Condoleezza Rice Headlines Aug. 29-30 Blanchard Leadership Forum in Columbus

Condoleeza RiceCOLUMBUS, Ga. – Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headlines the sixth annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, hosted by Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development, on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 29-30, at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

Rice will speak at 8 p.m., following introductory remarks from Gov. Nathan Deal.

The forum will open at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 29 with remarks from Columbus State President Tim Mescon and Carmen Cavezza, executive director of the Cunningham Center. Dinner and a performance by Alexander Kobrin, an internationally respected pianist from Columbus State’s Schwob School of Music, also will precede Rice’s speech.

“For five years, this forum has been successful in fulfilling the vision of ‘bringing the best minds in the world to Columbus, Georgia,’” said founder and namesake James Blanchard, retired chairman and CEO of Synovus Financial Corp. “It has been a great partnership between Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development, Synovus and TSYS.”


Rice is currently a professor of political economy in the Graduate School of Business; the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson senior fellow on public policy at the Hoover Institution; and a professor of political science at Stanford University. From 2005-2009, she served as the 66th U.S. secretary of state.

Second-day speakers for the forum, themed “Innovative Leadership,” are, in order of appearance:

  • Gardiner W. Garrard III, founder of Total Technology Ventures in Atlanta
  • U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.
  • Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets
  • Sir Ken Robinson, a best-selling author and internationally recognized leader in the development of  creativity and innovation
  • Maj. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commander of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning.
  • Patrick Lencioni, business author and president of the Table Group, Inc

“The 2011 slate of speakers is outstanding,” said Blanchard, who also will address the gathering at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday. “The 2012 slate will continue our mission to ‘raise the bar’ every year.”

Tuesday’s presentations will run from 8 a.m. to about 3 p.m. and be accompanied by speaker book signings, lunch and a performance by the Army Jazz Band Combo.

“Organizations from all over the region have used the forum as a catalyst to begin a leadership program and as an added value to their existing leadership development initiatives,” Blanchard said. “I am particularly proud that a forum of this caliber is offered right here in Columbus.”

Presenting sponsors for the 2011 forum are Synovus, TSYS, and AT&T.  Other sponsors include American Airlines-Columbus Airport and Georgia Trend magazine.

Full conference registration costs $429 per person, or tables of eight may be purchased for $3,200.

To register or for more information, call 706-568-5101 or go to