By Katie Kotowski
In a keynote address, leading political strategist David Wilhelm laid out his thoughts on what it means to be a Bobcat to those attending the Ohio University State Government Alumni Luncheon.
"I have a theory," he said. "We Bobcats have a wild streak. We choose the road less traveled. We blaze trails... We have high emotional intellect. We are not spoiled, not arrogant. We laugh. We are willing to work... We have a commitment to civil rights, to justice, to advocacy... It's in our DNA."
Comprised largely of fellow Ohio University alumni, Wilhelm's audience on Tuesday could not have been more receptive. More than 150 alumni and friends attended the 26th annual event, which seeks to bring together those involved in public service and to recognize contributions to the state of Ohio.
"The fact that we are gathered here is truly an act that speaks for itself," Wilhelm continued. "It exemplifies what makes OU special."
Wilhelm is no stranger to public service. He served as the national manager of the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton and the campaign director for Vice President Joe Biden, the mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley, and the late Paul Simon, a senator from Illinois. Wilhelm also became the youngest person in history to lead a national committee when he was named Chair of the Democratic National Committee in 1993.
Wilhelm's successes extend into his business pursuits as well. He is the founder and president of Woodland Venture Management, launching Adena Ventures and Hopewell Ventures in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Athens, Ohio. Wilhelm received his master's degree in public policy from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree from Ohio University.
In addition to Wilhelm's keynote address, highlights of the luncheon included a welcome by Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and recognition of Teri Geiger, director of government relations for Ohio University, for her work with the school.
The luncheon concluded with the awarding of the State Government Alumni Award. The award is given to Ohio University alumni who have outstanding achievements in public service. This year's recipients were Maggie Ostrowski, communications director for the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus, and Michael Miller, director of the Ohio Public Works Commission.
At a separate banquet later that evening, Wilhelm was awarded the 2008 Dan Schneider Strategic Leadership Award, which is given annually to an individual who is committed to public service and whose leadership encourages change for the better. The award, given in memory of Dan Schneider, is based on what Schneider considered to be the three key aspects of successful public leadership -- value creation, development and political management. The award recognized Wilhelm for his leadership in both the public and private sectors.