By Professor Geoffrey Cowan*
Walter and Leonore Annenberg wanted Sunnylands, their spectacular 200-acre desert estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to become the “Camp David of the West”—a place where Presidents would bring world leaders together to promote peace and facilitate international agreements. Last year Sunnylands hosted President Obama and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China in the historic “shirtsleeves summit” that helped them to forge a personal relationship and led to an historic agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year, Sunnylands again hosted the President, this time for a meeting on the Syrian refugee crisis with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
In creating Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, Walter and Leonore Annenberg also specifically encouraged it to work with the Annenberg Schools at USC and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to hosting world leaders, hopefully it will become a part of the life of students and faculty who want to visit another great Annenberg venue and to create important meetings designed to make a major impact on the world. With the virtue of total privacy in an extraordinary setting that includes a nine-hole golf course and 11 lakes, Sunnylands offers leaders an exceptional place to pause, reflect, build meaningful connections and to focus on major challenges.
*Cowan is also Director of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy and President of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands