"This campaign season has created a vulnerability to those who promise quick panaceas,
along with schoolyard bravado," which "demean and endanger our best traditions and
values of openness and acceptance and change." That's what Jill Schuker '66 told the audience when she received the Distinguished Achievement Award at this year's Reunion.
Schuker put her Skidmore government degree to work as an aide to Robert F. Kennedy
and later headed the D.C. center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, served as senior public-affairs director at the National Security Council
and a special assistant to the president for national security during the Clinton
administration, and helped lead the the State Department and the US Mission to the
UN during the Carter administration. [full profile here]
Schuker told the Reunion crowd that it's time to demand and value genuine public service:
"We should want our best selves to be seeking, not rejecting, public office." And
the news media must provide "more reality and less 'reality show' ... After all, a
free press is our tribune and our surrogate."
Calling for all participants in our democracy to put "skin in the game," she said,
"We cannot afford to just be on the sidelines as silent, sullen observers." Citing
her "real faith in 'the better angels of our nature,'" she proposed: "What about restoring
civics to our classrooms and seriously considering national service for all-civilian
or military, men and women, at home or abroad?" [full speech here]
Minutes later the Palamountain Distinguished Achievement Award, for young alumni,
went to Jessyca Dudley '06. A gun-violence analyst for the Joyce Foundation, she previously implemented disease-prevention
and outreach programs in Chicago and fought HIV/AIDS as a Peace Corps worker in South
Africa. With her women's studies degree, she also holds a master's in public health.
[scroll down here for full profile]
In a Skidmore podcast after Reunion, Dudley spoke of the Wear Orange campaign and
small legislative wins to reduce gun violence in the US. As an avid researcher, she
said, "I love to geek out" by reading research papers, summarizing them, and sharing
the knowledge with others-building relationships with police, advocacy groups, legislators,
public-health officers, and others. In the face of legal and political impediments
to the gathering of gun-violence data by the government, she hopes to find ways to
expand the tracking of gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Research shows that the presence of a gun in the house does increase the chances for
both gun suicide and gun homicide.
Dudley noted that "gun policy is related to domestic violence policy." So some of
her work seeks to strengthen rules about gun removal from domestic abusers. Also,
since "state lines are porous" when it comes to illegal guns, she argues for better
interstate enforcement. [full podcast here]