Powell, Petraeus to Headline Blanchard Leadership Forum

COLUMBUS, Ga - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Gen. David H. Petraeus, who oversees U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, are among six world-class speakers headlining the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 31-Sept. 1 in the Columbus Convention and Trade Center, 801 Front Ave.

Online registration is open at http://www.blanchardleadershipforum.com for this fourth, annual event themed “Leadership in Uncertain Times” and designed for participants to network with business and community leaders from around the Southeast in addition to hearing from internationally respected leaders.

Speakers at 2009 Blanchard Leadership ForumThe event is organized by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development and represents a partnership between CSU, Synovus, TSYS and Jim Blanchard, the retired CEO and chairman of Synovus.

The forum costs $349 per person, $199 (or $99 as a guest of full-registered participant) for Monday only and $249 for Tuesday only. Columbus State faculty and staff who register for the forum, will be invited to a VIP reception with Powell and other special guests at 6 p.m. Monday.

For other attendees, the doors open at 6 p.m. Monday for dinner at 7 p.m. and Powell’s presentation at 8 p.m The following morning’s speakers are Paul S. Amos II, president of Aflac and chief operating officer of Aflac U.S. (8 a.m.); Dan T. Cathy, Chick-fil-A president (8:30 a.m.); Norah O’Donnell, chief Washington correspondent for MSNBC and an NBC Today show contributing correspondent. (9:40 a.m.); and Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class (10:20 a.m.).

Also on Tuesday, Blanchard will give remarks at 11:45 a.m. before lunch and a 1:15 p.m. speech by Petraeus, who heads the U.S. Central Command after serving 19 months as the commanding general of the multinational force in Iraq.

From 2004-2005, Petreaus commanded both the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq. Earlier, he commanded the 101st Airborne Division as he led the “Screaming Eagles” in combat through the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2007, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential leaders of the year and one of four runners-up for Time Person of the Year. Recently, Foreign Policy magazine cited him as one of the world's Top 100 Public Intellectuals, and Esquire magazine named Petreaus as one of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century.

Prior to Powell’s 2001-2004 tenure as secretary of state, his 35-year military career included service as a four-star general and as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from 1989-1993, when he oversaw crises including the Panama intervention and the 1991 Persain Gulf War. He also served as a key aide to the secretary of defense and as national security advisor to President Reagan. Since returning to private life, he has become a strategic limited partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. He also is helping to raise funds for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. and for the construction of an education center for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Amos, who assumed his current roles with Aflac in 2005 and 2006, oversees the recruiting and training functions for 70,000-plus sales associates. Previously, he coordinated Aflac’s Georgia-North sales territory as it became the company’s No. 1 state operation. Prior to joining Aflac, Amos worked in the corporate legal division of the merger and acquisition firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, in Washington, D.C.

Cathy has led Chick-fil-A since 2001, succeeding his father, S Truett Cathy, who founded the 1,400-plus unit chain based in Atlanta. Dan Cathy is noted for spending the majority of his time traveling to the chain’s locations and interacting with Chick-fil-A's operators and 50,000-plus employees.

O’Donnell has served in her MSNBC role since 2005 and has covered the White House for NBC since 2003. Overall, she has covered several breaking news stories for both networks and earned the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Breaking News Coverage for her Dateline NBC story “DC in Crisis,” on the night of Sept.11, 2001. She also traveled extensively with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and reported on the war in Afghanistan and the war on terrorism.

Florida, named by Esquire magazine as one of the “Best and Brightest” in America, earned The Washington Monthly Political Book Award for The Rise of the Creative Class, which also was cited as “a major breakthrough idea “ by the Harvard Business Review.

Blanchard, the forum’s namesake and founder, began his service with Synovus in 1970, when he was selected as the top executive at Columbus Bank and Trust Company, a position previously held by his father, James W. Blanchard. The younger Blanchard served as CEO of Synovus from 1971 until being named chairman of the board in July 2005.

Columbus State’s Leadership Institute conducts value-based, leadership development programs for first-line supervisors through senior management executives. The institute also partners with businesses to address challenges, identify opportunities, and design and deliver solutions.

Institute Director Ed Helton said participant feedback typically indicates surprise for “not having to travel to Atlanta or New York” for the caliber of speakers the Blanchard forum brings to Columbus. Previous speakers include Newt Gingrich and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman, who headlined the 2008 forum.

For more information about registering for the forum, call Kim Rozycki, director of events and marketing at the Cunningham Center, 706-569-3055.