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The newly renovated LBJ Museum of San Marcos, in collaboration with the Community Learning Exchange at Texas State University, will host its first conference on education and community-building Jan. 5-8.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Higher Education Act of 1965 in Master's Gymnasium on the campus of what is now Texas State University.

The LBJ Museum of San Marcos will serve as headquarters for the Community Learning Exchange titled “The Politics of Education and Community Development: Creating Healthy Communities through Collective Leadership.”

More than seventy community leaders from around the country will convene at the LBJ Museum in downtown San Marcos for the Central Texas CLE. The group will also share learning space at the university’s LBJ Student Center, as well as the State Capitol in Austin. For the past ten years, the CLE has convened numerous community-building organizations that work and learn together to affect positive change in their communities and institutions.

According to Texas State Professor Dr. Miguel Guajardo, the CLE gained momentum in 2008 when 11 communities that had been working together for several years with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched the Community Leadership Exchange as a way to spread wisdom about collective leadership for community change to other communities across the United States.

Guajardo said the network of “resilient local communities, vibrant organizations and active change agents continually strive to share their local wisdom and collective leadership approaches with each other so they can be more effective in addressing critical social issues.”

“Participants envision a world in which community challenges are addressed, not by individual leaders but by collective leadership, groups of local residents working together for sustainable change in 21st Century settings,” Guajardo explains.

Said Guajardo, “The bourgeoning CLE family comprises a diverse and dynamic array of social change agents – educators, educational leaders, community activists, community developers and the like – from more than 40 communities across the country, including Texas, Michigan, Washington, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, and New Mexico.

The Central Texas CLE will engage participants in conversations about the politics of education and community development. The CLE will revisit the historical context of Central Texas, its contribution to the national consciousness and political ethos through its most recognizable citizen, President Lyndon B. Johnson. “We could think of no better place to hold the gathering than the (newly restored) LBJ Museum in San Marcos, a space that reflects the incredible contributions of President Johnson is quite humbling,” said Lee Francis, a long-time participant of the CLE and current student coordinator for the gathering.

The organization’s last exchange was held in Seattle, Washington, this past May. Seventy participants from across the United States are expected to attend the local program. Organized into community teams, those attending will spend their time here working and learning, and continue through the weekend with stories, reflections and action planning.

“We are honored to make the LBJ Museum of San Marcos available for this group’s conference,” says LBJ Museum Board President Pat Murdock.

“Although our second floor is renovated and the new elevator makes the facility 100 percent accessible, we still have issues, including a leaking roof and not enough chairs,” Murdock said, adding, “We appreciate Dr. Guajardo’s desire to use the museum, warts and all. This is the sort of educational program that fits the museum’s focus on this nation’s ‘Education President’ so it is extremely appropriate for us to make our facilities available to them. Texas State University remains the only university in the State of Texas to have graduated a U.S. President.”

After checking into Embassy Suites on Thursday, Jan. 5, participants will attend an opening reception that evening at the LBJ Museum of San Marcos. They will spend most of Friday on the Texas State University campus.

On Saturday afternoon, participants will visit several communities, educational institutions, and community-based organizations throughout the San Marcos and Central Texas area, including the state capitol, and returning to the LBJ Museum of San Marcos for a catered dinner and closure that evening. Most will depart for home from Embassy Suites Sunday morning.

For information about the conference, contact Dr. Miguel Guajardo at 512-245-6579, mg50@txstate.edu, or check the organization’s website at www.communitylearningexchange.org.

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