Lane Ralph, a long-time aide to Sen. Richard G. Lugar, was named the 2007 Mayor William Graham Rural Champion Award recipient for his tireless efforts to strengthen rural communities in Indiana.
Ralph is a resident of Greencastle.
The Indiana Rural Development council presented the award during the Indiana Rural Development Conference in Anderson.
Ralph is a long-time board member of the IRDC, serving on behalf of Sen. Lugar.
"Lane sees Indiana, especially rural Indiana, as abounding in opportunities," said IRDC vice president Mike Schultz during the presentation. "From agriculture to energy, transportation to infrastructure, Lane works hard to connect community leaders to resources and make a difference in the lives in Indiana's citizens and the places they call home."
He now serves as deputy state director of Sen. Lugar's Indiana staff with a number of varied responsibilities involving federal grant assistance, local government programs, transportation and environmental concerns.
"I am humbled by the recognition and have always been appreciative of the opportunity to work with Hoosiers and the IRDC in all portions of rural Indiana," said Ralph about the award. "The IRDS continues to serve as an important voice for rural Hoosiers wanting to advance their progress in a global economy. I am particularly pleased to receive an award named after the IRDC's longtime leader William Graham, Mayor of Scottsburg, Indiana."
Born and raised in Gary, Ralph attended Indiana State University where he earned his bachelor of science degree in political science, followed by his master of public administration degree. During college, Ralph was twice elected vice president of the Student Government Association and served as a representative to the university board of trustees. He was instrumental in getting the Indiana General Assembly to establish the two-year term student trustees position for all of Indiana's state universities.
From 1975-78, Ralph worked for Indiana Vocational Technical College before joining the staff of Sen. Lugar. In his role as special projects assistant, he was responsible for environmental and energy issues, coordination with state and local government officials, sewer and water system programs, soil and water conservation programs, grants, loans and transportation issues. Ralph served as assistant state director for both of Indiana's U.S. senators from 1981-87. Along with Sen. Lugar, this included Dan Quayle from 1981-88, and Dan Coats when he became U.S. senator for Indiana in 1989-98.
"For nearly 30 year, he has traveled throughout Indiana visiting communities, large and small," added Phillip Anderson, IRDC executive director. "Lane understands the unique challenges facing communities and is always seeking innovative ways to help rural Indiana prosper. He is a true rural champion."