Former Gov. Ann Richards Returns To Alma Mater For Public Leadership Lecture

April 9, 2003
News Photo 1270

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards will deliver Baylor University's Public Leadership Series lecture at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, in Barfield Drawing Room. The lecture, which is held in conjunction with Mortar Board Women's Day, is free and open to the public.

A 1954 Baylor graduate, Richards is the second speaker in the Public Leadership Series, a new initiative at Baylor designed to increase understanding of government and the ideal of public service in society. Asa Hutchinson, director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, delivered the inaugural lecture last September.

"The Public Leadership Series is partnering with Mortar Board to celebrate Women's Day on campus, and Gov. Richards is an ideal speaker for this event," said James Odom, director of Baylor's office of public affairs. "She has strong ties to the university as a graduate and exceptional achievements in the public arena."

Throughout a distinguished career, Richards has been opening eyes about the possibilities for women in American public life. Born in Lacy-Lakeview, Richards graduated from Waco High School in 1950 and attended Baylor on a debate scholarship. After graduating, she earned a teaching certificate from the University of Texas. Her first job was teaching social studies and history at an Austin junior high school, which Richards still says is the hardest work she has ever done.

Richards' career in politics began when she served on the Austin planning and zoning commission. In 1976, she ran for a seat on the Travis County Commissioners Court, defeating a three-term incumbent to become the first woman to serve as commissioner in the county's 136-year history. In 1982, she made history again when she was elected state treasurer, becoming the first woman to win a statewide office in Texas in half a century. She was reelected without opposition in 1986, then burst onto the national scene in 1988, when she delivered the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention.

Richards left the treasurer's post in 1990 to run for governor. On Jan. 15, 1991, she was sworn in as the state's 45th governor - the first woman elected to that job in her own right.

After leaving the governor's office, Richard worked with a Washington law firm as an adviser, taught a popular course at Brandeis University and expanded an already busy speaking schedule. She now works as a senior adviser with Public Strategies Inc., an Austin-based consulting firm that helps companies analyze, develop and implement their public agendas. She also is a member of several boards, including Brandeis University, J.C. Penney, the Aspen Institute and Save the Children Federation.

Richards continues to travel the country, speaking about issues of concern to her. She also makes time for her family, which includes four grown children and seven grandchildren.

For more information, call the office of public affairs at (254) 710-1421.

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