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Gwen Ifill, PBS political reporter, will speak at MLK breakfast

Gwen Ifill
Gwen Ifill

Political reporter Gwen Ifill will be the keynote speaker for MIT's 31st annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Justice and Equality for All: America's Moral Dilemma." Ifill will deliver her remarks at the celebratory breakfast in Walker Memorial's Morss Hall on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 a.m. MIT President Susan Hockfield will host the breakfast.

Ifill holds two of the most highly respected posts in her field. She is moderator and managing editor of Washington Week, the longest-running public affairs program on public television, and senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

For Washington Week, Ifill selects each week's stories to examine, chooses each panel of leading Washington D.C.-based news correspondents and moderates the lively Q&A format on air. Ifill is also frequently asked to moderate debates in national elections, most recently the Vice Presidential debate during the 2004 election.

On The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS's nightly newscast, Ifill is a familiar presence as both a correspondent and a moderator. She helps provide its trademark in-depth coverage of current events with a unique mix of informed debates, comprehensive interviews and expansive feature stories. Ifill spent several years as a Washington Week panelist before assuming the moderator's chair in 1999.

Prior to joining PBS, Ifill served at NBC News for five years as chief congressional and political correspondent. While at NBC she covered national political stories for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Today, Meet the Press and MSNBC.

Ifill also worked as a reporter at papers such as The New York Times, where she covered the White House and politics, The Washington Post, where her focus was national and local affairs, The Baltimore Evening Sun and The Boston Herald American.

Ifill grew up in New York City and lives in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Simmons College in Boston and has received eight honorary degrees. She serves on the board of the Harvard Institute of Politics and the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

The breakfast honoring Martin Luther King is open to students and other members of the MIT community. Space is limited and reservations must be made by Tuesday, Feb. 1. To request an invitation, go to the MLKing web site.

Previous keynote speakers for the annual event include economist Julianne Malveaux (2004), NAACP chairman Julian Bond (2003), commentator and author Tavis Smiley (2002), civil rights attorney and law professor Lani Guinier (2001), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson (2000) and NAACP former president Kweisi Mfume (1999).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 12, 2005 (download PDF).

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