OWU announces commencement speaker


Kelly McFarland Stratman, chief of staff and interim co-CEO for the Washington, D.C.-based League of Women Voters of the United States, will provide the keynote address May 11 at Ohio Wesleyan University’s 180th commencement ceremony.

McFarland Stratman has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience, with a focus on fostering innovation and transformative change.

During her 21-year tenure in the League of Women Voters (LWVUS) national office, McFarland Stratman has held multiple leadership positions, most recently working to foster organization-wide culture change for the nonpartisan, grassroots nonprofit through governance, strategic planning, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

President Matt vandenBerg, Ed.D., who invited McFarland Stratman, said she is the perfect speaker to inspire Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2024.

“Our nation will experience an immensely consequential election this fall, and we see tremendous value in providing this year’s graduates with access to a visible thought leader on citizenship and voting rights matters,” vandenBerg said. “Kelly is the leader of an iconic American institution that helped to establish the United Nations and that operates on its timeless 1920 charge to safeguard the voting rights of every individual. Kelly is an accomplished leader, and the OWU community eagerly anticipates the advice and inspiration she will offer to our graduates.”

McFarland Stratman also has worked in the League’s membership/field support area, building capacity among the organization’s 750 volunteer-led leagues, and has managed major LWV initiatives including the Membership and Leadership Development program, the Citizen Initiative for Transparency, and Local Voices: Citizen Conversations on Civil Liberties and Secure Communities.

Before joining the League’s national office, McFarland Stratman served as executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, where she managed the state office, coordinated lobbying activities, and managed grant-funded citizen education and advocacy efforts, including leading a redistricting coalition and ballot initiative.

McFarland Stratman is a certified association executive (CAE) through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and is a member of the association’s CAE provider committee, a governing body working on professional development credentialing. She also sits on the board of AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service), a leader in intercultural learning that offers international exchange programs in more than 40 countries.

Prior to joining the League, McFarland Stratman lived and worked for four years in Japan, where she leveraged her academic background in international relations while working in a regional Board of Education.

In addition to McFarland Stratman, vandenBerg and student Ben Warden of Marysville, Ohio, also will speak to the graduating class.

Warden, a psychology major, was selected to represent the Class of 2024 by a vote of his classmates. He also spoke at his high school graduation and hopes to provide the OWU audience with remarks that not only “make them laugh and smile, but also give insight on the accomplishments of this decorated graduating class and the amazing plans they have for the future.”

Ohio Wesleyan’s 2024 commencement ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. May 11. Weather permitting, the event will be held outdoors on the lawn in front of Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. The ceremony will be streamed live and archived online at www.owu.edu/stream. Learn more at www.owu.edu/commencement.

Submitted by Ohio Wesleyan University.

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