Gwen Ifill, managing editor and moderator for PBS' "Washington Week" and senior correspondent for PBS' "The NewsHour," will deliver the keynote address at the 13th annual Barbara Jordan National Forum on Public Policy on Feb. 19 at the ATandT Conference Center.
The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs' Center for Politics and Governance (CPG) will present the Barbara Jordan National Forum: "America as Good as Its Promise?" The forum will examine the trends and implications of the 2008 presidential election with a panel titled "Bipartisanship in an Era of Polarization." The event will also feature a panel, "Closing the Gender Gap," composed of women elected to office. Highlighting the daylong forum will be Ifill, author of "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."
"The Barbara Jordan National Forum honors Professor Jordan's legacy of encouraging the thoughtful political participation of all citizens," said Veronica Vargas Stidvent, CPG director and chairwoman of the Barbara Jordan National Forum executive committee. "Her life and words seem more relevant than ever, and this year's forum will examine the implications of the 2008 presidential election in terms of bi-partisanship and polarization, and the roles of race and gender in politics. We are thrilled to have Gwen Ifill as the keynote speaker whose years of experience observing and analyzing politics and leadership will help contextualize the current political climate."
A student scholarship opportunity has been created by the 2009 Forum executive committee. Three 11th and 12th grade high school students from the Austin Independent School District will be chosen by members of the LBJ School student body based on how well they interpret a Barbara Jordan quote in their own words and describe in an essay how her ideals still live on today. The first-place winner will be awarded a $3,000 academic scholarship. Second place will receive a $1,500 academic scholarship, and the third place winner will receive a $500 academic scholarship.
Other members of the Barbara Jordan Forum executive committee include Sherri Greenberg, CPG Fellow and LBJ School professor, and two LBJ School student co-chairs, Nadia Bobb and Desiree Ledet.
In addition to her work with PBS, Ifill moderates debates in national elections. Before going to PBS, Ifill spent five years at NBC News as the chief congressional and political correspondent. Prior to that, Ifill covered the White House for The New York Times. Ifill also is on the board of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Newseum and the University of Maryland's College of Journalism.
After leaving the U.S. Congress in 1979, Barbara Jordan rejected offers to practice corporate law and instead accepted an invitation to teach public affairs and ethics at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Jordan quickly earned a reputation as an extraordinary teacher, inspiring students for 17 years until her death in 1996. Originally called the Barbara Jordan Memorial Forum on Diversity in Public Policy in its inaugural year in 1996, the Barbara Jordan Forum was organized to honor her legacy and to put a positive light on diversity in the immediate aftermath of the Hopwood decision, which prohibited the use of race in the admissions process in Texas.
In keeping with Jordan's focus on social justice and equality, forum themes have broadened to include a range of issues, including the digital divide, education, race relations and community empowerment. The Forum is held each year in February-the month the nation celebrates Black history and the month in which Jordan was born.