Archive for ‘Leadership Summit’

Graduating Seniors Give Advice to the Incoming Freshmen Class of 2018

by   |  05.10.18  |  Academics, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, College Decisions, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Griggs Center, Leadership Summit, Lytle Center, Outcomes, Social Entrepreneurship, Study Abroad, Uncategorized

Graduation is only a few days away and it’s the time of year we sadly say goodbye to our graduating seniors. We are proud of our students and we’d like to introduce you to a few of them on this blog, letting you know how their time at ACU has molded them, where they are headed after graduation, and what advice they have for the new freshmen class coming in the fall.

Allie Cawyer, Marketing major from Plano, Texas

After graduation, I will be moving back to Dallas and hoping to work in the corporate event industry.

For the last year, I have been working with University Events here at ACU and it has only made me more excited to pursue events full time. So, getting to actually do events all the time and working in that position is making me excited for graduation. Plus, no event is the same so I will not have to worry about doing the same thing every day. 

Allie Cawyer

My favorite ACU memory was probably when I studied abroad two summers ago. The experience was unlike any other and I not only learned about all of the other cultures but also about myself.
My favorite class was Leadership Summit because I got credit for taking a class in the mountains of Colorado, but the takeaway was much more than just the credit hours. So many people poured into us during that week with life lessons, truth and God’s word that nothing can compare to it.
My advice would be to be as involved as you can within your department, no matter what it may be. Get to know not only your classmates but also your professors because they truly care about you and your life. Start it early on, so that you get the full experience all four years. 
Steven Yang, English major and COBA Student Worker from Chiang Rai, Thailand 

After graduation, I am going to Regent University of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I am excited to be done with my undergrad and be able to travel home and see my family in Thailand.

Steven (tan jacket in the middle) and friends hiking over Spring Break.

My favorite memory at ACU is climbing different buildings, having game nights, and biking around Abilene.

My favorite class was Literature for Young Adults because reading stories from this class connects me to my past and helps me find my identity. 

I would tell incoming freshmen  to work hard

but never lose the ability to see the silver-lining in life. Life is too short and too hard to not be happy. 

Katie Isham, Accounting major from Decatur, Texas

After graduation, I plan to work at PwC in Dallas as an Audit Associate. I’m most excited to go out and use the skills and knowledge I’ve learned throughout college to bless others. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I know that God has big plans- I’m just glad to be a part of them! 

Katie Isham

My favorite ACU memory…. hmmm. There’s not a certain memory that sticks out to me, rather my favorite thing about ACU is the people. Finding and creating friendships with diverse people who have the same aim, to love the Lord by loving others, has been instrumental in making me who I am. 
My advice to incoming freshmen is don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. You’ll regret the opportunities you didn’t take and the friends you didn’t make. Keep your relationship with the Lord your main priority and join a church and Bible study right away! Regardless of what happens in your next four years, know that God so loved you that he sent his son to die for you as an atonement for your sins, so that through GRACE you are saved, not by your own works. Give all the glory to God! 

Jack Oduro, Accounting major from Garland, Texas

After graduation, I am going to take a missional focused trip to Ghana for

Jack Oduro

the summer. Then, I begin getting ready for my full time job with Weaver & Tidwell LLP in Dallas. I am excited about graduation and grateful that all of my family is in one place for the first time in two years

My favorite ACU memory is…truly, any time I got to spend time with the people at this school was inspiring. Some of my best moments may include late night strolls around campus and potential trespassing with life-long friends, friendships which began here. 
My favorite classes were Social Entrepreneurship with Laura Philips and Leadership Summit with the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership. They are both up there in the extraordinary classes category. They both live up to ACU’s commitment of creating leaders for Christian service around the world. 
My advice for the fishy is to seek to genuinely serve others because big changes start with the little acts of service.
Congratulations to the class of 2018! As Minor Meyers said, “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development

by   |  10.04.17  |  Academics, COBA Events, City of Abilene, Distinguished Speakers Series, Faith Infusion, Leadership, Leadership Summit, Lytle Center, Special Speakers

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development is an emerging organization within COBA. The mission of the Lytle Center is to challenge individuals to wholeheartedly follow Christ, equipping them to be leaders of integrity at home, work and in their community. The Lytle Center holds weekly chapel for students, with guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds who come speak to students about the ways in which they enact their faith in their leadership roles and how students can do the same. This semester, Lytle Center Chapel has had the pleasure of welcoming guests like Anthony Williams, the mayor of Abilene, who encouraged students to have the courage to get out of their comfort zones and face the issues before them in order to lead well.

