ALStar Youth Leadership Summit to be held Jan. 31 in Jackson

The fourth ALStar African American Youth Leadership Summit will be held Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson. The program will begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m.

The summit is sponsored by the University of Tennessee at Martin WestStar Leadership Program, Alex Beene and BlueOval City. Beene is an assistant administrator with the state of Tennessee, a UT Martin adjunct instructor and WestStar graduate.  

The ALStar Summit provides African American high school sophomores in West Tennessee with the opportunity to learn from men and women in business, including a panel of UT alumni from varying fields of study. The program will cover leadership development, soft skills needed for success and the importance of community involvement. Students will participate from 15 West Tennessee counties and 27 high schools.

“So many of our West Tennessee students start to form a rough idea of their life goals during their high school years but lack the information and encouragement to make those goals a reality,” said Beene, who is also an author and marketing research advisor with Hillard Press. “We formed this conference to provide them access to speakers who have been down their paths before and now enjoy the success many of them want to achieve.”

The summit will feature a keynote address from Tara Tansil-Gentry, faculty member, UT Martin Department of Health and Human Performance. Other guest speakers include Brandon Jones, communications director, CivicTN; Emmanuel Casem, logistics consultant, Axle Logistics; Samuel Williams, media strategist, Droga5;  Shalondria Shaw, state apprenticeship director, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and a WestStar graduate; Tyreece Miller, U.S. Marshall; Austin Ferrell, coordinator, UT Martin’s Call Me MiSTER program;  Sheronda Green, community engagement coordinator, BlueOval SK, and a WestStar graduate; Dr. Mark McCloud, vice chancellor, UT Martin Division of Access and Engagement; and Emily Johnson, vice president/chief experience officer, Community Bank, Henderson, and a WestStar graduate. Students can also visit educational booths during the summit.

For more information about the ALStar African American Youth Leadership Summit, contact Jennifer Black, WestStar program manager, at or the WestStar Leadership Program at 731-881-7298.                                                          

Photo: Dr. Mark McCloud, vice chancellor, UT Martin Division of Access and Engagement, is shown speaking at the 2023 summit and is scheduled to speak again at this year’s summit.

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