October 18, 2018

Media Advisory – Simon Leadership Weekend Saturday in East St. Louis

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute will hold its annual Metro East Youth Leadership Weekend on Oct. 20 in a new setting – the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis. 

The theme for Saturday’s leadership weekend, now in its 16th year, is “Shaping the Future: African-American Males Rethinking Leadership.” The event is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Joyner-Kersee Center, 101 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Circle, directly across from Jones Park. As a part of the event, the YMCA will provide team-building and leadership exercises for more than 60 high school students from the Metro East area. 

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the leadership weekend activities. For more information, contact Linda Renee Baker, Institute/university professor and project director at 217/553-6660 or by email at lrbaker@siu.edu

Same important program in new location 

Held the first 15 years at SIU Carbondale, program organizers decided to host the event locally to maximize student participation and give them same important programming right in their own community. 

Those attending will participate in team-building workshops and hear “inspiring stories about successful careers and influential lives,” reflecting the best of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, D-Illinois, who founded the institute. 

“Youth Leadership Weekend is an important event on the Institute’s calendar every year because it underscores and continues Paul Simon’s commitment to helping young people develop leadership skills and think seriously about their own careers,” John Shaw, Institute director, said. 

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. 

Busy day of activities planned 

The schedule includes: 

  • 9 a.m. – Opening keynote: Illinois state Rep. Art Turner, Jr., deputy majority leader and an SIU Carbondale alumnus.
  • 11 a.m. – Alumni panel that focuses on helping each student develop a strategic plan for their futures. Panelists include SIU Carbondale graduates and leadership weekend alumni Ahmad Hicks, a sports/reporter anchor at KDSK-TV; Oliver Keys, an area manager with Fiat Chrysler Automotive, and Reginald Wince, an educator and clinical social worker. Attorney Untress Quinn, a shareholder with the Sandberg Phoenix law firm will be the moderator.
  • Noon – Keynote address: Broderick Coats, government relations director, AmerenUE, will present, “Rethinking Leadership to Shape Your Future.”
  • 1-2 p.m. – Leadership activities.
  • 2:15 p.m. – Panel discussion led by Cedric Mitchell, O’Fallon, Illinois. A member of the local planning team since the event’s inception in 2003, students will hear a variety of topics that involve transitioning from high school to college. 

Community partner support has been crucial 

Area program partners include local educational institutions, PanHellenic organizations and other community-based organizations. The groups include Alpha Phi Alpha, Top Ladies of Distinction, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi and the SIU Charter School. The local organizations nominate students to attend. 

“We could not have pulled off a successful program through the years without the crucial support of our community partners. Their continuous support really makes the difference,” Baker said.