April 9, 2012 

O’Bannon Institute panels to feature former member of Congress, labor and law activists, political commentators

The 2012 O’Bannon Institute for Community Service Panel Discussions at Ivy Tech-Bloomington will take place in the Connie and Steve Ferguson Academic Building throughout the day on Friday, April 27, and will feature discussions with a former member of Congress, labor and law activists, and political commentators.

Institute registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Panel discussions will follow opening remarks by Former Indiana First Lady, Judy O’Bannon. Discussions will focus specifically on how citizens view the modern political process and their elected officials, how organizations inspire supporters to become interested and active in a cause or movement, and a forecast of the 2012 Presidential elections and what issues will be hot as the summer and fall seasons approach.

The panel discussion schedule and member list is as follows:

Panel One: The Heroes We Love to Hate
9:30 a.m.
John Tanner, Former Member of Congress (D-TN); Vice Chairman, Prime Policy Group, Of Counsel to Miller & Martin, PLLC
Robert Vane, President, Veteran Strategies, Inc.; WRTV Commentator
Jennifer Wagner, President, Darvel Communications
Bruce Haynes, Founding Partner, Purple Strategies
Maureen Hayden, Statehouse Bureau Chief, CNHI
Moderator: Debby Knox, WISH News Anchor

Panel Two: The Art of Activism
11 a.m.
Guy Loftman, Attorney, former IU Student Body President, Anti-Vietnam War activist
Betty Cockrum, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Indiana
Mike Fichter, President and CEO, Indiana Right to Life
Joseph Varga, Ph.D., IU Professor of Labor Studies, former Teamster
Moderator: Chuck Carney, Director Communications and Media Relations, IU School of Education

Panel Three: The Drama of Obama v. ?
1:15 p.m.
Kip Tew, Partner, Krieg DeVault; 2008 Obama for America State Chair; WRTV Commentator; former Chairman, Marion Co. Democratic Party
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, lawyer, former host of “Abdul in the Mornings” (WRTV commentator), Publisher of
Fred Yang, Partner, Garin Hart Yang Research Group
Shira Toeplitz, Staff Writer, Roll Call, The Newspaper of Capitol Hill
Moderator: Ken Owen, Executive Director of Media Relations, DePauw University

Cokie Roberts, political commentator for ABC News, will capstone Ivy Tech-Bloomington’s ninth annual O’Bannon Institute for Community Service with a closing conversation on Friday, April 27 at 2:30 p.m. in the Hoosier Times Student Commons.

George F. Will, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, will headline the Institute’s fundraising dinner on Thursday, April 26 at the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center. Tickets are still available at $100 per person, a portion of which is tax deductible. Proceeds benefit the Ivy Tech-Bloomington Center for Civic Engagement.

Each year, as part of the O’Bannon Institute for Community Service, Ivy Tech students, faculty and staff participate in a Day of Service in our communities and that will take place on Thursday, April 26 beginning at 8 a.m. To kick off O’Bannon Institute events, Ivy Tech-Bloomington will host its annual Civic Engagement Awards on Wednesday, April 25 to recognize faculty, staff, and community partners for excellence in volunteerism.

The O’Bannon Institute launched nine years ago by Ivy Tech-Bloomington is an annual opportunity for the community to come together to discuss topics related to nonprofits, education and political and civic service. Previous speakers at the Institute have included former U.S. Senators, Pulitzer prize-winning authors, Governors, political advisers and columnists, and Laura W. Bush, former First Lady of the United States.

O’Bannon Institute fundraising dinner tickets can be purchased online at or by contacting Tina Phelps at (812) 330-6001 or

Admission for Friday’s Institute panels and conversation at Ivy Tech is with a canned good or free-will donation for Hoosier Hills Food Bank. Reservations are required and can be made at and then click “Tickets,” or by contacting Tina Phelps at 330-6001 or Lunch is provided.

O’Bannon Institute speaker information and panel schedules can be found online at

Ivy Tech Community College ( is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. 


Featured speaker bios:

Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News. From 1996-2002 she and Sam Donaldson co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program This Week. Ms. Roberts also serves as Senior News Analyst for National Public Radio. In her more than forty years in broadcasting, she has won countless awards, including three Emmys. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the fifty greatest women in the history of broadcasting.

George F. Will is today’s most widely read columnist. His newspaper column has been syndicated by The Washington Post since 1974. It currently appears in 400 newspapers in the United States and in Europe.  He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for commentary for his columns. Altogether, eight collections of Will’s Newsweek and Washington Post columns have been published, the most recent being One Man’s America. He became a founding panel member on ABC television’s This Week in 1981.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.