A message to current leaders:

October 21, 2019Megan Dobbs; Community Foundation of Abilene 2019 Leadership Summit Chair

To build a sturdy structure that can stand for generations, the integrity of the building materials is critical.  I’m no brick mason (although, my great-grandfathers were, so perhaps it’s in my DNA…), but quick research via the modern age’s can’t-live-without, never-misleading (right?) information guru, Google, tells me that brick quality is an essential component to an abiding brick structure.

Think of each generation as a layer of bricks in a large building, each building representing a different industry in our community.  Now, think of the bricks that make up your industry’s building.

The generation of leaders in place today – business owners, chief executives, directors – represent a layer of strong, well-made bricks in the building.  What happens, though, if the current age of leaders isn’t doing everything it can to make sure the next course of bricks is sturdy enough to fortify the building as it develops?  What then becomes the value of all the hard work you’re putting in today?

To cut to the chase, I’ll use a more common cliché.  Today’s leaders must prepare us young professionals to stand on their shoulders. Prepare us to build upon (pun intended) the incredible work of the visionaries who have made our community excellent.

This is why we host the Abilene Young Professionals Leadership Summit.  I implore you to consider letting your young professional employees leave the office for just half a day on November 14 to attend this valuable event.

About the Summit

This is the second year for the summit, which is the only event of its kind in all of West Texas.  AYP committees have worked hard to identify meaningful content to maximize the value of this half-day event.  We have scoured survey results from year one of the summit to make sure the content aligns with what our young professionals value.

Keynote Speakers – We’re bringing in two nationally-acclaimed speakers to share their stories and insights.

  • Anne Mahlum will open up the summit. She is the owner of a business called [solidcore], a fitness company she founded in 2013. She has since grown the company to more than 50 locations across the country and more than 100,000 clients, including Michelle Obama.  She has a goal to expand the company to close to 100 locations by 2020, and she’s still just 39 years old!
  • We’ll close out the summit with our second keynote speaker, Libby Spears. Libby is the founder of Bravo CC, a communications and consulting venture.  Her client list includes JCPenney, GameStop, Accenture and other well-known brands.  Her presentation – What’s Your Plan Be? – will help young professionals develop strategies for personal and professional success.

Breakout Sessions – Our four breakout sessions feature exclusively local speakers with proven expertise in their fields. Attendees can choose two of the following breakout sessions to attend:

  • Climbing the Ladder – This session features local entrepreneur Tim Smith and business leader David Pittman. Tim and David will share their own career journeys and provide key insights into how they got to where they are today.
  • Tools to Take to the Boardroom – Michelle Parrish of the Community Foundation of Abilene and Chris Montoya of First Financial Trust will lead this in-depth session on the value of getting involved with local nonprofits and tips on what it takes to be a good board member.
  • What I Wish I Knew Then – This multi-faceted session features Brad Benham, President of The ACU Foundation; Jessi Bailey, HR Director for the West Texas Rehabilitation Center; and Major Tamekia Payne, Commander of the 7th Force Support Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base. These three will talk about measures young professionals can implement now, rather than later, to get a jump in their personal and career growth.
  • Get the Most Out of Your Day – Dynamic duo Mark and Jenn Rogers are both leaders of their organizations, yet they still make time to put family first, volunteer for causes they’re passionate about, enjoy extracurricular activities and get eight hours of sleep a night! It’s not a fluke that they’re able to make it all work. They’ll share insights into their strategies that can help young professionals get the most out of their day.

So, what do you say we all work together to equip our young professional thinkers and doers with the skills, knowledge and resources we need to take Abilene’s institutions to the next level?

If letting your employees off for half a day can yield a more inspired and energized young professional base, I think we all know how that cost-benefit analysis turns out.

And, let’s not forget how much we all know Abilene needs to expand its skilled workforce.  Retention is a big part of that, and events like the AYP Leadership Summit add real value to a young professional’s experience in Abilene.

We’re the next layer of bricks, and we intend to be ready to fortify the building.  What will you do to help us get there?


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