Former First Lady Headlines Next Blanchard Leadership Forum

Blanchard 2010 speakersCOLUMBUS, Ga. - Former First Lady Laura Bush leads a speaker lineup of national and regional figures for the fifth annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum Aug. 30-31 in Columbus.

Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development will co-host the forum at the Columbus, Georgia Iron Works Convention and Trade Center, 801 Front Ave. Registration ($349 per person by Aug. 15 or $379) is available online at Special rates are available for table reservations.

The forum, which includes presentations for the Blanchard Award for Outstanding Stewardship and Ethics in Business, is themed “Adaptive Leadership for a Changing World.”
Speakers joining Bush are AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, former president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games William Payne, author Malcolm Gladwell, Columbus Bank and Trust President Billy Blanchard and U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. William E. Rapp.

"I'm excited to be part of this forum at Columbus State University,” Bush said in a recent conference call to the Cunningham Center.

During the call, Bush said she will focus on the years she and former President George W. Bush lived in the White House. She also plans to discuss how she and her family are faring away from the nation’s capital and offer an update on the general health and well-being of her father-in-law, former President George H.W. Bush, and her mother-in-law, former first lady Barbara Bush.

Following a teaching and library career, Bush has been active related to various national and world issues, especially education, health care and human rights. For example, she has advocated for teacher recruitment programs such as Teach for America, The New Teacher Project and Troops to Teachers, and she has participated in campaigns to raise awareness of breast cancer and heart disease.

Bush is scheduled to speak 8 p.m. Monday, following the Blanchard award presentations supported by the award’s lead sponsor, the Georgia  Lottery Corp., plus co-sponsors Georgia Trend and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. The presentations recognize outstanding stewardship and ethics and include the Georgia Blanchard Award, given to a Georgia business professional, and a $25,000 Ethics in Business Scholarship, given to a business professional who also is pursuing a graduate degree in Georgia.

Full-conference attendees may bring a dinner guest on Monday, the forum’s opening evening, for an additional $149 if seating is available. Collectively, about 1,000 attendees are anticipated, compared to an inaugural, invitation-only gathering of a couple hundred in 2006.

“The forum has become a major regional event and has put Columbus at the cutting edge of sharing ideas and developing leaders at all levels,” said Carmen Cavezza. executive director of the Cunningham Center. “We’ve increasingly drawn top leaders throughout our region — many of whom have provided continuity between forums by meeting regularly and discussing topics of importance to our region.”

The event’s progress reflects founder Jim Blanchard’s vision for the forum — “to bring the best and brightest minds to Columbus,” said Ed Helton, director of the Cunningham Center’s Leadership Institute. “This charge has allowed us to bring speakers with a variety of experiences ans skill sets. This year, we will hear from a leader who has been witness to leadership at the highest level in the world, Laura Bush. We have a business leader of a Fortune 500 company, one who prepares our military leaders, a leader whose influence brought the world to Georgia in 1996 with the Olympic Games, a young business leader who is a product of his hometown, and a world-class author.”

Those leaders, following the former first lady, are showcased in the forum’s second day. Billy Blanchard opens the presentations at 8 a.m., followed by William Payne (8:30 a.m.), William Rapp (9:40 a.m.), Randall Stephenson (10:20 a.m.) and Malcolm Gladwell (1:15 p.m.), who closes the event.

Blanchard, son of the forum’s founder and namesake, joined CB&T in 1995 as a management associate. He advanced through Synovus-affiliated positions, including credit analyst, business development officer, commercial lender and executive vice president for retail banking activities before becoming CB&T president in 2009.

Payne served Atlanta’s Olympic committee from 1991-1997. Currently chairman for Centennial Investment Properties in Atlanta, he has earned numerous service awards on state, national and international levels from the likes of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Atlanta Urban League and International Olympic Committee.

Rapp has served in leadership roles for the Army Corps of Engineers since graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1984. He recently assumed command of the U.S. Corps of Cadets after commanding the Northwestern Division of the Corps of Engineers in Portland. Previously, from 2005-2007, he commanded combat engineers supporting airborne operations in Iraq. His awards and medals have included the Defense Superior Service Medal and Legion of Merit.

Under Stephenson’s leadership, AT&T has become an industry leader in wireless smartphones, wireless data, global business solutions, broadband, voice and local search advertising. AT&T also is gaining momentum in video entertainment.

Gladwell, a writer for New Yorker magazine and among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2005, is noted for making new ideas in the social sciences understandable, practical and valuable to both business and general audiences. His latest book, Outliers: The Story of Success, follows his New York Times No. 1 bestsellers, The Tipping Point and Blink.

Gladwell’s talk will follow lunch and remarks from Jim Blanchard, retired chairman of the board and CEO of Synovus. 

For more information, go to the website or call 706-568-5101.