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Former Gov. Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush was elected the 43rd governor of the state of Florida on November 3, 1998, and was re-elected by a wide margin in 2002. His second term as governor ended in January 2007.
Bush put Florida on the forefront of consumer health care advances by signing Medicaid reform legislation, “Empowered Care,” in June 2006. His focus on reforming education brought about significant change: Florida students have made the greatest gains in achievement and Florida is one of a handful of states that have closed the achievement gap. In addition, Bush cut taxes every year during his tenure as governor and Florida led the nation in job growth.
Bush served as Florida's secretary of commerce under Bob Martinez, Florida's 40th governor. As secretary of commerce, he promoted Florida's business climate worldwide. Following an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1994, Bush founded the non-profit Foundation for Florida's Future, which joined forces with the Greater Miami Urban League to establish one of the state's first charter schools. He also co-authored Profiles in Character, a book profiling 14 of Florida's civic heroes – regular people making a remarkable difference without claiming a single news headline.
Bush is currently the head of Jeb Bush and Associates, the successful consulting business he founded, where his clients range from small technology start-ups to well-known Fortune 500 companies. He is also the chairman of Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national foundation focused on education reform.
Bush is the son of former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. He lives in Miami with his wife Columba, and they have three children.
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Captain Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly is an American astronaut, retired U.S. Navy captain, best- selling author, prostate cancer survivor and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War. The winner of many awards, including the Legion of Merit, two Defense Superior Service Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Kelly was selected as an astronaut in 1996. He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard space shuttle Endeavour, the same space shuttle he commanded on its final flight in May 2011. He has also commanded space shuttle Discovery and is one of only two individuals to have visited the international space station on four different occasions.
Already a celebrated American, Kelly entered the public spotlight after the January 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In their best-selling memoir, Gabby, the couple shares their story of hope and resilience. The inspirational memoir has topped multiple best-seller lists, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon. Kelly is currently working on a children’s book titled Mousetronaut: A Partially True Story, with a release date of October 2012.
Kelly’s identical twin brother, Scott, is also an astronaut who served as commander of both the space shuttle and the international space station. They share the distinction of being the only siblings who have traveled in space.
With 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft, 375 aircraft carrier landings, 39 combat missions and more than 50 days in space, astronaut Mark Kelly is one of our country’s most experienced pilots.
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U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was first elected to Arizona's 8th Congressional District seat in 2006 and won re-elections in 2008 and 2010. On January 8, 2011, a would-be assassin opened fire at a local event in Tucson where Giffords was meeting with constituents. Giffords sustained a life-threatening gunshot wound to the head.
That Gabby Giffords survived the attack is remarkable. Her return to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives less than seven months after her injury to vote on the controversial debt ceiling legislation has been described as miraculous. Her road to this unprecedented recovery speaks volumes to her strength, temerity and indomitable will to survive.
Giffords was a Fulbright Scholar and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Scripps College and a master’s from Cornell University. Before heading to Washington, D.C., she served in the Arizona state House of Representatives from 2001 until 2003 and in the Arizona state Senate from 2003 until 2005, where she was the youngest woman ever elected to that body.
Upon entering Congress in 2007, Giffords quickly became a leading champion of border security, energy independence and the needs of military families and veterans. Consistently ranked as one of the most centrist legislators in Congress, she has been a strong supporter of fiscal responsibility, bipartisanship and government accountability.
Before entering public office, Giffords took over her family's tire and automotive business while in her 20s. As the president and chief executive officer of El Campo Tire, Inc., she developed a keen understanding of the challenges faced by small businesses. In Washington, Giffords was a voice for those small businesses and an advocate of honest budgeting.