During the 2008 presidential election, Oasis member Annette Guisbond, MS, had an idea that has evolved into one of the most popular offerings at the Oasis Center in Syracuse, NY.

Annette Guisbond“Annette has a keen interest in helping Oasis develop relevant programs for our community of learners,” says Lauren Feiglin, Executive Director of the Oasis center in Syracuse, NY. “She asked if I had time to talk, we met and the rest is history.”

A board member on the League of Women Voters, Annette initially intended to help organize a one-time event that would help Oasis members become informed voters.

“Information is something you need to make good decisions,” she says. “And we discovered that there are a lot of people who really want this kind of discussion. Now it’s an annual series that holds about 150 people and there’s a waiting list.”

The “State of the Union” series covers a variety of timely, informative topics, featuring lectures presented by local experts from the media, politics and scholars from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Le Moyne College. Sometimes the programs are presented in panel format, and there is always time built in for questions and discussions.

“Questions are a very important part of the program. Our audience members are educated and intelligent. Sometimes people challenge one another, and the speakers, but it’s always very respectful,” Annette adds.

“Somebody asked me if I was running out of issues. The answer is no. There will always be issues concerning the US that people want to learn more about and discuss. I look at this as an education for myself, too!”

Annette is a longtime supporter of Oasis.

“As a retired teacher, I do believe that education is very important in the development of a young person and is the engine that drives their adult lives. The lifelong learners that come to Oasis also seem to have a strong value for education; and a democracy, in order to survive, needs educated or informed citizens. Oasis  plays a very important role in furthering those goals.”

Annette Guisbond is featured in the 2014 Oasis Annual Report.