September 29, 2017

Media Advisory -- Simon Leadership Weekend

An annual retreat designed to influence the lives of young men from the Metro East will take place this weekend at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The 15th Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Leadership Conference will bring 45 junior high and high school students to campus for two days of activities, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The focus is on enhancing leadership qualities of African-American young men through reinforcing positive qualities, building skills and increasing career awareness education. 

The program, “Developing Leadership: Creating Innovative Leaders in a Global Society” will be 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 weekend focuses on providing students with leadership skills through team-building and communications activities. For a third year, AT&T is sponsoring the event. The young men who attend are involved in local mentoring programs. 

The keynote speaker for Saturday’s luncheon at 12:30 p.m. in the Touch of Nature Dining Hall is Evan Brown. Brown, a doctoral student at SIU who is majoring in educational administration, is founder and CEO of a non-profit organization called Meet & Teach. Meet & Teach travels to Cape Town, South Africa, and provides disadvantaged youth with educational hands-on workshops, teaching them creative processes such as videography, music production, martial arts, dance, and more. 

Afternoon panels include sessions on transitioning to college and financial aid. Speakers include Chester Hood, associate director for diversity in Undergraduate Admissions, at 1:10 p.m. and Cordy Love, director of New Student Programs, at 3:30 p.m.

An alumni panel featuring SIU Carbondale graduates Oliver Keys and Travis Washington will discuss the importance of internships and extracurricular activities. Keys attended the leadership weekend while in high school. He is a service and parts area manager with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). His role is to lead and consult dealers within his district. Washington was the institute’s 2017 Alexander Lane intern, earned a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies and speech communications and is a graduate student in educational administration. 

The group will attend the Saluki football game against Northern Iowa at Saluki Stadium Saturday night. Later, Ramar Henderson, a doctoral student in rehabilitation, will facilitate a panel discussion on responsibilities of a college student. The panelists include Cordaro Thomas, an alumnus of the Masters of Public Administration program and current academic adviser; Kevin Gettis, a first-year SIU School of Law student, and Ryan Vickers, a SIU Carbondale history alumnus now serving on the Fairview Heights City Council. 

At 8 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 1, William T. “Bill” Norwood, a retired United Airlines captain, veteran, and former SIU Board of Trustees member, will speak to the group at Touch of Nature. Norwood, who served in the U.S. Air Force, had a 31-year career with United Airlines where he was the company’s first African-American pilot and the first to achieve the rank of captain.  He is a founding member of the Organization of Black Airline Pilots and is a Lincoln Laureate in the Lincoln Academy of Illinois -- the highest honor for outstanding achievement given by the state to people who were born or who lived in Illinois. Norwood, a native of Centralia is author of the 2014 book, “Cleared for Takeoff: A Pilot’s Story of Challenges and Triumphs.” 

Students will return to the Simon Institute on campus to hear Michael Rashid, the keynote speaker, present “Innovative Leadership: A Mandate for the Future.” Rashid is CEO and plan president of Illinicare Health. Prior to joining Illinicare Health in August Rashid spent nearly 20 years with AmeriHealth Caritas, holding multiple leadership positions, including CEO, where he was instrumental in expanding the company from a 500,000-member organization serving Medicaid recipients in the Philadelphia region into a 5 million- member organization serving people in 15 states and Washington D.C. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Jak Tichenor, institute interim director, and Baker, a university professor, will award two leadership weekend participants the 2017 Paul Simon Leadership and Character Award.

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