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OKC Town Hall lecture series announces 2013-2014 speakers including Rick Steves and Jack Hanna

In September, travel writer and television host Rick Steves will discuss “Rick Steves’ Iran” during the OKC Town Hall Lecture Series. Photo provided.
In September, travel writer and television host Rick Steves will discuss “Rick Steves’ Iran” during the OKC Town Hall Lecture Series. Photo provided.

By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter

The Oklahoma City Town Hall Lecture Series, in its 81st consecutive season, will feature six nationally and internationally known experts who will speak on topics ranging from Iran, animals, Oklahoma history, insight into Washington D.C., Cuba and the economic outlook.

The Lecture Series will be held at 10:30 a.m. on the third Thursday of each month at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 222 N.W. 15 St.

Town Hall President Carol Kaspereit said, “We have scheduled outstanding speakers that will enrich, enlighten and entertain the audience.”

On Thursday, Sept. 19, travel writer and public television host Rick Steves will discuss “Rick Steves’ Iran.” Steves refers to Iran as, “The most poorly understood, yet fascinating land” he has ever visited.

Steves will discuss the fears and passions of the Iranian people and will attempt to humanize an ancient nation that has been a mideastern leader for 2,500 years.

Steves said, “After 30 years of world travel, I’ve learned that the best way to understand an unfamiliar culture is to meet its people. My impressions were striking: the intensity of the streets of Tehran, the crowds of women covered head-to-toe in chadors, and the overwhelming friendliness of the people.”

The Oct. 17 program will feature “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.” Hanna is the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium ambassador. He is the star of “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures,” televised to 96 percent of American households and 62 foreign countries. He has authored six books including his autobiography, “Monkeys On The Interstate” as well as several children’s books.

“Jungle Jack” Hanna served as Executive Director of the Columbus Zoo until 1992 when he was named Director Emeritus. Hanna will be accompanied by members of his staff and some of their favorite animals.

On Nov. 21, native Oklahoman, Dr. Bob Blackburn will discuss the topic “Sense of Community: Discovering Our Roots Through Historic Preservation.” Blackburn has been the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society since 1999. He received his M. A. and Ph.D. in History from Oklahoma State University and has written or co-authored 18 books, numerous articles, journal entries and screenplays.

Blackburn said, “I will use stories from Oklahoma history to illustrate how a sense of community is connected to the people, events, and places that define the Oklahoma experience. The stories will range from historic homes and television shows to landmarks and moments of crisis, seen through the lens of shared memory.”

Blackburn was instrumental in planning and building the Oklahoma History Center, a 215,000 sq. ft. museum and research center located near the State Capitol. Blackburn will lead guests through the evolution of historic preservation in Oklahoma with stories that helped to shape the state’s history.

On Feb. 20, John Fund, columnist for The Wall Street Journal and The National Review magazine, will discuss “A Visitor’s Guide to an Alien Planet: Washington D.C.”

Fund worked for the California State Legislature before becoming a reporter.

Fund became an editorial page writer for WSJ specializing in politics and government in 1986. In 1993, Fund received the Warren Brookes Award for journalistic excellence from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

On March 20, NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten will discuss the history of Cuba told through the life and times of the Bacardi family in his lecture “Rum and Revolution: Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba.” His book “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause” was selected by the New York Times as a Notable Nonfiction Book and the Washington Post, Kansas City Star and the San Francisco Chronicle all listed it among their Best Books.

Gjelten’s overseas security and economic reporting experiences include Mexico City, Berlin, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Columbia as well as the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. A regular panelist on PBS Washington Week, Gjelten has covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs from the State Department and from the Pentagon.

On April 17, the “Economic Outlook: The Return to Prosperity” will be the topic for Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Stephen Moore. A member of the editorial board, Moore is a commentator for CNBC and the Fox News Channel.

An author of five books, Moore served as a Senior Economist at the Joint Economic Committee and has worked on two presidential commissions as a Special Consultant to the National Economic Commission.

OKC Town Hall Lecture Series season tickets for all six lectures are $60. Season tickets may be purchased online at

Single lecture tickets are available for $20. For more ticket information call 405-826-9689 or email [email protected]

A luncheon with the speaker will immediately follow each lecture at St. Luke’s Christian Life Center. For $16, guests will have the opportunity to interact with the speaker.

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