Following a successful career in public service spanning more than 25 years—culminating as Missouri’s Treasurer and then as Governor, Bob Holden is now a recognized influence in the private sector. Governor Holden utilizes his rich experience, communications network, and ability to inspire others as tools in economic development and public policy education. Through events, education, and public forums, Governor Bob Holden invites communities, students, policy leaders, businesses, and investors to think differently about how the central United States engages with the world.
Governor Holden is the founder and Director of the Holden Public Policy Forum at Webster University. He also teaches political science and communications classes at the University.
Governor Holden presently serves as Chairman of the Midwest-U.S. China Association (MWCA), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that encourages commerce between 12 states in the Midwestern United States and China. MWCA focuses on government-to- government outreach with corporate and academic support to expand trade and investment in both countries. The work of the MWCA is founded on its fundamental values for growth, partnership, and opportunity, and strives to increase awareness of the unlimited potential available in the Midwest, which offers unparalleled capacity for innovation and economic growth.
Throughout his career, Governor Holden’s primary domestic issue focus has been a focus on children and education. He has also been defined as an aggressive advocate for often marginalized groups including older adults, lower income families, and women. As Treasurer, he was responsible for the creation of theMOST program, a college savings program recognized as one of the best in the United States. As Governor, while tightening spending and maintaining a balanced budget, Holden vigorously defended vital state services for children and older adults. He turned back legislative efforts to eliminate health care services for more than 80,000 Missouri children, and secured increased funding for Missouri schools. He created the state’s first Youth Cabinet to involve students in state government and public service. Holden also enacted the state’s first comprehensive Women’s health initiative, and advanced Missouri’s ranking for women in leadership positions from 41st to 5th in the nation.
While Governor, Bob Holden demonstrated his commitment to both domestic and international economic development. During his administration, Missouri was ranked among the top 10 states in job creation, at a time when the country suffered an overall net loss of jobs. During this period, a record number of new businesses were created statewide. While other states faced declining revenues and severe fiscal challenges, Governor Holden maintained Missouri’s AAA credit rating on its public debt obligations. He also led successful trade missions to Japan, Italy, Mexico, and China, and established Missouri’s trade development office in Shanghai.
Governor Holden has been and remains a leader among leaders. While Governor, he served as Chairman of the Midwest Governors’ Association, and chaired the Southern Governor’s Association TeleHealth Committee. He remains active with the National Governor’s Association. Since leaving office, he has frequently traveled to China to speak and to promote economic relations. In 2008, he accompanied then-Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, Senator Kit Bond (R), Senator Claire McCaskill (D), and other leading government and business leaders to China to discuss the development of the international air cargo hub in St. Louis.
Governor Holden leads in the private sector through his work with The Holden Group, LLC. The Holden Group is a Midwest enterprise focused on promoting and developing new initiatives that improve the public good. Projects include consultation for the Midwest Governors’ Association, work with private developers and transportation industry clients, and economic investment development.
Born in Kansas City, and raised in rural Birch Tree in the Ozark Hills of southern Missouri, Governor Holden graduated from Southwest Missouri State University with a degree in political science. He also completed coursework for government executives at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Bob met his wife, Lori Hauser Holden during his first campaign for public office. They have two sons, Robert Holden and John D. Holden, and reside in Jefferson City, Missouri.