Blanchard Forum Announces Speaker Lineup for 2007

COLUMBUS, Ga. — The second annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum on Aug. 27-28 will once again feature internationally recognized speakers who have been proven to be some of the best leaders in the world.

“Leading Change” is the theme for the Columbus Convention and Trade Center forum resulting from a partnership between Synovus and Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development.

This year’s speakers include retired Gen. John P. Abizaid, one of the chief strategists for coalition forces in the Iraq war; Dr. Mark Rutland, president of Southeastern University; former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm; and Ken Blanchard, chief spiritual officer for Ken Blanchard Companies.

Abizaid is the former commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), where he oversaw a 27-country region, from the horn of Africa to South and Central Asia, covering much of the Middle East. Abizaid also served as the deputy commander, (Forward) Combined Forces Command, U.S. Central Command during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with five Oak Leaf Clusters and the Bronze Star. He also earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutist Badge with Gold Star, Ranger Tab and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge. He will speak Monday, Aug. 27, at the kickoff dinner.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, Blanchard will speak. The Ken Blanchard Companies is an international management training and consulting firm that Blanchard and his wife, Dr. Marjorie Blanchard, founded in 1979 in San Diego, Calif. Blanchard is a visiting lecturer at his alma mater, Cornell University, where he is a trustee emeritus on the Board of Trustees. He is co-founder of the Center for Faith Walk Leadership, which is dedicated to helping leaders walk their talk in the marketplace. The National Speakers Association awarded him its highest honor, the Council of Peers Award of Excellence and he was inducted into the Human Resource Development Hall of Fame by Training magazine and Lakewood Conferences.

Gramm, now vice president of UBS Investment Bank will speak at 9:50 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28. Gramm joined UBS Investment Bank as vice chairman in December of 2002 after serving 24 years in Congress, including the last 18 years as a senator from Texas. His role as UBS is focused on working with major corporate and institutional clients. As chairman of the Banking Committee, Senator Gramm steered legislation that helped modernize the banking, insurance and security laws. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealed the 70-year old Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited banks, securities firms and insurance companies from affiliating.

Following Gramm at 10:40 a.m. will be Rutland, palso resident of Global Servants. Rutland’s 30-minute daily radio program, Herald of Joy, is heard in multiple markets. Rutland is author of 11 books, including Launch Out into the Deep, The Finger of God, Hanging by A Thread, Behind the Glittering Masks, Streams of Mercy, God the Valleys, Dream, Character Matters, Power and his latest book, Resurrection. After hearing Rutland speak at a conference earlier this year, Jim Blanchard was so impressed that he invited him to speak at this year’s forum.

Closing out the sessions will be forum founder Blanchard, retired chairman of the board and CEO of Synovus. Blanchard began his service with Synovus in 1970 when he was selected to be the top executive at Columbus Bank and Trust Company. He served as CEO of Synovus from 1971 until being named chairman of the board in July 2005. Blanchard also played an instrumental role in establishing Total System Services, Inc. (TSYS) in 1983. He retired from Synovus in October 2006.

“My focus is simple –- to give people an opportunity to meet and learn from the best leaders in the world,” Blanchard said.

Cost for the forum is $249 per person and includes three meals. A guest of a registered attendee can be brought to the dinner on Monday evening for an additional $60. For more information or to register go to or call 706-568-5101.