Prominent UM Alumni Lobbyists to Speak at Overby

OXFORD, Miss. – Three of Washington’s most prominent lobbyists will discuss how things get done in the nation’s capital Thursday (April 19) during a program at the University of Mississippi.

The program features Ole Miss graduates John Hall, senior vice president of public relations for the American Bankers Association; Joel Wood, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers; and Lee Sanders, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs for the American Bakers Association. The 1 p.m. discussion at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics is free and open to the public.

Wood, who is also chief administrator of the insurance council’s political action committee, was named one of the top trade association lobbyists in Washington by The Hill newspaper in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2002, he was named one of the industry’s “35 rising stars” by Business Insurance magazine. He got his start in Washington on the staff of U.S. Rep. Don Sundquist, who later became governor of Tennessee.

Sanders, who represents the baking industry before Congress, also serves as the industry’s spokesperson. She once worked as an aide to Mississippi’s U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. She served in the White House Counsel’s Office and with the Department of Treasury’s Office of Legislative Affairs under President George H.W. Bush.

Hall, who once handled public relations for Up With People, is responsible for the ABA’s media outreach on financial topics ranging from credit cards to credit unions. His public relations staff fields more than 3,000 media calls each year, sharing the banker’s perspective and defending the industry when necessary.

“These three Ole Miss grads are true heavyweights on the national scene,” said Overby Fellow Bill Rose, who will moderate the panel. “At a time when national politics are dominated by partisan bickering, it will be instructive to get their take on how things work in Washington.”

The event is one of the last of a busy spring season at the Overby Center. The semester has included an appearance by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, an exploration of the state’s GOP roots by founders of the modern Mississippi Republican Party, a look back at Robert F. Kennedy’s “hunger tour” of the Mississippi Delta with Marian Wright Edelman and other civil rights figures, and a panel of some of the nation’s top public relations and marketing experts, including Harold Burson, described by PR Week as “the century’s most influential PR figure.”

Click here for more information on the Overby Center.