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Jan. 27, 2010
Maryville, Mo. - Harold Ford Jr., a former U.S. Representative from Tennessee, the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and an MSNBC analyst, will speak at Northwest as part of the university's Distinguished Lecture Series.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, in the Mary Linn Auditorium of the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.
Ford, 39, who lives and works in New York and Memphis, Tenn., served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years and has been described by President Bill Clinton as "the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century."
Recently, Ford announced his plan to take a leave of absence from his job as vice chairman of Bank of America Merrill Lynch to focus on "listening to New Yorkers and discussing his goals as an independent Democrat" while he weighs a decision to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Democratic primary.
Jody Strauch, assistant professor in Northwest's mass communications department, is serving as the academic host during Ford's visit. She said she is excited to hear his lecture, having become a fan of his during the 2009 campaign and election.
"I found his contributions on MSNBC to be insightful and, at the same time, down-to-earth," Strauch said. "I think Northwest students will learn a lot about inside politics from Mr. Ford, and as he tends to be a more moderate Democrat, they will get to hear a different voice in the current debate."
During his five terms in Congress between 1996 and 2006, Ford served on the House committees for financial services, budget, and education and workforce. He established himself as a charismatic, results-oriented politician with fresh ideas and a pragmatic approach. His passion for free enterprise and balanced budgets, as well as a confidence in American ingenuity to overcome any foe, bolsters his belief that America's best days are ahead.
Ford also served on the Department of Defense Transformation Advisory Group and helped advise the Pentagon on developing a new organizational framework to defend the country.
A gifted speaker and writer, Ford was the keynote speaker for the 2000 Democratic National Convention. As a Senate candidate in 2006, Ford lost a close race in Tennessee to Republican Bob Corker.
Ford received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996 and earned a bachelor's degree in American history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992.
Angel McAdams-Prescott, director of Campus Activities, said she is pleased to have Ford, whose father also was a U.S. Representative from Tennessee, at Northwest because of his long history in American government and his family's political heritage. She said Ford will prove to be an engaging speaker, no matter his audience's political beliefs.
"As a young adult, he stepped into the forefront of political work," McAdams said. "He's been influential and took the steps to better his constituents, and it shows our students that you can continue to make a difference. His story is inspiring because, although his time in Tennessee ended, he's now pursuing other avenues and he still has a drive and commitment to Americans."
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468