Ira Lechner '55 and President Robert R. Lindgren
Randolph-Macon College held its annual International Studies Program dinner on Tuesday,
March 30, 2010. A reception took place in the Worsham Room and dinner followed in
the Trustees Room. Ira Lechner ’55 was this year’s guest speaker.
Lechner currently serves as chairman for Council for a Livable World, replacing
Senator Gary Hart, who remains on the Council’s Board of Directors. He presented
“Nuclear Proliferation: The Challenges Ahead in a Dangerous World.”
here for a slideshow of photos from the event.
Lechner stressed that the opportunity now exists to reduce substantially the amount
of nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Russian arsenals. Both nations are working to
forge an agreement to decrease nuclear weapon stockpiles by 30 to 50 percent. Such
a pact would send a powerful message to the world, especially nations seeking nuclear
warheads, that the U.S. and Russia are serious about creating a safer, more stable
world order. Lechner noted that to ratify this treaty will require 67 votes in the
U.S. Senate, which may be difficult to achieve. He urged his audience of students,
faculty and alumni to contact their senators to encourage their support of the new
Lechner is a lawyer in San Diego, California who has long been involved in nuclear
non-proliferation issues and politics. He has traveled extensively on study tours
and for international seminars. He is chair of the Board of Directors of his family
foundation, Project High Hopes, which has initiated sustainable development projects
in South Africa. Lechner intends to travel widely to meet with Council supporters
and build support for the 67 votes needed for ratification of our nuclear treaties.
He has been a member of the Council's board of directors since 2008.
Lechner has been involved in Democratic politics since 1960. He practiced labor
law for over 40 years in Washington, D.C., representing federal employees and local
labor unions. He now lives in San Diego but remains involved in Democratic political
campaigns and continues to practice law in Washington. He was the original organizer
of the Obama for President campaign in San Diego and later served as a fundraiser.
In his early career, Lechner served as an enlisted man in the United States Army
at Fort Dix, and later as an officer in the Defense Appellate Division of the United
States Army (JAG) at the Pentagon.
Lechner was elected to the Virginia State Legislature from Arlington/Alexandria,
1973-77. Thereafter, he was a Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia,
and was the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Tenth Congressional District
of Virginia in 1982 vs. Republican incumbent Frank Wolf.
Formerly, Lechner served as counsel to the Employment and Productivity Subcommittee
of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources as a member of
the staff of former United States Senator Paul Simon. Lechner previously served
as counsel to the National Association of Police Officers (NAPO); as associate general
counsel, UFCW & Retail Clerks, AFL-CIO; and litigated in the Federal courts
as an attorney in the Appellate Division of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Lechner was elected in a national referendum of America’s colleges and universities
to the National Board of the Council On Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). He
served as its treasurer as well as on its executive committee. He served as vice-chair
of the Board of Trustees of Randolph-Macon College, chair of its Development Committee,
and chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. In 1988 he established the Ira M. Lechner
Public Service Scholarship, which provides a full-tuition scholarship for students
interested in pursuing careers in public service following graduation. Lechner earned
a B.A. in history from Randolph-Macon College and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
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