Leadership Summit 2020
Leadership Summit 2020 is complete and the students have cleared out and come back to ACU with jaws wide open and a new mindset. This year I (Katie Norris ’22) joined my fellow classmates in experiencing Leadership Summit at Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, CO in early January. If you don’t know much about Summit, the most important thing to know is that it is a challenging process that pushes you to do the things you are passionate about but haven’t had the courage or tools to step up and do yet. We call this our “River Crossing” on the mountain. Luckily, we didn’t have to cross any actual rivers in the rather icy weather.
My purpose in writing this blog is to recap the trip and give a student insight as to what happens on the mountain that leads so many people to come away from Leadership Summit with a new perspective and motivation.
A typical day at Summit would begin at 8:00 am and end about 9:00 pm with a nice two hour break in the middle of the day. Students spent the time participating in case studies, listening to speaker sessions, interactive breakout sessions, small group processing time, worship, and various activities like archery tag, taking hikes, and the Screamer (picture attached).
What’s beautiful about Leadership Summit is that it is all about utilizing your leadership potential (whether that be a role as a leader in your organization or something as simple as being a son or daughter) and being a servant to the communities you are a part, for their betterment. Not only were we given a charge from Dr. Dennis Marquardt and Dr. Rick Lytle to make an impact using our leadership roles, but we were given astonishing examples of people who have done so themselves and who gave us tools to succeed in our own visions.
This is done through the testimonies of distinguished guest speakers. We spent much of our time listening to accomplished people from different backgrounds speak on a variety of topics. This year, we were blessed with the opportunity to hear Mo Isom Aiken (New York Times best-selling author), April and Mark Anthony (founders of Encompass Home Health and Homecare Homebase ), Kathy Crockett (professor and consultant), Wendy Davidson (President of Away From Home, Kellogg Company), Elise Mitchell (Entrepreneur, CEO, consultant, and executive coach), Carlos Sepulveda (Chairman of Triumph Bancorp, Inc.), Rick Atchley (preaching minister at the Hills Church of Christ), Tim Goeglein (Vice President for External and Government Relations at Focus on the Family in Washington), David Eaton (founder of Axis), Stephen Quinn (Chief Marketing Officer of the CEO Forum), Janeen Uzzell (Global Technology Executive at Wikimedia), and Mike Willoughby (Chief Executive Officer at PFSweb). To show our thanks for the words spoken over us, we sang “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” over each speaker after their session. On top of all of this, one of the perks of Leadership Summit was also the opportunity to sit with these speakers at meals, get to know them, and ask them questions.
Mo Isom Aiken
Each and every River Crossing project was uniquely crafted based off of each individual student’s passions, life journey, and values. In order to bring us to a place where we could recognize each of those factors, we completed assignments before our week on the mountain that allowed us to consider what we truly value based on how we spend our time. We also were asked to write down major points in our life that shape our perspective and what we are passionate about in something called a “Journey Line”. I had no preexisting expectations of what Summit would be like and found some assignments to be what I thought was simple busywork. Dr. Marquardt quickly challenged that idea when we worked through our values session. He presented a statement based off of that assignment that gave the realization that we may not always value what we say we value over other things that we choose to make time for. This made everyone in the room rethink how they spend their time day to day, to think about what they truly value, and what they need to value more.
One really unique experience came from completing a “Journey Line” that showed the points in our life that we felt like were pivotal moments in a “highs and lows” sort of fashion. At the beginning of the week, we were asked to write this “Journey Line” on a giant paper that we hung on the walls where they remained for the week. This was a neat experience as we got to walk around the room during free times and read our peers’ journey lines. In my observations, it gave us a mindset of understanding and an excitement to dig deeper with each other throughout the week.
We were continually astonished by the relevant and practical speaker sessions that were faith focused. Speaking for everyone at Summit, I can say it was refreshing to hear people boldly talk about the true and hard things in life. As students, we were especially grateful to hear professionals speak more into life than business plans and profit maximization.
