The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Ben Barnes Gives 2009 Commencement Address

Wed, May 27, 2009

Ben Barnes was the speaker for the Department of Government's 2009 Commencement ceremony held on May 22 in Gregory Gymnasium. Download a copy of Ben Barnes' commencement speech (PDF).

A protégé of President Lyndon Johnson, Ben Barnes won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives at the age of 22. By 1962, he was a top lieutenant and close ally of Texas Governor John Connally. Three years later, Barnes was elected Texas Speaker of the House. At 26, he was the youngest Speaker of the House in state history. In 1968, Barnes was elected lieutenant governor, again the youngest ever, garnering the most votes of any statewide candidate in Texas history.

Using the same energy that drove his political career, Barnes built a multi-million dollar real estate empire through the seventies and eighties. Barnes now focuses on public policy advocacy and invests in new companies. Since the early 1990s, Barnes has been an active player in Democratic politics, referred to by the Texas Monthly as “one of the chief financial and strategic architects of the Democratic resurgence in the Senate.” In 1995, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of University of Texas, Austin, an honor bestowed on such luminaries as Lady Bird Johnson and Walter Cronkite.

Ben Barnes has built a successful public policy career after over five decades of service in government, politics and private sector business development. With offices in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, the Ben Barnes Group represents a number of Fortune 500 companies and trade associations that advocate for both public and private interests. The Ben Barnes Group provides a range of consulting services including strategic planning and advocacy around state and federal legislation, regulatory matters and other public policy issues.

Today, Barnes contributes his time and money to numerous charitable organizations in addition to running a successful business. He also sits on a number of corporate boards and supports several philanthropic organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of America. He and his wife Melanie live happily in Austin, Texas with their two daughters. They are devoted to spending quality time with their family and are very involved with the community.

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