CSU’s Leadership Institute Announces Speakers and Format for The Forum 2020, August 24-25

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

For the 15th year, The Forum, hosted by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, will bring a lineup of the best and brightest minds in the world to Columbus. The two-day event, held at the Columbus Iron Works and Convention Center, begins at 1 p.m., Monday, Aug. 24 and runs through Tuesday, Aug. 25. This year’s event theme is “Leadership in Hindsight.” 

“We chose this theme because of the many ways you can approach it,” said Jessica Drake, director of The Forum. “We hope to explore the notion of failed leadership and the idea that hindsight is truly 2020. We plan to look to the future and discover what lies on the leadership horizon. It’s also an Olympic year, which allows us to entertain passing the leadership torch and preparing the future workforce.”

The 2020 event marks The Forum’s 15th anniversary. What began as an on-campus event with four speakers has grown into one of the largest gathering of business and civic leaders in Georgia. While attendees will still hear from the same number and caliber of speakers they’ve grown accustomed to, some aspects of the event format have changed. 

“As we began planning this year’s forum, we reminisced on the event over the years, said Shana Young, assistant vice president of Leadership Development and executive director of the Leadership Institute. “We invited sponsors, attendees and community leaders to focus groups to give feedback about the event and why they have—or have not—attended. From a logistics standpoint, we took a look at what has worked well, what needed to be tweaked and ideas and options we’ve considered but not yet implemented,” Young said.

As in past years, the event will begin at 1 pm, Monday, August 24. Frank Abagnale, cybersecurity and fraud prevention expert, best-selling author and subject of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film, Catch Me If You Can, will open the event.

The biggest changes will come with the Monday keynote and evening dinner. The keynote speaker will take the stage at 5 pm, up from 8 pm in previous years. At the conclusion of the address, attendees will head to dinner at a dine around throughout Uptown Columbus. Through agreements with local restaurant owners, attendees will present meal vouchers at one of the partner locations. Certain restaurants will require a reservation while others will be available for walk-ups. 

“We have worked with the restaurants in Uptown to increase the event’s footprint,” said Drake. “We want to show off all they have to offer and we weren’t able to do that with the old format.”

On Tuesday, August 25, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital, and best-selling author, will kick the day off at 9 am. This start time is later than past years. The later start will give local attendees the chance to drop their school-aged children at school before heading to the event. 

“This change comes from feedback received during the focus groups,” said Young. “We plan to offer a private breakfast with remarks from Jim Blanchard for those attendees who still want to come early.”

The remainder of Tuesday will continue as usual and includes a buffet lunch in South Hall. The event will close with Kat Cole, Chief Operating Officer and President, North America, FOCUS Brands. In addition to book signing opportunities, event directors have also negotiated special events with all three named speakers. 

“We are in the beginning stages of planning these events,” said Drake. “Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase these special event tickets, separate from the price of event admission.”

For the seventh year, faculty, staff and students currently enrolled with a valid CSU or Columbus Tech ID can watch the event live via simulcast from the University Hall Auditorium. 

“Columbus State University has a great presence in Uptown Columbus. We are excited for the amazing opportunity to show off Columbus and the communiversity we’ve created,” said Dr. Chris Markwood, President, Columbus State University.

Event tickets, tables and sponsorships are now available.  For more information, visit TheFourm.ColumbusState.edu.