Mary Jane Neville Odell


"Mary Jane Odell’s... brilliant career in the communication field [has] made her a substantial asset to the State of Iowa.” — Mary A. Grefe, 1994

Mary Jane Odell, a nationally recognized broadcaster, gained fame throughout Iowa for her weekend public affairs program, IPBN Presents Mary Jane Odell. After hosting several radio and television programs in Des Moines during the 1950s and 1960s, Odell moved to Chicago, where she continued her broadcasting career, receiving an Emmy in 1972 for "outstanding individual achievement." In 1975, the year Odell returned to Des Moines, she received a second Emmy for a Chicago interview with Leon Jaworski. She also received a National Broadcaster's Award for work on IPBN's "Assignment Iowa." Odell founded the Iowa chapter of the American Women in Radio and TV and served on the board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She was born in Algona, Iowa in 1923. Odell was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1979.

UPDATE: Odell was appointed Secretary of State in 1980, and was then elected in 1982, serving six years. In 1988, she received the H.R. Gross Award for Lifetime Contributions to Broadcasting and Public Service. She has served on the board of the Iowa Peace Institute and is currently a board member of the Easter Seal Foundation.