Over the course of the week we participated in activities that grew our friendships, relationships, faith, knowledge, and inspiration to do great things. To close out the week-a graduation ceremony. Not quite what you would expect from a business short course. Maybe that’s why we students found it so impactful. God seems to work even on the mountains in life.
The 2019 Leadership Summit group.
In January, over seventy students traveled to the top of a mountain in Colorado and spent a week learning about leadership from thirteen speaker sessions and a team of faculty and staff from ACU. Through the dynamic speakers, practical application of what is taught, and spiritual insight, students are equipped for leadership in the family, in their community, in the church, and in the marketplace. This short course is one of the most transformational experiential learning opportunities COBA offers and is always a favorite for students that attend.
Wendy Davidson and Elise Mitchell speak to students.
A unique aspect of Leadership Summit is an opportunity for students to hear from CEO’s, inspiring speakers, and ACU faculty and staff and get to know these individuals on a personal level. “One of the speakers shared a really impactful story about facing significant troubles in the workplace as a direct result of sharing his faith,” said Lincoln Jones, a senior accounting and IS major. “His testimony encouraged me to not fear the backlash from bringing faith into the workplace.” Some of the speakers from this year include Brad Gautney, founder and president of Global Health Innovations, Rick Atchley, preaching minister at The Hills, Wendy Davidson, president of U.S. Specialty Channels Kellogg Company, Tim Goeglein, senior advisor to the president and vice president for External Relations at Focus on the Family and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison from 2001-2008 for President George W. Bush, Carlos Sepulveda, chairman of Triumph Bancorp, Inc. and former president and CEO of Interstate Batteries, Mike Willoughby, CEO of PFSweb, Inc., Elise Mitchell, founder and chair of Mitchell Communications and CEO of Dentsu Aegis PR Network, and Pete and Austin Ochs, founder/chairman and CEO, respectively, of Capital III.
Students have the chance to ask speakers questions at the end of each session.
In addition to lecture sessions, students are able to spend time talking with speakers one-on-one and share meals with them. Some of the speakers serve as mentors for a ‘River Crossing’ project, a project that challenges students to make a plan to use their given leadership positions to make a difference in the world. Taylor Gould, a junior marketing major, said that her favorite part of the experience “was simply being in Colorado and feeling connected with my professors, classmates, and the speakers. It was amazing to be able to experience all of it with people who you would never meet otherwise and people you see every day. The lessons from the week were very applicable and made me feel so inspired.” A community connection is at the core of Leadership Summit and happens at many different levels between every person – speaker or student – in attendance.
Zach Smith, Hill Holloway, and Hayden Hood swing off the side of the mountain on ‘The Screamer.’
While the week offers many moments for educational, spiritual, and community-centric transformation, the location also allows students to have a lot of fun. The class is currently held at Frontier Ranch, a YoungLife camp outside of Buena Vista, Colorado and YoungLife staff serve the Summit attendees throughout the week. Students can hike up to the crosses at the top of a mountain peak, swing off the side of a mountain on the Screamer, play archery tag, and spend time building community and fellowship in the game room. These experiences give students the chance to spend time with each other and grow in deeper connection (and also face their fears, especially if they have a fear of heights).
Students spend time in community with each other throughout the week.
Every year, students return to Abilene refreshed and challenged to make a difference in their communities and this year was no different. Mariel Delgado, a senior architecture and interior design major, shared that Summit “is not like any other business class you will ever take and the lessons you learn and friendships you make are unlike any other. Hearing everyone’s life stories from such a raw perspective but also just the fact that so many people took the time to come speak to us and pour into our lives for that week.” We look forward to watching how Mariel and all of the other students take what they have learned from the mountaintop and incorporate it into their lives to bring about change that lasts.
In the coming weeks, we will be sharing photos from the trip on our Facebook page as well as some of the speaker sessions for you to revisit and enjoy on our YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for these posts and future ones concerning the incredible and unique opportunity that is Leadership Summit.
Students hike up to the crosses at the edge of one of the ridges of Mt. Princeton.
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.
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!
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
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 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: http://blogs.acu.edu/lytlecenter/
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
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
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 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 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 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.”
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 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
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.