Peggy Grande: Lead and live as if your legacy depends on it
As part of the third-annual PSU Votes Week hosted by the University Park Undergraduate Association, Former Executive Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, Peggy Grande spoke at the HUB-Robeson Center’s Freeman Auditorium Wednesday night to speak about life lessons, leadership, and legacy working alongside President Reagan.
Working as the President’s official photographer and secretary, she was responsible for coordinating his daily operations, events, and travel. To put it simply, anything that came across his desk, came across her desk first.
“The President always told me to never come empty-handed,” said Grande. Before she started her speech, she brought five vintage Ronald Reagan silver dollars and jelly beans with her to give out to the first five audience members to follow her on social media.
Grande described her life working alongside Reagan as incredible, filled with “pinch me I’m dreaming” moments.
“What she said was very inspiring,” said junior public relations major Ashley Newman. “It was very interesting to hear what life working alongside Ronald Reagan was like up-close and personal.”
She shared her most cherished experiences in her time under Reagan. Her husband and young kids had great relationships with the Reagan’s. She also met numerous world leaders, athletes, and celebrities, and was able to travel around the world with the President.
She showed the audience one picture she took of Reagan driving his blue Jeep around his private, yet humble ranch with Gorbachev riding shotgun. Working for Reagan taught Grande to “lead and live as if your legacy depends on it.”
Grande called Reagan a man of great patriotism, gratuity, authenticity, humility, and optimism. “He was a man of consistency. How he led and how he lived were really in line,” Grande said. “The kind and charismatic Ronald Reagan that you saw publicly, was the same person I saw behind the scenes.”
“It was really interesting to hear the viewpoint of someone who worked with someone so empowering and important in our history,” said Brad Edwards, a political science and economics major. “What she told us about Reagan showed us how great of a person he was in terms of his charisma and ability to bring people together.”