Ross closes out Leadership conference

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2019

More than 400 community and student leaders attended the 2019 Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History at Troy University Friday and Saturday.

The conference is hosted annually by Troy University and the City of Troy and features keynote addresses and work sessions conducted by noted leaders.

Shelia Jackson, Conference chair and Public Relations and Tourism director for the City of Troy, said the 18th Annual Leadership Conference keynote speakers, the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Dr. Quinton Ross, president of Alabama State University, are outstanding motivators.

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Warnock was the keynote speaker for the opening session of the conference on Friday night at the Trojan Center Ballrooms.

“Dr. Warnock charged us to work together, to strive together, to pray together, to sing together and stand together,” Jackson said. “He said it will take all of us working together on an equal level to achieve the greatness that is possible.”

Ross was the keynote speaker for the closing session at noon on Saturday and said all leaders, born or made, must feel strong emotions and strong commitments.

He gave a two-minute snapshot of his life that included being only one of seven African American Alabama State Senators, SGA president at Alabama State University and the 15th president of ASU.

“I could not do that,” Ross said. “Only God can do that. We cannot separate God from State. Without God, there is no state.”

Ross laughingly said he has reached two milestones in his life. He has turned age 50 and he has survived Disney World three times.

While sitting on a bench at Disney World, Ross said he thought about how two men, worlds apart, shared a common but perhaps, unknowing, purpose.

“Walt Disney was born in 1901; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929,” Ross said. “At Disney World, I sat, looking around at all those people, people from different countries, of different nationalities, from different walks of life. All of them had come together for a common purpose. Dr. King also brought people together from all walks of life for a common purpose, for a common cause. Two men, worlds apart brought people together.”

Ross said where there is a common purpose, where there is trust among people, walls can come down; worlds, once apart, can become as one.

And, great leadership defines that common purpose and that common cause, that bring people together.

“Great leadership starts with trust,” Ross said. “Leadership is, one person at a time, doing the right thing,” he said. “We must be servant leaders and go both ways and partner in accomplishing goals.”

Ross challenged the attendees at the 18th Annual Leadership Conference to go into their communities and be leaders. He quoted noted speaker John Maxwell.

“‘The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails,’” he said. “Be a servant leader; adjust the sails.”

Jackson said she knows of no others who could have better inspired and motivated the attendees at the 2019 Leadership Conference to step out of their comfort zones and venture into new areas of leadership than Warnock and Ross.

“We thank everyone who participated in the conference,” she said. “We came together in a common purpose. We are better because we were there.”