October 23, 2014

Media Advisory – Simon Leadership Weekend

An annual leadership conference that seeks to influence the lives of young men from the Metro East takes place this weekend at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The 12th Paul Simon Leadership Conference will bring 35 to 40 junior high and high school students to campus for two days of activities.  The focus is on enhancing leadership qualities of African-American young men through reinforcing positive qualities, building skills and increasing career awareness education. 

“Emerging Leadership: Young Men Building Accountability, Respect and Self Confidence toward Future Rewards,” is Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25 and 26, at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center and various locations on campus. 

Reporters, photographers and video crews are welcome to cover the activities. For more information, or to arrange interviews, contact Linda Renee Baker, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute/University professor and project director, at 217/553-6660. 

“The challenge for young African American men was an important issue to Paul Simon, who started this annual event.  It’s one of the most important things we do,” David Yepsen, institute director, said.  “It’s designed to offer these young men a chance to break away for a nice weekend on campus while giving them an opportunity to hear some good motivational speakers and some time to reflect on what they are told.   Our goal with this is to offer some guidance and inspiration to them.” 

This year’s keynote speaker for Saturday’s luncheon, set for 12:20 p.m. in the Student Services Building, is attorney Howard A. Peters IV, a special assistant to the director of the Springfield Urban League, Inc. 

All of the panelists are SIU Carbondale graduates. Session speakers on Saturday include Daniel Booth, principal at Carbondale Community High School and Stanley Moore, a 4th District Cook County Commissioner. Later in the day, Derrick Williams, assistant director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence and director of the Black Male Initiative at SIU will moderate a discussion on the responsibility as a college student. The weekend is also a way to highlight the campus, and participants will attend the Saluki football homecoming game Saturday against Indiana State. 

At Noon on Sunday, another SIU Carbondale alumnus, Illinois state Rep. Art Turner, Jr., D-Chicago, an assistant majority leader, will present the keynote address. At 1 p.m., Yepsen will announce the winner and runner-up of the 2014 Paul Simon Leadership and Character Award. A complete schedule of events is available at paulsimoninstitute.siu.edu in the “Metro East Youth Leadership Weekend” section. 

Institute founder and former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and then-associate director Mike Lawrence established the program in November 2003.  Simon participated in the inaugural event in 2003 shortly before his death a month later.