Ninth leadership conference ‘best ever’

Published 10:18 pm Monday, February 8, 2010

Four hundred people from all across the state registered for the 9th Annual Leadership Conference on the campus of Troy University Feb. 5 and 6.

The conference included nationally acclaimed speakers, plenary sessions, awards and recognitions, networking opportunities and the fellowship of those with a common interest.

The 2010 Leadership Conference was, in the words of event chair Catherine Jordan,” the best ever.”

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Jordan made the evaluation at the close of the 9th annual Leadership Conference and those around her were quick to agree.

“This conference has been especially outstanding because of the quality of the presenters and their willingness to be accessible to the participants,” Jordan said. “The presenters stayed around and mingled with the participants.

“That made a difference because everyone felt such a part of the conference, not on the outside.”

A highlight of conference was the recognition of those who have provided outstanding leadership and direction to their professions and to their communities over the past year.

Recipients of the special leadership awards were Major Huey Thornton of the Montgomery Police Department, who is responsible for public and media relations for the MPD; Ethel Smith, director of the White House group home for girls in Headland; George Gilchrist, Jr., pastor of First Baptist Church of Troy, who established a food bank for the Troy community and for church members; and Judge Michael J. Bellamy, a district court family court judge for the 26th Judicial Circuit in Russell County.

Student Leader Awards recipients were William Allen III, Troy University main campus; Derek Fortson, Phenix City campus; Keith Winn, Montgomery campus; and LaTyron McCall, Dothan campus.

The Ninth Annual Leadership Conference concluded at noon on Saturday with Tim Reid, Emmy-nominated actor and director, as the keynote speaker. Reid is, perhaps, best known for his role as Venus Flytrap in the popular television sitcom, “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Reid told the conference participants that, as a teenager, he was a hoodlum. But he turned his life around because of the influence of a noble grandmother and his association with Dr. Martin Luther King.

He challenged the audience participants to be involved in their communities and to do the best they can at whatever it is they choose to do in life.

“Those who have a stake in society will protect it,” he said.

“Those who do not will want to destroy it.”

Reid said his confidence in the future of America was reinforced when he visited troops around the world and saw young men and women doing jobs that others couldn’t even begin to imagine.

He challenged the participants to provide guidance for young people and to support their communities on the strength of their character.

“The world will survive or fail on the basis of character,” he said.

The theme of the 2010 Leadership Conference was “Leadership and Economic Empowerment.”

The conference provided information through the presenters and plenary sessions designed to enhance the quality of leadership for participants.

Four hundred people registered for the conference that opened Friday night with Lyn Vaughn, a former CNN anchor, as the keynote speaker.

The conference continued on Saturday with general plenary sessions on community empowerment, personal and organizational economic leadership and jobs in the recession.

A special session featured Kandi Burruss, a Grammy award-winning R&B singer/songwriter.