Mark Updegrove Profile Photo

Mark Updegrove

Keynote Speaker

Historian and author; ABC News' Presidential Historian; Host of PBS' "Live from the LBJ Library;" President and CEO of the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation

Having closely examined the modern American presidency and American history overall, Mark Updegrove delivers unique insight on leadership and how those lessons can apply to all of us, while also offering perspective on the state of our nation—and our democracy—today. Additionally, as one who has personally interviewed icons who have shaped the course of history, including seven U.S. Presidents, Updegrove can serve as an accomplished moderator, facilitating conversations with those at highest levels.

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Mark Updegrove Profile Photo

Mark K. Updegrove is a presidential historian and the award-winning author of four books on the presidency. His last book, The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, drew on exclusive access and interviews with both Bush presidents. His next book, Incomparable Grace: JFK in the Presidency, will be published in April 2022.

As the presidential historian for ABC News, Updegrove is a regular contributor to Good Morning America and ABC News. He also appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC, and has written for The New York Times, Time, Politico, Parade, National Geographic, Texas Monthly, USA Today, and The Daily Beast.

Updegrove currently serves as the President and CEO of the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation. From 2009 to 2017, he was the director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, where, in 2014, he hosted the Civil Rights Summit, which included Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, and prompted a The New York Times profile of Updegrove titled, “Chronicler of Presidents is Bringing Four Together.” Earlier in his career, he served as U.S. publisher of Newsweek and President of Time magazine’s Canadian edition.

In addition to speaking, Updegrove is well-known for moderating public events, having conducted interviews with seven U.S. presidents and first ladies as well as a wide range of luminaries including Mikhail Gorbachev, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O’Connor, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, James Baker, Hank Aaron, John Lewis, Bryan Cranston, and Hank Aaron.

Featured Videos

Mark Updegrove Profile Photo
Mark Updegrove

Mark Updegrove on Gerald Ford

Mark Updegrove Profile Photo
Mark Updegrove

What Will Your Sentence Be?

Mark Updegrove’s Speech Topics

  • State of the Nation: America’s Eroding Democracy and What We Can Do About It

    Historian Mark Updegrove looks at the root causes of the declining state of American democracy today, and viable solutions toward greater unity and the strengthening of our nation. 

  • Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency

    Based on his book of the same name, author and presidential historian, Mark K. Updegrove, the former director of the LBJ Presidential Library, explores the enduring, often surprising legacy of the 36th president, the enigmatic Lyndon Baines Johnson. Playing a series of taped telephone conversations from LBJ’s administration, the audience will hear LBJ in rare, intimate moments that shed light on his consequential presidency: partnering with Martin Luther King, Jr., on seminal civil rights legislation; expressing his anguish about the Vietnam War with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara; bolstering the spirits of Jacqueline Kennedy in the wake of her husband’s assassination, which propelled Johnson into the Oval Office. The audience will get a revealing sense of LBJ’s bigger-than-life personality, passion for reform, and uncanny knack for getting things done—often through bipartisanship lacking in today’s Washington.

  • Lessons in Character and Leadership from Seven American Presidents

    Drawing on meetings and exclusive interviews with seven U.S. presidents, author and ABC New’s presidential historian, Mark K. Updegrove, examines the lessons in character and leadership he has derived from the Presidents he has known: Gerald R. Ford (Doing Right), Jimmy Carter (Doing Good), Ronald Reagan (Optimism), George H.W. Bush (Humility), Bill Clinton (Resilience), George W. Bush (Compassion), and Barack Obama (Grace). Updegrove looks at how each man, overcoming inherent flaws in his nature and setbacks in his administration, drew on the best aspects of his character to contribute to our country—and ultimately to his legacy. Accompanied by photographs and short clips from interviews, this hopeful and entertaining speech provides leadership lessons that apply to any profession, inspiring us to find the best in ourselves to make our own marks.

  • The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush:

    Based on his book of the same name, author and presidential historian, Mark K. Updegrove, tells the intimate, untold story of the relationship between the forty-first and forty-third Presidents, the most consequential father-son relationship in American history—and only the second father-son pair to achieve the presidency. Using material garnered through exclusive access to and extensive interviews with both Bush Presidents, Updegrove dispels misconceptions about their relationship while exploring their influences and perspectives on each other’s presidencies and their views on family, public service, and America’s role in the world.


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