Students have enjoyed learning from community leaders and being able to participate in the founding and forming of the Lytle Center. A student-run Advisory Board meets once a month to talk about the progress of the Lytle Center, to brainstorm new ideas, and to strategize how goals for the Center can be reached. We think that the student involvement is key; their help in structuring the center is essential to establishing the value and utility students will receive by involvement. The Lytle Center wants students of all majors – not just business – to become involved. A significant part of the foundation and forming of the Lytle Center has focused on how leadership extends beyond the business world. The Lytle Center believes that all students, regardless of major or career path, need to have the tools to lead in an effective, Christ-like manner. We look forward to seeing increased participation with students all over ACU’s campus.

The Lytle Center has become the point organization for many of COBA’s pre-existing leadership programs, uniting them under one body. Now in its 20th year, Leadership Summit is being planned within the Lytle Center, with guests like 2014 Time Person of the Year, Kent Brantley and President of Kellogg U.S. Specialty Channels, Wendy Davidson, scheduled to speak at the January short-course held in Colorado. Additionally, the Lytle Center is home to the Distinguished Speaker Series, which brings in Fortune 500 executives from around the country to speak to students about Christian business leadership perspectives they have learned through trial and error in their own careers.

The Lytle Center is working to form small groups for students who are interested in being mentored by older peers and ACU faculty and staff. The center is also working with churches around the city of Abilene to get students more involved in college ministries. The Lytle Center is in the early stages of exploring and planning a week-long service project for Spring Break to South Texas to help relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The service trip will be open for all students to participate.

We are excited to see what the Lytle Center will become and where it will take our students. We envision a new generation of leaders coming forth from involvement with the Lytle Center who rely on their faith to be effective in their communities. Keep up to date with the Lytle Center as it grows and develops by liking the Facebook page and watch for events like Leadership Summit and Distinguished Speaker Series for a chance to get involved. You can learn more by going to their blog:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Colossians 3:23



Renewal on the Mountain: Leadership Summit 2015

by   |  03.11.15  |  Academics, COBA Events, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Leadership Summit, Special Speakers, Uncategorized


Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado


January 2-8, 2015, COBA held the 17th annual Leadership Summit at Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado. There were 139 students from ACU and 19 students from Lubbock Christian University who gathered to hear from professionals and well-known Christian leaders working in the marketplace. This unique opportunity offers a blend of dynamic speakers, practical application, skill building, and spiritual insight, all designed to equip students for leadership in the family, in their community, and in the marketplace. There were a total of 18 speakers and four mentor couples, as well as faculty and staff, on the mountain. Speakers included Mike Haley from Focus on the Family, Eric Pillmore (senior Vice President-Corporate Governance for Tyco International Ltd.), Elise Mitchell (ACU’s 2015 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and founding sponsor of Morris and Mitchell Advertising Agency), Walmart’s Stephen Quinn and John Aden, Jim Mhoon and Glenn Stanton from Focus on the Family,  Michael Tremain , and Kent and Amber Brantly (ACU’s 2015 Young Alumni of the Year, medical missionaries for Samaritan’s Purse, and survivor of Ebola).

Kent and Amber Brantly

Kent and Amber Brantly

The Brantly’s spoke passionately about serving your community, whether that is locally or globally, with humility and service. Kent and Amber shared their story from courtship to marriage and how their desire to serve as medical missionaries became a passion that drew them together and continues to guide their decisions as a family.

