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Gwen Ifill selected as the keynote speaker for 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

November 11, 2009

SU News Services
(315) 443-3784

Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of PBS’ “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” will be the keynote speaker for Syracuse University’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, “Continuing the Journey: Where Do We Go From Here,” on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, in the Carrier Dome.

The annual celebration is among the largest university-sponsored events in the United States to commemorate King. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended SU’s event.

“The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee is thrilled that Gwen Ifill with be the keynote speaker as we mark the 25th anniversary of this important tradition on our campus,” says Kelly Homan Rodoski, communications manager in the Office of News Services and chair of the celebration committee. “Through her vast experience as a journalist and educator, Ms. Ifill will offer us a unique prism through which to explore how far we have come in fulfilling Dr. King’s dream and how far we still need to go.”

The evening program, which will include the presentation of the 2010 Unsung Hero Awards and entertainment, begins at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Tickets for the dinner, which precedes the program at 5 p.m., are $25 for the general public and $15 for students without meal plans. Students with meal plans will be charged for one dinner. Tickets, which generally sell out soon after they go on sale, will be available on Tuesday, Dec. 1. For ticket information, call Hendricks Chapel at (315) 443-5044.

Nominations for the Unsung Hero awards are currently being accepted through Friday, Nov. 20. Nomination forms are available at

Ifill will also take part in “A Conversation with Gwen Ifill,” a discussion based on her 2009 book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium.

A community festival celebrating arts, culture and education in the Syracuse community will be held on Saturday, Jan. 23, from 2-4 p.m. at a location to be determined.

In addition to her roles as moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” Ifill is frequently asked to moderate debates in national elections, most recently the vice presidential debate during the 2008 election.

Ifill joined both “Washington Week” and “NewsHour” in 1999, interviewing newsmakers and reporting on issues ranging from foreign affairs to politics. In 2009, “Washington Week” was honored with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award.

Before coming to PBS, she spent five years at NBC News as chief congressional and political correspondent. She still appears as an occasional roundtable panelist on “Meet ThePress.”

Ifill joined NBC News from The New York Times, where she covered the White House and politics. She also covered national and local affairs for The Washington Post, the Baltimore Evening Sun and the Boston Herald American.

She has received more than a dozen honorary doctorates and is the recipient of several broadcasting excellence awards, including honors from the National Press Foundation, Ebony Magazine, the Radio Television News Directors Association and American Women in Radio and Television.

A native of New York City and a graduate of Simmons College in Boston, Ifill serves on the boards of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Newseum and the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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