Nobel Peace Prize Winner to Address Public at USAO Oct. 30

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September-26-2008
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Nobel Peace Prize winner and humanitarian Jody Williams will be the featured speaker during the Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service on Oct. 30 at USAO. Her presentation is scheduled at 8 p.m. in the Te Ata Memorial Auditorium. Williams discusses how individuals can change the course of society and make a difference in the world. The event is free and open to the public.


CHICKASHA – Humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jody Williams’ audiences include the United Nations, the European Parliament and the Organization of African Unity. On Oct. 30, she will add Chickasha.

Williams will address the public as part of the first annual Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The free presentation is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Williams also will be a part of a panel discussion from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater at USAO.

Williams is the founding coordinator and campaign ambassador of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). The ICBL was formally launched by six nongovernmental organizations in 1992. Williams has overseen the growth of ICBL to more than 1,300 nongovernmental organizations in more than 85 countries.

Working in an unprecedented cooperative effort with governments, UN bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICBL achieved its goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines in 1997 when 122 nations signed the treaty. One week after that historic event, Williams became the tenth woman in history to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She was the third American woman to receive the prize.

She continues to promote human rights. Williams is a tireless crusader against war and the lingering effects that armed conflicts have wrought around the world. She discusses the importance of both human and national security in the world today.

Williams has written extensively on the problem of landmines and the movement to ban them. Williams is the co-author of a study – based on two years of field research in four mine-affected countries – detailing the social-economic consequences of landmine contaminations.

Before working with ICBL, Williams worked for 11 years to build public awareness about U.S. policy toward Central America. From 1986-92, she developed and directed humanitarian relief projects as deputy director of the Los Angeles-based Medical Aid for El Salvador. She has served as co-coordinator of the Nicaragua-Honduras Education Project and taught English as a second language in Mexico, the United Kingdom and Washington, D.C.

In addition to Williams, four other presenters will take part in a panel discussion at 4 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheatre at USAO.

Bob Dixson is the mayor of Greensburg, Kan. The town received national media attention after a deadly tornado leveled it in 2007. Community members and leaders made the decision to rebuild the town environmentally friendly or “green.” The city has been featured on numerous news programs and is the subject of a documentary on Planet Green – a sister network of The Discovery Channel. Dixson was born and raised in Northwest Kansas and has been a resident of Greensburg since 1985. He retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 26 years. Dixson was the postmaster of Greensburg for 16 years. He has also served on school boards and church boards.

Amy Ingram is a founding teacher and assistant principal of KIPP Reach College Preparatory in Oklahoma City. The Knowledge is Power Program is a national network of high performing schools that teach underserved children across the United States. Ingram trained at Columbia University for the past four years to learn the craft of teaching developing readers and writers. She authored and teaches the reading and writing workshop curriculum that has placed her students among the highest performing students in the state of Oklahoma. Ingram’s students have earned more than $2 million in scholarships for private high schools across the country in just the past three years. She was featured in People magazine for her work in creating a college preparatory school for inner-city students. She graduated from USAO and received the Young Alumni Award in 2007.

Marilyn Luper Hildreth is the daughter of Clara Luper, who is known to many as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Hildreth was an instigator and participant in the August 1958 sit-in at the Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City – one of the first civil rights protests in the United States. On that historic night, the NAACP Youth Council met. Hildreth, then 10, moved that the members go to Katz Drug Store and order soft drinks. That started a six-year battle. The Katz chain opened all of its lunch counters to blacks in two days, but others refused for years. After the sit-in, Hildreth and the other children were physically and verbally assaulted. Douglas High School was threatened with a bombing and Hildreth had to be escorted off campus by the FBI. Threats were also made to the Luper home.

Robert Waldrop is a fourth generation Oklahoman from Tillman County. He is the president and general manager of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and works as director of music at Epiphany Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. Waldrop is a founder of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network and was honored in 2004 with the group’s Green Shield Award for his dedication to protecting Oklahoma’s environment. He remodeled his inner city home to be more energy efficient and grows more than 100 different useful or edible plants. His home has been featured on OETA’s Stateline program. He maintains an extensive network of websites and discussion groups devoted to various aspects of sustainability and local economics.

USAO’s 2008 Ray and Mary Giles Liberal Arts Symposium is made possible through a generous gift from the Ray and Mary Giles Fund in the USAO Foundation.

Ray & Mary Giles

Ray Giles dedicated his life to public service and to the state of Oklahoma. During a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, Giles was awarded three Battle Stars, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal for his service in Europe. He returned to Caddo County in 1945 and assumed the role of wheat farmer. Giles became active in local politics, serving on the State Board of Agriculture and ultimately as an Oklahoma State Senator, a position he held from 1976 to 1992. 

 

On the bustling floor of the Oklahoma State Senate, Giles was an icon. Year after year, the senator from District 23 voted his conscience, represented the agenda of the farmer, and supported the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. 

 

Like her husband, Mary Martin Giles was dedicated to public causes, particularly education. She attended the Oklahoma College for Women in the early 1940s. She taught in Carnegie schools for five years and was a member of the Grady County Mineral Owners Association as well as her church. She was passionate about farming and issues related to farming. 

 

Ray Giles passed away in 1995, followed by Mary in 1998. Their legacy of service and commitment to family, education, and agriculture in Oklahoma lives on through the Ray and Mary Giles Lectureship at USAO.