Eric Pillmore

Eric Pillmore

Eric Pillmore led students through a case study of Tyco, narrating the rise and fall of the executives of the infamous company. As students played the parts of the key figures in the case study, Pillmore discussed the importance of ethics and standards in business practices.

Elise Mitchell

Elise Mitchell

Elise Mitchell shared the story of founding her company, Mitchell Communications Group, and the transitions that accompanied her decision to sell her company to Dentsu Public Relations where she now serves as CEO. She encouraged students to enjoy the journey and emphasized that it is not just about arriving at the destination.

John Aden

John Aden

John Aden inspired students to look at the journey of Moses as a guide for life. He explained that just as Moses had his Red Sea moment, a series of highs and lows in life, each of us would face our own stages in life where we have to push forward in faith even though we may be at a low point in our journey.


Leadership Summit Students, Faculty and Staff

When surveyed after Leadership Summit, one student responded, ” It was great to hear from those big name people in the business world and to realize that they are people just like us. John Aden sat at my table on day during lunch and it was cool to talk to him and to remember that he is just a regular guy and that he had is struggles and how he used them to further his career and life. All of the speakers were just so humble and really encouraged us to pursue God above all else. Probably on of the best decisions I have ever made in college to attend Leadership Summit. ”


Hayley Griffin, Carolyn Heard, and Butter Saowatarnpong

Carolyn Heard, a junior marketing major, loved hearing from powerful and influential leaders in the marketplace. Carolyn especially enjoyed listening to Elise Mitchell speak. She was inspired by Elise’s passion for public relations and her entrepreneurial spirit, and appreciated that she shared her success stories as well as her struggles. After coming down from the mountain, Carolyn felt refreshed and ready to start the new year with the right mindset of relying on God in every situation. She said, “There is this unique atmosphere at Summit; you’re basically in this community for a week that is looking to grow in their business knowledge as well as in their spirituality.”

Jessica Carrigan (right)

Judith Barajas, Carolyn Heard, and Jessica Carrigan

 Jessica Carrigan, a senior marketing major, is thankful for the unique opportunities she was able to experience at Summit. She says, “I loved building a community with people that I normally do not see every day. Because I am a senior, connecting with employers on a Christian level was inspiring for me. I feel empowered to enter the marketplace and be a stronger Christian leader.”

Assistant Professor Jennifer Golden

Assistant Professor Jennifer Golden

Assistant Professor Jennifer Golden said she truly felt God’s presence on the mountain this year. She was incredibly blessed to see how students soaked in every word the speakers had to say, asking difficult questions and seeking to learn how to deal with hard circumstances in life. “I was so inspired by these speakers’ powerful testimonies of loss, hardship, and success. God is using their transformational stories to touch the lives of students and people throughout the world.”


Nancy Ndekwe, Rodney Johnson,  and Maya Triplett

Since 1999, Leadership Summit has built a special community for students, faculty, and speakers to feel God’s inevitable presence. Leadership Summit continues to empower students to find their callings, equipping them to be strong Christian leaders in the church, home, and community.

Sunrise at Summit

Sunrise at Summit

Into the Marketplace: Sarah Puckett Joins PFSweb Team

by   |  05.19.14  |  COBA Alumni, Careers In..., Current Students, Faith Infusion, Leadership Summit

Sarah Puckett, a Marketing major from Amarillo, took a job offer from PFSweb to join their team in Dallas. Sarah is excited to start working with a company with such a unique culture, striving to make a difference in their industry with their customers and employees. PFSweb is a leading global provider of comprehensive eCommerce solutions. Their services include eCommerce technology, order management services, financial services, interactive marketing services, product content management, high-touch customer care, and global logistics. PFSweb provides services for well-known brands in the marketplace, including Asics, T.J. Maxx, L’Oreal, and Pandora. Sarah believes that COBA has prepared her well for this job opportunity, challenging her to think in new ways and be a good steward with the talents He has given her. COBA classes and events such as Leadership Summit have built the foundation for the person Sarah wants to be in the marketplace. By learning from COBA mentors and professors, she is ready to enter the workforce with a strong sense of purpose and mission. Sarah will begin working for PFSweb on June 16th. Congratulations, Sarah!


