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.”
The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development hosted Brett Biggs, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on October 25th, as the speaker at COBA’s annual Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon.
Brett Biggs, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Biggs is responsible for accounting and control, corporate strategy and development, business planning and analysis, internal auditing, treasury, tax, global shared services and several other key areas of the company. Before being appointed to his current role, Biggs was executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart International, where he was responsible for all global finance activities, including accounting and controls, business planning and analysis, financial services, and support for real estate, M&A and Strategy. Prior to that, Brett served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart U.S., where he was responsible for U.S. finance functions including strategy, merchandising, logistics, financial services, real estate, operations, and financial planning and analysis.
Biggs began his visit to ACU with a Q&A meeting with approximately 30 COBA students. The students had unfettered access to ask Biggs questions about his career path, how Walmart works and his best advice on how to jump start their own careers. After the private gathering with students, he then addressed the luncheon crowd of about 200 guests, talking to them about Walmart’s corporate philosophy as well as his own beliefs on what it means to be a Christian leader in the workplace.
Mr. Biggs meeting with COBA students
Biggs stated that the “Joy of working at Walmart is that it is a company that stands for things: take care of your people, do your best, and take care of the people that come through your door.” Biggs also said that he believes, “The world needs places that stand for something. I love ACU’s mission. If you can combine your passion and your vocation with your mission, that’s where it’s at. Sometimes being a person of faith is tough. You have to stand your ground when others around you aren’t. Rosa Parks said it well when she said, ‘Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.’ Matt 5:14 says, ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.’ I know that’s what this university is about and I appreciate that.”
Biggs also gave a personal anecdote when he told a story about meeting Sam Walton, who he described as a once in a lifetime kind of man and the greatest entrepreneur of all time. Biggs said that he met Walton on a field trip in college. Biggs happened to be carrying around a very big notebook while studying for the CPA exam. Sam Walton asked what the book was for and Biggs explained to him that he was intensely studying for the exam. Walton then told him that, “If you study hard and work hard you never know what you’ll be able to achieve.” Biggs said that today, his office is next door to Sam Walton’s former office.
Biggs encouraged students to find a company that fits your values, to be intentional about your faith and to stay grounded and focused on your faith. He also exhorted the audience to know who you are before you are faced with big decisions. He stated, “You have to know what you would do and make a choice ahead of time. You have to really know who you are. Students, take advantage of your time here and form that person now. Take advantage of all the spiritual opportunities you have here.”
Mr. Biggs meeting with COBA Faculty
Biggs wrapped his trip to ACU up with a private meeting with some of COBA’s faculty, where they discussed current markets and opportunities for students. COBA would like to thank Brett Biggs for so graciously giving of his time and energy to our students, faculty, staff and community.
For pictures from the event, please click on this link for COBA’s FaceBook page.
COBA seeks to provide opportunities for the students and community to hear from Christian leaders in the business world through our COBA Distinguished Speaker Series. In the past few years, we’ve featured Bob McDonald, Mike Duke, and Matt Rose. This October, we’re excited to host Lisa Rose, founder and president of the 501(c)(3) projectHandUp, as COBA’s fall 2015 Distinguished Speaker.
Lisa’s mission is to provide venues where people can find their purpose and learn to fulfill it. After growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas, and receiving a degree in Marketing from Texas Tech University, her time in corporate life was in fast-food marketing. She has spent the last 20 years in church women’s ministry leading and equipping women through classes, studies and events. She has served on GRACE’s Advisory Council and at the Dallas County Jail. Lisa currently serves as board member for the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Performing Arts Fort Worth, United Way Homelessness Allocations Committee and was the 2015 Golden Deeds Outstanding Citizen of the Year. She founded First Friday, an event for women, in 2008, and is now committed to the lifelong project of establishing The Gatehouse as a community where women and children in crisis participate in a place and program for permanent change.
Ribbon cutting ceremony for The Gatehouse
Lisa Rose is also the founder and Board President of The Gatehouse at Grapevine. The Gatehouse is a $28 million, 61-acre supportive living community designed for women in crisis and their children. The Gatehouse website explains that the community will house up to 96 families and includes a community/conference center, in-neighborhood counseling centers, Keeps Boutique, Hope Chapel, general store, walking trails and commercial space.
This community, which allows members to stay up to 2½ years depending on their individually tailored program, provides safe refuge and creates the environment for women and children in crisis to walk the path toward permanent change.
The Gatehouse community
The idea for The Gatehouse sprung up in part from the First Friday initiative which began in 2008, when Lisa and a group of women began a free, once-a-month experience to give women a practical hand up for life’s challenges. The First Friday experience transformed into the nonprofit projectHandUp, through which the founding leaders could create a way to offer women a hand up that would lead to permanent, positive change: a place where women could be healed and restored as they end needless cycles of poverty, abuse and repetitive prison terms.
