Annual Leadership Conference challenges participants to ‘make a difference’

Comedian, actor, radio personality and television host Rickey Smiley delivers the opening address to Leadership Conference participants on Friday.

Comedian, actor, radio personality and television host Rickey Smiley delivers the opening address to Leadership Conference participants on Friday.

Troy University and the City of Troy’s 16th annual Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month brought issues of servant leadership to the forefront Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4.

The challenge: to make a difference in each community represented.

“I hope you will leave this conference with renewed determination to make a difference,” said TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., during his remarks to the opening assembly in Sartain Hall.

The conference’s opening session, moderated by TROY Trustee Ed Crowell, a retired Air Force brigadier general, alumnus and President and GEO of VT Miltope based in Hope Hull, featured Alabama native Rickey Smiley as keynote speaker.

Smiley, a comedian, actor, radio personality and television host from Birmingham, challenged students in attendance to “be prepared.”

“Somebody made sacrifices so you could have what you have, but nobody has to do anything for you. You can do for yourself,” he said. “Be prepared. Know how to meet people. Know how to hold a knife and fork. Know about etiquette. When others fly low, you fly high.”

Special music was provided by the Carver High School Choir.

Saturday featured breakout sessions in two sets, tailored to adults and students.

The adult-track sessions featured presentations by Dr. Linda Felton-Smith, director of the Office of Learning Support at the Alabama State Department of Education; Steve Flowers, a political columnist and commentator; and Anthony Brock, head of school at Valiant Cross Academy in Montgomery.

Leading student sessions were: Dr. Felicia Ford, director of Counseling Services at Enterprise State Community College; Christopher Jones, director of Student Multicultural & Diversity Programs at UAB; and Chandra Myrick, director of Residential Student Experience at Florida State University.

A closing luncheon followed the breakout sessions. During the luncheon several students received awards.

Recognized were Ashley Snell, a senior exercise science major; Rashad Dillard, a senior psychology major; Caitlyn Smith, a senior political science major; Jordan Adams, a senior athletic training major; and Dexavia Turner, a senior accounting major.

The awards recognize the students’ dedication to leadership and service in their areas of influence.

Providing the keynote address was Bishop James L. Davis, presiding prelate of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s 2nd District, serving Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina and Western North Carolina. A fifth generation AME preacher, Davis grew up in Alabama and has presided over AME districts in South Africa and Birmingham.