“Something that is far more important than all of the applications and material that I learned from COBA was how to be a strong Christian in the business world and constantly look for ways to serve others and be a good steward,” says Sarah Puckett, a Marketing major now working for PFSweb in Allen, TX.

Leadership Summit: Day 5

by   |  02.07.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Leadership Summit

The fifth and final day of Leadership Summit was fairly low key as we all began to pack our bags and think about heading home.

In between taking pictures of the mountains, we got to listen to John Aden, Executive Vice President of General Merchandise for Wal-Mart, talk about his faith journey and what it looks like to live out that faith in the marketplace.

John Aden, Executive Vice President of General Merchandise, Wal-Mart, Inc.

Mr. Aden believes that it is only through a relationship with Christ that we can make a difference in our workplaces, a fact that he summarized by saying,

“We have to get close to Christ so we can see what He’s doing in the workplace.”

Mr. Aden went on to explain that bold living is a necessary part of making a difference in the market place, and he offered us some profound advice on how to achieve world-changing boldness.

Four Suggestions for Living Boldly:

  1. Remain in relationship with God
  2. Remember God’s presence and promises
  3. Encourage each other by being in deep relationships
  4. Step out in faith—boldly

Mr. Aden followed this inspiring discussion by inviting us all to write down a burden we were carrying and to throw it in the trash as a symbol of what we were leaving on the mountain.

This exercise was moving, because it allowed everyone who participated in Summit to go through the physical act of giving a specific burden over to God.  After five days of listening, it seemed fitting to end our time together by doing something so symbolic.

Praying over Summit Speakers

All in all, Leadership Summit was an incredibly transformative experience, and I would recommend it to all ACU students, regardless of their major.

Thank you to everyone who put in the time and effort to make this week possible!

Leadership Summit: Day 4

by   |  02.04.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Leadership Summit

The fourth day of Summit was my favorite. In addition to a lesson on leadership taught by Tim Johnston, we got to hear messages from Mike Haley, formerly of Focus on the Family, and Stephen Quinn, Chief Marketing Officer of Wal-Mart.

Mike Haley

Both of these men told incredible stories about the hard times they’ve been through and the way that God has sustained them throughout those times.

Of all the speakers we heard throughout the week, I found Mr. Quinn’s to be the most moving, in part because the night before his presentation, my friends and I had the opportunity to eat dinner with him and his wife, Linda.  Throughout the meal, the Quinns told us about their hobbies and their families, a conversation that I can’t imagine having with a senior level executive anywhere else.

Stephen Quinn, CMO of Wal-mart

Last year Mr. Quinn was named the top marketer in the world, and while he told us about some of his work as a marketer at various companies, his emphasis was on something different: Jesus.

Mr. Quinn truly believes that God has called him to serve others in the marketplace. As a result of this conviction, he allows God to open his eyes to individuals in his workplace who are suffering. As a result of this awareness, Mr. Quinn has been able to introduce many of his employees to Jesus.

Mr. Quinn summed this up perfectly when he said,

“You will never walk in perfect love until you invest in people.”

Are you investing in those around you?

Leadership Summit: Day 3

by   |  01.25.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Leadership Summit, Uncategorized

A group of students in front of a frozen waterfall at the end of our hike

We kicked off the third day of Summit listening to Dr. Rick Lytle, Dean of the College of Business, talk about inspiring a shared vision. Outside of the guest speakers who we got to listen to, this particular lesson on leadership was probably my favorite. One of the biggest things I walked away from was the simple idea that,

“We don’t think big enough, often enough.”

This is an incredibly difficult concept to grasp, because often as leaders we try to cover all the bases and make sure we don’t have any obvious liabilities. However, in this process it is very easy for leadership to lose sight of any big goals it may have.

One incredible example of a group who never lost sight of its big goals is Mission Lazarus, a nonprofit relief organization located in Honduras. Mission Lazarus was founded by ACU alum Jarrod Brown; luckily for us, Jarrod and his family were actually at Summit, where we had the opportunity to listen to Jarrod speak and then to work through a case study with him and his wife, Allison.

