Election Issues

dnc speakers, democratic convention speakers, dnc colorado
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., right, and former Indiana
Rep. Lee Hamilton arrive at the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner in Indianapolis, Sunday,
May 4, 2008.

Campaign Profiles: Key Speakers at the Democratic National Convention: Monday

August 25, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
findingDulcinea profiles Monday's speakers at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, including John Hickenlooper, Lee Hamilton, Maya Soetoro-Ng and Jerry Kellman.

John Hickenlooper

Riding into office on his trademark scooter in 2003, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper inherited a city in need of a new direction. Hampered by a $70 million budget deficit and a police force often in the news for all the wrong reasons, Denver needed a fresh start and they certainly got one with “Mayor Hick.”

The Pennsylvania-born Hickenlooper is a former geologist who entered the public spotlight as an early investor in the city’s faltering downtown, opening a series of restaurants and Denver’s first brew pub. A lanky, amiable figure on the Denver scene, Hickenlooper quickly became a favorite among voters with a political approach that stressed broad but green development. Chosen by Time magazine as one of the country’s five best mayors just two years after winning his first term, Hickenlooper was re-elected with 87 percent of the vote last year.
A popular Democrat on the national stage, the Wesleyan University graduate is married to writer Helen Thorpe and has so far avoided calls to seek higher office.

Lee Hamilton

A 34-year veteran of Congress, Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana has become an elder statesman of Democratic politics. Since retiring from the House in 1999, Hamilton has acted as Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University as well as Director and President of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

After graduating from DePauw University and earning a law degree from Indiana University, Hamilton entered Congress in 1965, serving on a number of economic and foreign policy committees during his tenure.
Hamilton’s foreign policy experience brought him back into the public eye when he served as the Vice Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission. He later became co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group.

He currently serves on the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. Hamilton was an early supporter of Barack Obama, endorsing him in April of this year, while much of his home state stood behind Hillary Clinton for the nomination.

Born in Dayton Beach, Florida, Hamilton is married to Nancy Ann Nelson and has three children and five grandchildren.

Maya Soetoro-Ng

The half-sister of Barack Obama, Maya Soetoro-Ng was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1970, but has spent most of her life in Hawaii, where she currently resides. Raised mainly by her mother, Ann Durham, after a separation from her father, Lolo Soetoro, Maya describes an “untethered” childhood alongside her brother, but one that produced a close relationship despite their ten-year age difference.

The holder of a PhD in Education from the University of Hawai’i at Maroa, Soetoro-Ng is now a high school teacher at the La Pieta School for Girls in Honolulu, as well as a night instructor at the local university.
She joined Obama on the trail earlier this year, and has taken time off from her teaching position to help campaign on behalf of her brother in Hawaii and across the West.

Soetoro is married to Konrad Ng, a Chinese-Canadian assistant professor at the University of Hawai’i at Maroa’s Academy of Creative Media, and has a daughter named Suhaila.

Jerry Kellman

Kellman is a former New Yorker whose work as a Chicago community organizer introduced Obama to the vocation at the age of 24. After receiving Obama’s resume, Kellman met Obama in a coffee shop and “tried to convince him to come to a place where he'd never been, to work for $10,000 a year and a $2,000 car allowance in a very low-status job to help people who were out of work and living in a neighborhood that had been devastated,” Kellman told the Rocky Mountain News in 2007.
Now working as Director of Spiritual Formation for Catholic parishes in Chicago, Kellman is frequently interviewed about his former protégé, describing the young Obama as a man who “found his roots and a home” in Chicago and who, at 24, was “politically naive but idealistic.”

At the DNC, Kellman will likely provide more context to Obama’s early career, sharing his own experiences working for secular and religious groups and his time working with and directing Obama.

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