The Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership presents John Seigenthaler in the third session of the “now that you ask…” Conversation Series hosted by Tom Ingram, an influential adviser to corporate and government officials for four decades.
On Thursday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. in Shamblin Theatre, Ingram will pull back the curtain on the long life and unique experiences of Seigenthaler, a hero of American journalism and politics who played a role in the Kennedy administration’s handling of the civil rights movement, helped to establish USA Today and the First Amendment Center, and shaped Tennessee journalism and politics through his 43 years as a reporter and editor of The Tennessean. This event is free and open to the public.
Seigenthaler served for 43 years as an award-winning journalist for The Tennessean, Nashville's morning newspaper. At his retirement he was editor, publisher and CEO. In 1982, he became founding editorial director of USA Today and served in that position for a decade, retiring from both the Nashville and national newspapers in 1991. Seigenthaler founded the First Amendment Center, based in Nashville, in 1991 with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue and debate about First Amendment rights and values.
He left journalism briefly in the early 1960s to serve in the U.S. Justice Department as administrative assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. His work in the field of civil rights led to his service as chief negotiator with the governor of Alabama during the Freedom Rides. During that crisis, while attempting to aid Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Ala., he was attacked by a mob of Klansmen and hospitalized.
Seigenthaler hosts a weekly book-review program, "A Word On Words." He is a senior advisory trustee of the Freedom Forum; chair of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards for the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights; and chairman emeritus of the annual Profile in Courage Award selection committee of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. He is also a member of the Constitution Project on Liberty and Security, created after the Sept. 11 tragedies, and served on the 18-member National Commission on Federal Election Reform organized in 2001 by former Presidents Carter and Ford.
The “now that you ask…” Conversation Series is hosted by Tom Ingram, the man called the “most influential person in Tennessee politics who does not hold elected office.” The series brings Ingram’s bipartisan, common sense approach to government and politics straight to the table with discussions and debates featuring guests from across the business and political worlds. The previous editions of “now that you ask…” featured a one-on-one with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee’s First Lady Crissy Halslam.
Ingram, founder of The FIRST Group in Washington, D.C., and The Ingram Group in Nashville, was appointed a leader-in-residence at the Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership in September 2011. While serving in Washington, Ingram was regularly named by Roll Call as one of its “Fabulous Fifty” most influential people on the Hill.
Ingram spent most of the last decade as a top aide to Senate Republicans, holding the dual roles of chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander and staff director for the Senate Republican Conference. He recently served as a senior advisor to former China Ambassador Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign and continues as an advisor to Senators Alexander and Bob Corker and Governor Bill Haslam after successfully guiding their statewide elections.