Jarrod Brown, of Mission Lazarus

Jarrod began his speech by talking about the kind of person he was when he was here at ACU. He explained that he’d been completely consumed with the idea of making money, and that God really had no place in his life. Immediately after graduating, he jumped on the corporate ladder and landed an unbelievable consulting job that most COBA grads would love to attain.

However, he began to realize he wasn’t fulfilled, and after visiting Honduras on a short-term mission trip, Jarrod began to feel God leading him towards permanent residence in Honduras.

Jarrod’s story struck a chord with a lot of the students at Summit. After all, most of us are currently studying business here at COBA, and a lot of us would like to get a great, high-paying job straight out of college. Because of the parallel that Jarrod’s story had with many of our own, the points he made about living for Christ really struck home:

  1. The most important investments you will make are those in your family.
  2. Don’t settle for the status quo.
  3. Live what you claim to be.

Listening to Jarrod, I was reminded of the unique opportunity that I have to be a part of COBA. I can’t imagine studying business anywhere else, and if I do anything but use that opportunity to bring God glory, then I am making a lesser choice. Instead of allowing myself to do what I want to do, I need to seek God’s will for my life and my calling, something that I can begin working on right now. As Jarrod pointed out,

“You need to decide who you are and what you stand for today.”

What do you stand for?

Leadership Summit: Day 2

by   |  01.24.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Leadership Summit, Uncategorized

Much like the first day, the second day of Summit was packed full of small groups, speakers, and team activities. However, on this second day the emphasis was on the role of leadership in the church.

In order to help us better understand this complex topic, Rick Atchley, senior minister of The Hills Church, delivered one of the most challenging messages I’ve ever heard on the desperate need for leadership in America’s churches today.

Rick Atchley, Senior Minister at The Hills Church

During his lecture, a lot of Mr. Atchley’s words made an impression on me. However, one of the biggest things I walked away with was his statement that,

“You must minister from your blessing instead of for a blessing.”

This point really got me thinking. I’m only nineteen, but throughout my life I’ve seen numerous individuals go into ministry and then get burned out. Mr. Atchley’s statement made me stop and think about how critical it is to allow ourselves to be filled by God before we try to serve and minister to others. I also wondered how often we as the church forget about this step and then wonder why we seem to have nothing to offer others.

In addition to hearing thought-provoking speakers like Mr. Atchley who caused me to examine and reassess my thinking, I also loved the case studies in which we got to participate.

The unique thing about these case studies is that they were written by our guest speakers and draw on real experiences from their lives. After discussing the case studies amongst ourselves, we then discussed these case studies as a class with the speakers who wrote them.

Throughout this process, we were given the opportunity to process the way we would behave before hearing how older and wiser individuals actually chose to handle things.

All in all, listening to Mr. Atchley challenged me to rethink my role in the church and in God’s bigger story for my life.

What is your role in that story?

Students participated in relays and other games during team activity time

Leadership Summit: Day 1

by   |  01.17.13  |  COBA Alumni, Current Students, Leadership Summit

Over Christmas break I had the opportunity to spend five days in Buena Vista, Colorado participating in COBA’s 15th annual Leadership Summit.

That’s right; I earned three hours of upper level business credit while listening to some of the most prominent church and business leaders in the world and living in the midst of this:

Because I was so busy hiking through the Rockies and eating dinner with guests like Stephen Quinn, Chief Marketing Officer of Wal-Mart, I didn’t have time to blog while I was at Summit. As a result, I’m now playing catch up, and while a couple of paragraphs come nowhere close to capturing the life-changing experience that is Leadership Summit, I’m going to do my best to give you some highlights from each day. Hopefully this meager snapshot will give you a better idea of the life-changing five days that compose Leadership Summit.

Leadership Summit: Day 1

Because Summit supports the perspective that leadership should transcend all aspects of life, our first day on the mountain was about leadership in the family. As a result, our speakers on this first day were very family-oriented.

