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Judy O’Bannon’s new role: Peace House spokesperson

Former Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon of Corydon announced last week that she has taken a part-time job as a spokesperson for Indianapolis Peace House, a new undergraduate studies program sponsored by three private Hoosier colleges: Earlham College, Goshen College and Manchester College.
She will spend about 10 hours a week as director of external affairs at the group’s headquarters in Indianapolis. Lesley Stedman Weidenbener reported in The Courier-Journal last Friday that this will give O’Bannon a base for her many activities throughout Indiana since she left the governor’s temporary residence at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis following the death of her husband, Gov. Frank L. O’Bannon, last fall.
Judy O’Bannon helped mastermind and secure the funding for the year-long remodeling of the Governor’s Residence on Meridian Street to make it more handicapped accessible. O’Bannon’s successor, Gov. Joe Kernan, and his wife, Maggie, recently moved into the Governor’s Residence.
Judy O’Bannon will look for a house or apartment in Indianapolis and continue to spend most of her time there (she lives with her daughter, Jennifer O’Bannon), but will spend some weekends at her farmhouse retreat near the Harrison-Crawford State Forest west of Corydon. Next month she is scheduled to go to Indonesia, Hong Kong and elsewhere on a business and fund-raising trip with Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity.
‘I think a great deal of my work now will be one of advocacy, of telling people what’s going on with Peace House,’ she told a press conference last week. ‘In the process, I’ll pick up ideas, connections, network with people and organizations who already are in Indianapolis who have so much feedback to give Peace House.’
Starting next fall, Peace House will provide a semester of peace studies for undergraduates from the three sponsoring colleges plus other schools. Peace House is part of a broader program called Plowshares, which promotes peace and justice studies across the country. Lilly Endowment Inc. funded Plowshares with a $13.8 million grant. The collaborative program, now two years old, takes its name from the words in Isaiah 2 about beating swords into plowshares.
Parker G. Marden, the president of Manchester College, said, ‘We certainly welcome Judy O’Bannon to the Plowshares program. Her career as a public servant in support of concerns in Indiana for community, peace and social justice is legendary and bipartisan. Our students will greatly benefit from her talents and experience.’
The students will have internships in Indianapolis and attend classes in the Old Centrum building, located at the Central Avenue United Methodist Church on the near north side of Indianapolis. The church is next to the old mansion the O’Bannons lived in while he was lieutenant governor. During those years, Judy O’Bannon became active in reviving the inner city neighborhood and saving the historic Old Centrum building. She now co-chairs the Old Centrum Foundation.
Erwin Boschmann, vice chancellor and professor of chemistry at the Indiana University East campus in Richmond, has been named executive director of Peace House.
Judy O’Bannon will continue to help communities prepare for Indiana’s 2016 bicentennial and host her public television series, ‘Communities Building Community.’
In addition to Marden, Boschmann and O’Bannon, other members of the Peace House board of directors are Shirley H. Showalter, president of Goshen College; Douglas C. Bennett, president of Earlham; Jan Clark, vice president of leadership for the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis; the Rev. Richard E. Hamilton, retired senior pastor at North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis; Alicia S. Roberts, a graduate student at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy; Sayyid M. Sayeed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America, Plainfield; Joanne R. Warner, associate dean for graduate programs at the Indiana University School of Nursing, and Dr. Martha Yoder, an Indianapolis physician.