The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences proudly welcomes Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) as the next guest in their Rebuilding Democracy Lecture Series at 2 p.m. CT on Feb. 18.
The 45-minute event, conducted on Zoom, will feature Duckworth discussing a variety of topics such as rebuilding democracy; supporting women, families and persons with disabilities and environmental justice with Dean Robert Brinkmann. A moderated question and answer session will follow.
The program is free and open to the public, but advanced registration is required. Go to go.niu.edu/Rebuilding-Democracy-RSVP to request a link to the event prior to Feb. 18. Event links will be sent out from the [email protected] mailbox one day prior to the event.
Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms. She earned degrees from the University of Hawaii and George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and was honored with an honorary degree from NIU in 2010.
Duckworth was working toward a Ph.D. in political science at NIU when she was deployed to Iraq in 2004. After her helicopter was hit by an RPG and she losing her legs and partial use of her right arm on Nov. 12, 2004, Sen. Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she quickly became an advocate for her fellow soldiers. After she recovered, she became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where she helped create a tax credit for employers that hire Veterans, established a first-in-the-nation 24/7 Veterans crisis hotline and developed innovative programs to improve Veterans’ access to housing and health care.
In 2009, President Obama appointed her as an assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs, where she coordinated programs to help end Veteran homelessness, address the unique challenges faced by female and Native American Veterans, and created the Office of Online Communications to improve the VA’s accessibility.
In the U.S. House, Duckworth served on the Armed Services Committee and was an advocate for working families and job creation, introducing bills like her bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act to ensure new mothers have access to safe, clean and accessible lactation rooms when traveling through airports, which is now law. She helped lead passage of the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV Act, which enhanced efforts to track and reduce Veteran suicides. She also passed the Troop Talent Act to help returning Veterans find jobs in the private sector and worked to cut waste and fraud at the Pentagon and throughout government, including passing a common-sense provision that was projected to save taxpayers $4 billion by reducing redundancy in military uniforms.
In the U.S. Senate, Duckworth advocates for practical, common-sense solutions needed to move our state and country forward like rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, protecting Illinoisans from lead poisoning, growing manufacturing jobs while supporting minority-owned small businesses, investing in communities that have been ignored for too long and making college more affordable for all Americans. She co-founded the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus and also continues her lifelong mission of supporting, protecting and keeping the promises we’ve made to our Veterans as well as ensuring that we fully support troops deployed overseas. In 2018, after Duckworth became the first Senator to give birth while serving in office, she sent a message to working families across the country about the value of family-friendly policies by securing a historic rules change that allows Senators to bring their infant children onto the Senate floor.
She serves on several influential committees that give her a platform to advocate for Illinois’s working families and entrepreneurs: the Armed Services Committee; the Environment & Public Works Committee; the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.
The Rebuilding Democracy Lecture Series showcases how the liberal arts and sciences is at the center of a healthy democracy, addressing various aspects of what needs to be addressed in order to rebuild democracy and bring together a very fractured society – everything from restoring civility, our legislative and judicial branches, rebuilding our diplomatic and intelligence offices, taking care of our military personnel, media as well as topical issues such as education, healthcare, public health, budget and finance, sustainability/environmental issues, social justice/human rights.