This remarkable ensemble of presenters was made up of Greg and Erin Smalley, of the Marriage and Family Formation department of Focus on the Family, Glenn Stanton, director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, and Lisa Anderson, director of young adults for Focus on the Family. Together, these speakers delivered powerful, humor-infused lectures on everything from the importance of communication in relationships to the top reasons young adults don’t mature.

While I was impressed with the messages delivered by all four speakers, my favorite part of the first day was actually the time we got to spend in small groups with mentoring couples. COBA invited four couples young couples to talk about what life had been like as they entered the real world, pursued careers, and started families. As a result, they were able to give us students some insight into how the next ten or fifteen years of our lives might play out.

As I listened to these incredible leaders share stories from their lives and advice on how to deal with other people, one of them reminded us of this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

“People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.”

This is why relationships matter, whether in the family or in the workplace. At COBA, we understand that knowledge alone is not what makes a great leader. A great leader goes beyond knowledge, because a great leader is someone who cares.

Leadership Summit 2013 Wants You!

by   |  09.25.12  |  Leadership Summit

If you had the opportunity to spend a week in the winter wonderland of Colorado learning from some of the nation’s foremost experts on business, faith, and family, wouldn’t you take it?

Of course you would!

Buena Vista, Colorado

What if you got class credit for it?

Well then, you’d already be signed up.

The great thing about this theoretical event is that it is a reality. In fact, every January, nearly one-hundred-and-fifty students from all over ACU’s campus pack up their scarves and coats and head off to Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado to participate in what could well be the most transformative class of their college career.

It’s called Leadership Summit.

Tim Johnston, Assistant Dean of COBA and one of the masterminds behind Leadership Summit, explained that even though Summit is put on by COBA, it doesn’t just view the world through the lens of business. Instead, Summit takes a step back and views the larger picture that makes up our society.

“What are key things happening in society?” Johnston asked. “The family unit is critical to society. Church is critical to society. Business is critical to society.”

Dr. Rick Lytle, dean of COBA, and former COBA professor Mike Winegeart work together with Johnston to bring in renowned speakers who will make these three areas of focus a reality for the students participating in Leadership Summit.

ACU Students at Leadship Summit 2012

Leanne Blair, a senior Accounting major, participated in Summit last year and really enjoyed what the speakers had to say.

“The best part about Leadership Summit is the speakers,” said Leanne. “ACU does a phenomenal job at getting influential speakers to Summit that you get to interact with on a personal level. You’re given the opportunity to hear lectures, ask questions and just hang out with big time CEO’s, presidents and the like, who openly share how they have integrated faith and business. It’s a rare opportunity where you and your fellow peers can grow in faith together… in COLORADO! Oh and there’s great food.”

While the 2013 speaker slate is not yet set in stone, many of this year’s speakers have already been determined. They include the following:

Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, who speak all over the country on marriage, will provide insight into healthy marriages and families.

Glenn Stanton, the director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, who will be working with Lisa Anderson, founder and president of LMA Consulting Group to discuss cultural trends and their effect on society.

Jarrod Brown, President and Co-Founder of Mission Lazarus, will be speaking about using business as a mission.

John Aden, former president of Mac Tools and a current Executive Vice President of Wal-Mart, will speak about faith in the workplace.

Mike Haley, who has been rated Leadership Summit’s number one speaker over the past several years, will once again be sharing a message on culture.

Rick Atchley, preaching minister at The Hills Church of Christ, will be talking about the necessity of strong leadership in the church.

As always, the diversity provided by Leadership Summit’s speakers is part of what makes the experience so transformational, and when that unique diversity is combined with cool Colorado air and the smell of pine trees, well, lives change.

“When you have a mountain top experience, it’s different,” explains Johnston.

Come experience that difference for yourself.

For more information, be sure to attend one of the Summit interest meetings, where chapel credit will be awarded. The meetings will be held at 11:00 in COBA Room 201 on the following dates:

Wednesday, September 26

Tuesday, October 30

Friday, November 16

Please click here to access the Leadership Summit website (which contains more logistical details), and feel free to contact Nuria Hall at with any questions you may have.

ACU Students at Summit 2012