam
  • Congresswoman Ann Eshoo
  • Congressman Sam Farr
  • Congressman Dennis Kucinich
  • Congressman John Lewis
  • Congressman Norman Minetta
  • Congresswoman Connie Morella
  • Congressman Barney Frank
  • Congressman Sensenbrenner
  • Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
  • Congressman William S. Mailliard
  • Congressman Anthony Weiner
  • Congresswoman Barbara Lee
  • Congressman Ron Paul
  • Congresswoman Debbie WassermanShultz
  • Congresswoman Jackie Speier
  • Congressman Jim McDermott

Non-Government Leaders

  • President of Vital Voices Alyse Nelson Bloom
  • Founder Justice Department’s Violence Against Women’s Office, Bonnie Campbell
  • U.S. Representative to the World Bank, Jan Piercy
  • General Council to the Peace Corps, Nancy Hendry
  • Layli Miller Muro – Founder of the Tahiri Justice Center


  • Wall Street Journal, Al Hunt
  • Crossfire, Bill Press
  • Leher News Hour Correspondent Ray Suarez
  • Washington Post columnist David Ignatius
  • Eilene O’Conor, President of International Center for Journalist
  • Joe Seigle, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Tom Honig, Editor Santa Cruz Sentinel

Leaders of Other Fields

  • His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama
  • Abdul Kalam – President of India
  • Bill Moyers – Journalist
  • George Lucas – Film Maker
  • Richard Gere Actor
  • Fritjof Capra Scientist, Author
  • Ernesto Cortes – Community Organizer
  • Angeles Arrien Anthropologist, Author
  • Margaret Wheatley, Organizational Development, Author
  • Peter Block, Organizational Development, Author
  • Sobonfu Some, Indigenous Wisdom, Author
  • Jim Whittaker, 1st American on Mt. Everest
  • Nirmala Deshpande, Gandhian Member of Raja Sabha (Uppoer House of Indian Parliament)
  • Vivian Wright, Strategic Planner Heweltt Packard
  • Ed Koch Fmr. Mayor of New York
  • Prof. Michale Sandel – Political Philosopher, Harvard
  • Sara Lawrence Lightfoot – Educator, Harvard
  • Professor Tu Weiming – Confucian Scholar, Harvard
  • Jacob Needleman – Philosopher
  • Farida Azizi – Human Rights Activist, Afganishtan

For information please contact:
Ward Mailliard
Phone: 4088478832
Project Leader Email: [email protected]