At that same time, Deborah Lyons, Executive Director at The Gatehouse in Grapevine, had envisioned a fully integrated, non-government funded supportive community for women in crisis. God brought the two women together, and Deborah joined the journey with projectHandUp. Deborah also is the author of the faith-based Independent Life Program used at The Gatehouse.
In August 2012, projectHandUp purchased 61 acres outside DFW Airport with unanimous Grapevine City Council approval, and the stepping stones were laid for The Gatehouse, a supportive living community where women and their children in crisis can discover a new path for permanent change. The Gatehouse opened in March of 2015.
Join us on October 29th for the Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon beginning at 11:45 am in the Hunter Welcome Center. COBA is providing the opportunity for 100 ACU students to attend the event for free by registering here. General Admission tickets are $20 and may be purchased at this link. If you have questions about the event, please email M.C. Jennings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about The Gatehouse at this link from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
View the grand opening of The Gatehouse by clicking here.
*Information about The Gatehouse provided in this blog comes directly from The Gatehouse website. Visit their website by clicking this link.
Purchase tickets to the event by clicking on this link.
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
On March 26th, Mark W. Albers, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation, will be visiting ACU as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series. Mark joined the company in 1979 and has worked numerous positions, including managerial positions in development, operations, and engineering. He has also worked in Melbourne, Australia as a technical manager and operations manager. In 2001, he became the vice president, Africa, Chad/Nigeria for the ExxonMobil Development Company in Houston. Albers has served as executive assistant to the chairman of Exxon Mobil Corporation at headquarters in Irving, TX. After this position, he then became the president of ExxonMobil Development Company in October of 2004. In April 2007, Mark was named the senior vice president of the company in Houston.
Albers is a member of the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Council of International Business, the Texas A&M Engineering Advisory Council, the Society of Petroleum Engineers Industry Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.
Mark was born in Calgary, Canada and later moved to Houston. He grew up around the oil and gas industry and pursued this field of study at Texas A&M, graduating in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. Today, he works with different governments in influencing them to allow Exxon to come in and work, explore, develop, and produce in those countries. Mark and his wife, Cindy, currently live in The Woodlands, Texas.
Albers highly believes in the value of faith in the marketplace. He states that his faith has been the strong foundation that has built his career and the man he is today. COBA looks forward to hosting him next week. There are less than 50 tickets left for the event. Visit the COBA website to learn more and purchase tickets to the luncheon at www.acu.edu/coba.
COBA was proud to host the legendary world class Olympic Gold medalist Earl Young. Mr. Young spoke to COBA students at a COBA Career Connect session on October 9. Earl’s list of accomplishments and accolades is quite remarkable on the track field and in the business field. Earl was brought to ACU by track coach Oliver Jackson from the orange trees of the San Fernando Valley in California. At the age of 19, he was a member of the 1960 United States Olympic Track and Field Team, winning a Gold Medal in the 1600 meter relay while also setting a new World and Olympic record. He is an All-American in Track and Field and participated on numerous international teams establishing four World records and four American records. Earl Young attended ACU and graduated with an undergraduate degree in Business along with History and Religion and graduate studies in Business Management.
Earl also shines in the field of business. Mr. Young has served in the role of Advisor, Corporate Officer and Director of companies in the United States and abroad. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies and Investment Banking firms in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, and London. He has also worked with the World Bank and U.S. senators and congressmen. One of the organizations he has worked with is the Madagascar World Voice, a philanthropic organization partnering with World Christian Broadcasting to broadcast news, education, and entertainment with the fundamental message of hope and freedom to over 2 billion listeners throughout the world. Earl’s connections in Madagascar started the process of a scholarship funded by the World Bank for ACU students who are from the Republic of Madagascar.
Mr. Young’s resume also includes work with the Diamond Fields International Ltd., Earl Young and Associates, Renaissance Capital Group, AMI Investment Corporation, and Chafin and Young. Mr. Young is a member of the Abilene Christian University Council and a Director of the American Studies Institute Advisory Board of Harding University.
Earl is truly the definition of an exceptional performer in all aspects of life. Earl told students how he used to doubt all of the talk about God’s direct provision and intervention in people’s lives. Looking back on his life, he now sees how God was the sole reason for all of his opportunities and achievements. His gold medal in the 1960 Olympics has opened many doors for him throughout his life time. Earl encouraged students to think about their own gold medal and what achievements and blessings in their lives they have that will open the numerous doors for them. ACU and COBA are proud to recognize Mr. Young as an ambassador for God through his actions and achievements throughout the world. Earl currently lives in Dallas and continues to exemplify the faith-based truth that with God, all things are possible.
“Once the door of opportunity has been opened for you, you have to have value to offer before the door closes. Embrace every opportunity or that door will close too quickly.”
Earl Young addresses students at COBA’s Career Connect
“The workforce is looking for hard working Christians with integrity. With all of the high pressures in business, honesty is such a valuable characteristic for businesses today.”