President Bush and Family Among Highlights of CSU’s Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum

COLUMBUS, Ga. --- President George W. Bush and his wife Laura made return appearances to Columbus State University’s Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum  and, this time with daughter Barbara leading a Q&A session, entertained the sold-out audience with memories, stories and learned lessons of leadership.

The trio spoke for about an hour to a sold-out audience of about 1,250 people attending the 10th anniversary of the forum, held Aug. 25 and 25. With Barbara asking most of the questions, President and Mrs. Bush kept the audience enthralled with quips and stories from their time in the White House, the importance of faith and family, memories from the Sept. 11 attacks, life after leaving Washington, D.C., their work today with the George W. Bush Institute and Barbara's Global Health Corps, and lessons they have learned about leadership.

“It was a pleasure to return to the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum for its 10th anniversary,” President Bush said Monday night. “I appreciate my friends Jimmy and Sis Blanchard, Columbus State University, and its Leadership Institute for inviting Laura, Barbara, and me and giving us the chance to talk about leadership and share some stories from our time in the White House.”

The Bush family was one of the highlights of the 10th annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, hosted by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University. The conference continued with a lineup of the best and brightest minds in the world.

The first day pastor, coach and author Tom Mullins, who talked about the need for leaders to think like a coach, not a boss; and Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author who provided stories of leadership from some of America's leading presidents.

Second day speakers included Shana Young, director of the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, who shared her top 10 leadership lessons; Scott Harrison, founder of Charity Water, who showed how stories and pictures can help power a movement; Daniel Pink, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author who said sales persuasion and moving others has changed more in the past 10 years than in the past 100 because information is now so readily available to consumers; John Maxwell, a world-renowned leadership expert, speaker and author who said intentional living is the key to success in life; James Dunne, Senior managing principal, Sandler O’Neill + Partners, LP, who told how he and his company persevered after losing 66 of its 171 partners and employees in the World Trade Center attacks; Simon Sinek, Author, speaker and visionary thinker who explained the physiological responses the body has to good leadership and why it is so important for employees to feel valued by their organization; Ken Blanchard, a business author and management expert, who talked about the need for humility and servant leaders; and finaly and General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and International forces in Afghanistan; who talked about the leadership and change lessons he has learned, including that being efficient -- as military units often are -- is no longer enough; leaders and teams also must have adaptability.

For the second year, faculty, staff and students with a valid CSU ID could watch most of the forum live via simulcast from the University Hall Auditorium.

“We were thrilled to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the forum with such a stellar lineup of powerful speakers,” said Ed Helton, executive director of leadership development. “With the support of the university and sponsors Synovus, TSYS, AT&T and WC Bradley, we have been able to consistently secure world-class leaders.”

Next year’s forum is slated for Sept. 12 and 13, 2016.

Featured speakers include Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal and New York Times best-selling author; Bonnie St. John, the first African-American to win medals in Winter Paralympic competition as a ski racer; Ajaypal Singh Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard; Bill Curry, an author, motivational speaker and former football coach; Henry Cloud, clinical psychologist, leadership expert and best-selling author; Tommy Spaulding, world-renowned speaker, New York Times best-selling author and former CEO; and Jim Nantz, sportscaster.

For more about the forum, visit

[caption id="attachment_5332" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Ed Helton, CSU's executive director of leadership development, closed out Monday's Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum with a few questions for Barbara Bush, President George Bush and Laura Bush. Photo by Southern Exposure Photography. Ed Helton, CSU's executive director of leadership development, at the 10th anniversary of CSU's Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum with a few questions for Barbara Bush, President George Bush and Laura Bush. Photo by Southern Exposure Photography.[/caption]