WestStar to host the 24th annual African American Leadership Conference

The University of Tennessee at Martin’s WestStar Leadership Program will host the 24th annual African American Leadership Conference from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 18, at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson. The conference connects African Americans in leadership positions and diverse work environments throughout West Tennessee.

The conference will feature speakers from private business, education and health care along with elected officials. Following 8 a.m. registration and a continental breakfast, the program includes the following:

8:20     Welcome

  • Dr. Philip Acree Cavalier, UT Martin interim chancellor
  • Dr. Charley Deal, vice chancellor, UT Martin Division of University Advancement

8:30     Keynote – Leadership

  • Tommie “TJ” Kirk, vice president, Freed-Hardeman University Office of Student Services

9:15     Blue Oval City / SK Innovation

  • Mayor Bill Rawls, Brownsville
  • Sheronda Greene, community engagement lead, Blue Oval City

9:45      What Does Readiness Look Like? Are we ready for Blue Oval City?

Panel Moderator: Evelyn Robertson, WestStar Class of 1997

  •  Mayor Julian McTzic, Bolivar
  •  Mayor Gene Bowden, Whiteville
  •  Dr. Versie Hamlett, Superintendent of Fayette County Schools, WestStar ’23
  •  Don McCorry, Executive Director, African American Chamber of Commerce, Jackson
  •  Shalondria Shaw, West Tennessee Regional Apprenticeship, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development  

10:45    Break

11:15    TCAT

  • James Farmer, career pathways coordinator, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Jackson

11:45    Lunch

12:30    Real Estate and Planning

  • Brenda DePriest, associate, RE/MAX Realty
  • Shelton Merrell, regional planner/RPO coordinator, Southwest Tennessee Development District

1:15     Mental Health 

  • Shelia Dieringer, West Tennessee Healthcare

Register for the conference at www.utm.edu/weststar. Registration is $40 per person and should be completed by April 12. For more information, contact Virginia Grimes, assistant director of the WestStar Leadership Program, at 731-881-7787 or vgrimes@utm.edu.

The conference is made possible by WestStar in partnership with the City of Brownsville, Conner Real Estate, Mark Heaston in memory of Ruby Heaston, Mary Jones in memory of Ina Yarbrough, Jonah Housing Authority, TRANE of West Tennessee and the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service.


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