27th Annual Barbara Jordan National Forum

Event Status

Students at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin will pay tribute to the life and legacy of former congresswoman, distinguished public servant and teacher Barbara Jordan during the 27th annual Barbara Jordan National Forum (BJNF) throughout the month of February.

The theme of the 2023 celebration, "The Beauty of Perspective: Advancing Amid the Discomfort of Change," comes from this quote from Jordan's 1976 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention:

"We are a [nation] of innovation. We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances when change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future."

Barbara Jordan taught at the LBJ School of Public Affairs from 1979 to 1996 as the Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair of Public Policy. It was the final chapter of her long career as a public servant, civil rights leader, educator and policymaker who worked tirelessly for social justice and integrity in public service. Her contributions to history and to the education of future change-makers act as a lodestar to the School and its mission, and each year the Barbara Jordan National Forum honors her memory.

The Forum, which is student led and organized, includes a series of lectures and events, an awards ceremony and a day of volunteerism. 

Barbara Jordan National Forum Student Leaders 

The month-long forum is organized by LBJ School students elected by their peers to represent the ethical public service leadership and commitment to community that define Barbara Jordan's legacy.

Meet the 2023 Barbara Jordan National Forum student leaders:

Morgan Brown Headshot

Morgan Brown, MPAff/MPH Dual Degree '24

Focus Areas: Social Policy, Health Policy

“As a co-chair, I hope to use the forum as a means to educate students and community members alike on Barbara Jordan's legacy and empower them to work towards a better tomorrow.” 


Jordan Nellums Headshot

Jordan Nellums, MPAff '24

Focus Area: Education Policy 

"My goal is to ensure that the BJNF can serve as an opportunity for students and the community to reflect on the legacy of Barbara Jordan while using her vision and ambition to have intellectual conversations regarding today's policy challenges." 


Jennifer Perales Headshot

Jennifer Perales, MPAff '23

Focus Areas: Voting Rights Policy and Media 

“Having the great privilege and opportunity to be a co-chair of the Barbara Jordan National Forum, has given me a way to underscore the important role Barbara Jordan played in civic engagement," she said. "My goal as a chair is to help showcase the work Barbara Jordan did and accomplish during her time in and out of office. There is an urgency to the work she has done throughout life that still persist and should not be forgotten."

26th Annual Barbara Jordan National Forum — Schedule of Events

26th Annual Barbara Jordan National Forum Keynote: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Tuesday, Feb. 21 | 12:15 pm CT | LBJ Presidential Library | RSVP Required 


Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson served 15 terms in the U.S. Congress representing the 30th Congressional District of Texas. Congresswoman Johnson has a reputation as a stateswoman who works with both parties to get things done – one earned during her more than 40 years in public office. She is recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress, credited with authoring and co-authoring more than 300 bills passed by the House and Senate and signed into law. 

She is the first African American and female to chair the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and was the Dean of the Texas Congressional Delegation. She was also Dean of the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona Democratic Congressional Delegation, the highest-ranking Texan on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and was the first Registered Nurse elected to the U.S. Congress. 

She began her career as the first female African American Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the V.A. Hospital in Dallas. In 1972, she became the first Registered Nurse elected to the Texas State House and achieved the same distinction upon her election to the Texas Senate in 1986. From 2011 to 2018, she served as the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s first African American and female Ranking Member. 

She was also the founder of the Congressional Diversity & Innovation Caucus, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Homelessness Caucus, co-chair of the Congressional Lupus Caucus, and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Bosnia. 

She was honored to serve as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the 107th Congress. Her acclaimed initiative, A World of Women for World Peace, has gained national and international recognition. Congresswoman Johnson is the proud mother of her son, Kirk, who is married to Sondra Johnson, and has three grandchildren, Kirk Jr., David and James.  

The Barbara Jordan Public Service Award honors a trailblazer and leader who represents Barbara Jordan’s voice, legacy and unwavering commitment to building community through activism and public service. Award recipients have a proven track record of advancing civic virtue and social justice and seek to improve the quality of democracy, governance and civic engagement across the world. Like Barbara Jordan, recipients of this award lead with courage and integrity. 

The award is given in February during the Annual Barbara Jordan National Forum, a student led series of events to honor the congresswoman and teacher’s legacy. The recipient of the Barbara Jordan Public Service Award is selected by student leaders of the Forum. 


Norma Cantu and Stella Flores Luncheon Graphic

Private Student Event: Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation Luncheon with Norma Cantú and Dr. Stella Flores

Monday, Feb 20 | 12:15pm CT | SRH 3.122 | RSVP Now

Join the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation for a special luncheon with former Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Norma Cantú, in conversation with Dr. Stella Flores. Prior to her service as the nation's chief civil rights enforcer in the educational arena during the Clinton Administration, Norma Cantú worked for fourteen years as regional counsel and education director of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Norma Cantú now serves as a Professor of Law and Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Cantú headlines the Barbara Jordon Freedom Foundation Luncheon to speak to about the life of former Congresswoman and UT Professor Barbara Jordan, and how her legacy impacts our pursuit of social justice and civil rights today.


The Barbara Jordan National Forum is a program of the LBJ School’s Office for Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. If you need an accommodation to engage in the Forum, please email estevan.delgado@austin.utexas.edu.

Date and Time
Feb. 1 to 21, 2023, noon to 6 p.m.
LBJ School of Public Affairs