Photo: Senator J.D. Ford accepts award from Phillip Goodchild, IFCL Recording Clerk
For some years now, after each session of the Indiana General Assembly, IFCL has recognized two legislators of the year. In keeping with our non-partisan approach to our work, we generally recognize a legislator from each major party, as a reminder to the world and to ourselves that no single party has a monopoly on truth or virtue.
We are delighted to recognize, as our Democratic recipient of this award for the session just past, Senator J. D. Ford.
A first-generation college graduate, Senator Ford earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Criminal Justice from The University of Akron, and a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis on Human Services from Purdue University. He has spent much of his career in higher education, and has held numerous executive-level positions for non-profits located in Central Indiana. Following the example of public service set by his grandfather, a city councilman, and his grandmother, who served as city auditor, he was first elected to the Indiana State Senate in 2018 (at 36!), representing parts of Marion, Hamilton and Boone counties in the 29th District.
IFCL’s criteria for selection, while they may see subjective to some, are grounded in our Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. Since the mission of IFCL is to relate these Quaker testimonies to help shape responsible decisions by our state government, we believe it is fitting to acknowledge legislators whose work exemplifies these testimonies.
To us, Senator Ford is a Quaker’s vision of what public service by an elected representative of the people should look like. Both in what he does, and the way he does it.
Senator Ford serves on the following committees, as either ranking minority member or vice chair:
Education and Career Development (RMM)
Ethics (Vice Chair)
Family and Children Services (RMM)
Homeland Security and Transportation (RMM)
Veterans Affairs and The Military (RMM)
His legislative priorities are reflected in his committee assignments. They are a tip-off to his focus at the Statehouse contributing to the quality of life for all Hoosiers.
It is J.D.’s approach to his work at the Statehouse, as much as his policy positions and legislative priorities, that so resonates with Quakers. Quakers have always worked for conciliation. We’re all painfully aware of what divides us right now—politically, economically, even religiously, socially and culturally. J.D. constantly strives toward what unites us, reaching for common ground on difficult issues where there often seems to be only scorched earth separating partisans. He looks to represent the “missing middle” at the Statehouse, remembering that most Hoosiers are not radically pro-gun or anti-gun; not radically pro-choice or pro-life; not radically pro-public education or pro-school vouchers; not radically pro-environment or pro-business.
He does this by actually listening to those with opposing viewpoints. He does this by addressing others with civility. By resisting the temptation to see every contested issue as a zero-sum game. By remembering that good government requires working with the entire community, not just with those we choose. By seeking the common good, especially for those least able to speak or fend or provide for themselves.
We at IFCL feel privileged to work with Senator Ford on issues of utmost importance to the future of our state, in ways that lift us up. We are very pleased to recognize his service to all Hoosiers with this award, and look forward to working with him for years to come.