Listee Features — Politics

MARY VAIL

Coming from a family of attorneys, Mary Vail developed an interest in politics and public service at a young age. She didn’t want to pursue law for personal gain, however; she wanted to use it toward charitable or governmental service to help her community. To make her goals a reality, Ms. Vail obtained a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1971 and a JD from the University of the Pacific in 1974. That year, she also became admitted to practice in the state of California. With the conclusion of Ms. Vail’s academic journey came the start of her professional one. She joined Volunteers in Service to American Attorneys and the San Francisco

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MARGARET JEAN MCKEE

Devoted to the future of the country, Margaret Jean McKee spent nearly five decades in the political arena. Her first real taste of the field came while she was in college, when her uncle volunteered her to work for Prescott Bush’s Senate campaign in Connecticut. The feeling of sitting in his headquarters with her fellow staffers was phenomenal; she felt like she was really making a difference, and knew it was what she was meant to be doing. Upon graduating Vassar College with a Bachelor of Arts in 1951, Ms. McKee immediately joined the United Republican Finance Committee as a staff assistant. She stayed there for a year before becoming a staff assistant at the New York Republican State Committee.

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SYLVIA S. KERCKHOFF

Dedicated and hardworking, Sylvia S. Kerckhoff was thrilled to make history as the first female mayor of Durham, N.C. The post wasn’t initially part of her life plan, but it ended up being the highlight of a long and fruitful career. She was previously high school teacher, through which she garnered experience obtaining and presenting facts and getting her way, and a member of the city council for 12 years, through which she garnered experience figuring out what was asked for and what was needed. She was also a long-time board member and vice president of the League of Women Voters of Orange-Durham-Chatham and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, to whom she attributes her political success. The

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LESLEY L. ISRAEL

A retired political consultant, Lesley L. Israel remains a well-respected figure known for decades of professional excellence. She notably served in a variety of positions during several presidential campaigns. She was the director of media for Humphrey for President from 1966 to 1967, director of scheduling for Bayh for President in 1971, special assistant for Jackson for President from 1975 to 1976, and coordinator of national labor for Kenney for President from 1979 to 1980. Ms. Israel then rose to the role of senior vice president for the Kamber Group in Washington, where she stayed for six years. She proceeded to use her background to form Politics, Inc., and remained as president and CEO until she retired in 1995. The

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DENISE KAY DEGARMO

Professor Denise K. Degarmo has had a long and distinguished career as a political scientist and educator. Her expertise lies in international security with a focus on the nuclear era and security in the Middle East, and she remains committed to advancing the field. She is currently excelling a full professor in the Department of Political Science at Southern Illinois University, where she was promoted in 2016. Dr. Degarmo’s responsibilities include managing teaching, research, and publications, conducting lectures and seminars, performing advanced research on international relations, and providing community service. In addition to that role, she has also served as a research associate at the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem since 2011, which includes acting as the principal investigator on

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