Co-Anchor of CNN's "American Morning" show named fall 2005 Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics at Iowa State

AMES, Iowa -- Soledad O'Brien, co-anchor of CNN's "American Morning" show, has covered such defining moments as the space shuttle Columbia disaster and the school shootings in Colorado and Oregon. This fall, she will add the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics to her resume.

O'Brien will discuss "Women and Leadership: Mentoring the Next Generation" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, in the Great Hall, Memorial Union. A public reception will follow the lecture. The event is free and open to the public.

"Ms. O'Brien has established herself not only as one of the top news anchors in the country, but also as a voice for diversity in the industry," Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, said. "She also is a strong advocate of mentoring as a way to keep young people motivated and hopeful. A product of mentoring herself, Ms. O'Brien will discuss how mentoring allowed her to find her way in the world and learn the values of determination and hard work as a means to a greater end."

O'Brien joined CNN in 2003. Prior to that, she anchored NBC's "Weekend Today" show from 1999 to 2003. She also contributed reports to that network's "Today Show" and weekend editions of the "NBC Nightly News." She also anchored MSNBC's award-winning technology program "The Site" and that network's weekend morning show.

She won a local Emmy for her work as a co-host of Discovery Channel's "The Know Zone." In 1998, she was named to Irish American Magazine's "Top 100 Irish Americans" and in 1997 she was awarded the Hispanic Achievement Award in Communications by Hispanic Magazine. She was recognized this month by CATALINA magazine as its "2005 Groundbreaking Latina." O'Brien's photo also graces the debut issue of the new Meredith magazine "Siempre Mujer," which launched in September.

O'Brien is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She is a graduate of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Her lecture is part of the Advancing Women's Leadership speaker series, sponsored by the Women's Leadership Consortium, Office of the Provost, University Committee on Women and Catt Center. The 2005-06 series consists of presentations by nationally prominent women leaders as well as the second annual Women's Leadership Summit on April 28, 2006.

O'Brien is the 13th prominent woman leader to visit Iowa State as the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics. The chair was created in 1995 to honor Smith, an Iowa native and longtime political and civic leader. It brings nationally renowned political leaders, scholars and activists to Iowa State. Smith was the only woman to chair the Republican National Party (1974-1977).