Kenneth A. Hersh, president and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas has been selected for membership in the prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education.
He joins 10 other business, civic, and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2024 honors, the organization said.
“Kenneth Hersh’s unwavering commitment to educational, social, and humanitarian causes, coupled with his remarkable career, make him a natural choice for the Horatio Alger Award,” Terrence J. Giroux, executive director of the Horatio Alger Association, said in a statement. “As the chairman of the Hersh Foundation, his work with renowned academic and civic institutions underscores his dedication to shaping a brighter future for young minds. We are proud to induct him as a lifetime member.”
For more than 75 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been bestowed each year upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their communities.
Challenges lead to resilience and success
Born and raised in Dallas, Hersh’s early life was marked by the challenging aftermath of his parents’ divorce when he was 12 years old.
According to the association, Hersh responded to this difficult period as a teenager and realized the importance of self-sufficiency in navigating life’s toughest moments. That resilient mindset proved invaluable as he co-founded an investment firm in 1988, leading it through financial storms and significant volatility over the following decades.
The association said that Hersh’s strength extended beyond his professional life as he guided his family through turbulent times while continuing to grow his business. Despite having a heart attack in 2020 that necessitated a quintuple bypass operation, Hersh’s determination showcased his self-made strength in overcoming life-threatening adversities, the association said.
After graduating from St. Mark’s School of Texas in 1981, Hersh earned a bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University in 1985 and then completed an MBA from Stanford University in 1989.
Hersh’s professional career began with a two-year stint as an analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co., specializing in oil and gas financing and mergers and acquisitions. He co-founded and served as CEO of NGP Energy Capital Management from 1988 through 2015.
Under Hersh’s leadership, NGP became one of the nation’s leading investment firms, managing over $12 billion with a 27-year gross IRR of 30%.
As president and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Hersh focuses on executing a long-term strategic plan of promoting policy solutions and public engagement to ensure opportunity for all, strengthen democracy, and advance free societies worldwide, the association said.
Simultaneously, he leads Hersh Family Investments, his private family office, and is chairman of the Hersh Foundation.
Hersh recently released his book, “The Fastest Tortoise: Winning in Industries I Knew Nothing About,” which shares insights from his diverse business and personal experiences.
Philanthropy and honors
Hersh focuses his philanthropy on organizations and initiatives that make a meaningful impact, the association said.
In 2006, he donated to St. Mark’s School of Texas to build the Robert K. Hoffman Center, honoring the memory of the philanthropist and longtime trustee, Robert K. Hoffman.
Hersh also contributed to the Alcuin Montessori School in Dallas and numerous cultural and educational institutions in North Texas. Also, Hersh is active with the nation’s veterans, serving as vice chairman of the board of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation.
In 2014, Hersh was recognized as the Master Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southwest Region by Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year program.
His contributions to the oil and gas industry were acknowledged in 2017 when he received the Oil & Gas Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2020, Hersh received the L. Frank Pitts Energy Leadership Award presented by SMU for demonstrating leadership and innovation in the energy field.
In 2019, the Texoma region of the Anti-Defamation League honored Hersh with the Henry Cohn Humanitarian Award for his work in advancing human rights, dignity, and equal opportunity.
Last year, Hersh received the Ernest C. Arbuckle Award, the highest honor presented annually by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, recognizing excellence in management leadership. He was also recognized with the H. Neil Mallon Award presented by the World Affairs Council for his contribution to the region’s global presence. In addition, SMU’s Cox School of Business named Hersh as its first Distinguished Executive-in-Residence.
‘Perseverance, passion and a deep appreciation for higher education’
“I am truly honored and grateful to join the Horatio Alger Association,” Hersh said in a statement. “I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of the next generation. I hope to inspire these wonderful young people to face challenges with determination and to never let adversity stop them from making a positive impact.”
This is the 40th year that the association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The scholarships are made possible by the generosity of Horatio Alger members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to over 35,000 students.
“It is our utmost honor to present the Horatio Alger Award to these 11 outstanding leaders who have exemplified perseverance, passion, and a deep appreciation for higher education,” James F. Dicke II, chairman of Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient, said in a statement. “These influential leaders not only spearhead their own endeavors, but they give generously to causes, organizations and communities in need. Our 2024 awardees embody the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for anyone who seeks it.”
Hersh and the member class of 2024 will be formally inducted into the association on April 4-6, during the association’s annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.
Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.