Developing leaders

Photo by Duane Zehr

By Matt Hawkins
June 23, 2015

More than 120 Bradley alumni, faculty, students and community members discussed foundational leadership principles at the Bradley University Alumni Association’s second Leadership Summit June 11-13.

The three-day event brought together diverse perspectives to stimulate leadership growth through lectures and conversations. Those in attendance gained valuable insights from interaction with high-profile alumni speakers and faculty.

“We wanted to offer a professional development opportunity in a way that alumni and community members could learn from graduates that have had success in many different fields,” said Executive Director of Alumni Relations Tory (McCord) Jennetten '96. 

Guests heard wisdom from speakers such as NVIDIA Vice-President Tim Bender ’82, Caterpillar Vice President David Bozeman ’91, Tourette syndrome advocate and teacher Brad Cohen ’96 and advertising agency BBDO Executive Creative Director Matt MacDonald ’97. Beyond the featured speakers, breakout sessions furthered dialogue on leadership skills. 

MacDonald shared anecdotes from a pair of second-place national finishes by the Bradley speech team. The decorated squad’s championship streaks at national tournaments were interrupted MacDonald’s first two years, but the team returned to the top his junior and senior years.

“I don’t remember how we won or where people placed in events, but I remember the memories we made and the incredible close-knit group,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here if not for those experiences.”

In an addition from the inaugural 2013 summit, a group of alumni sponsored 13 students to attend the event.

“We want to take advantage of anything we can do to educate students about opportunities after graduation,” Jennetten said. “We wanted to enhance their Bradley Experience by providing opportunities to develop connections with alumni in the professional world.”

One of the students, Airin Virgilio ‘16, a communication major from Algonquin, Illinois, quickly recognized the passion of alumni for their alma mater.

“It was valuable to talk to respected professionals in a setting where we were on their level,” she said. “I realized how much the alumni loved Bradley and wanted to encourage us as we’re where they once were.”

The summit showed community member Brittany Jones new career opportunities outside Peoria and equipped her to adjust her management style as she pursues leadership positions. 

“I want to be in leadership roles, but I’ve been told I need to be more positive in those situations,” she said. “This gave me a lot of good pointers to do that.”   

Watch a highlight video here.