Panelists to Speak on Social and Political Change At USAO Oct. 30

Nobel Prize winner Jody Williams, left, will be the featured speaker during the Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service. In addition to her 8 p.m. presentation, Williams will moderate a panel discussion scheduled at 4 p.m. Participants on the panel include educator Amy Ingram, middle top; environmental activitist Robert Waldrop, bottom middle; Greensburg, Kansas mayor Bob Dixson, top right; and civil rights activitist Marilyn Luper Hildreth, bottom right. The symposium is free and open to the public.

Panelists to Speak on Social and Political Change At USAO Oct. 30


A panel featuring a Nobel Prize winner, an innovative educator, a community pioneer, a civil rights activist and an environmental activist will be featured as the University of Science and Arts hosts the first annual Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service Oct. 30.

The panel discussion is scheduled from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater at USAO. A presentation is also scheduled at 8 p.m. featuring humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium. Williams will be speaking on An Individual’s Impact on Social and Political Change. Both the panel discussion and the evening presentation are free and open to the public.

Williams is the founding coordinator and campaign ambassador of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). 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.

In addition to Williams, four other presenters will take part in the panel discussion.

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. He was the postmaster of Greensburg for 16 years and has served on school 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.

This summer she co-created a summer program at the Deerfield Academy in Mass. for underserved, inner city students from across the country to experience the world of a boarding school. 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 black customers 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 holds a certificate in Permaculture Design (the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient) and is an instructor for the online permaculture design course offered by Barking Frogs Permaculture. 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.