The first Global Leadership Forum Summit took place April 6 at World Wide Technology. The summit's mandate was "Educate To Action."

"If we don't reach children by the age of four, we have missed our opportunity to instill excellence," said Pamela McCauley, one of the three keynote speakers, a professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida and director of its Ergonomics Laboratory. "We must engage children much earlier."

The Global Leadership Forum’s mission is “to unite and empower diverse talent to enable innovation and value creation,” and its vision is “to inspire and ignite untapped potential in the global community."

Launched in 2015,  the Global Leadership Forum’s founding partner organizations were World Wide Technology, one of the world’s largest minority-owned tech businesses; Information Technology Senior Management Forum, the only national organization dedicated exclusively to cultivating executive-level talent among black information technology professionals; Black Data Processing Associates; and Career Communications Group's Foundation for Educational Development, which promotes career opportunities in engineering, science and technology to historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Also speaking at the summit were Tassu Shervani, an endowed professor at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who is also a consultant in the areas of global strategy and organization, shareholder value, business models, innovation and business development; and Art McCoy, superintendent of the Jennings School District.

McCoy presented a working model of a STEAM curriculum (the “A” added to STEM adds Arts to the equation). He believes wholeheartedly in STEM programs and has instilled them throughout the Jennings School District. His students learn about aeronautics, robots and coding, along with the general education of post-secondary school. Three Jennings students designed and programed a drone for demonstration. McCoy said the Jennings School District is a direct beneficiary of the Global Leadership Forum and their programs.

Breakout sessions focused on STEM Education and Workforce in the Minority Community, The Future of Technology is Here, Leadership and Character Development and Creating the Next Generation Leaders, with sessions conducted by senior leaders from NPower, Deloitte, NAF and the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

The Global Leadership Forum believes that to have an educated, competitive work force, the public, private and academic sectors will need to increase the number of diverse college graduates and professionals who are prepared to meet the growing demand for workers in STEM fields.

The forum promotes programs that will produce workforce-ready, diverse talent from entry to C-level positions in the public and private sectors and foster entrepreneurialism in technology. This is achieved by jointly and strategically improving the graduation rates in STEM programs and enhancing leadership development skills. The forum works to engage students in the classroom, provide internships, scholarships and ultimately permanent employment.

David L. Steward, cofounder of World Wide Technology, ended the summit with a call to action: "A little grace matters,” Steward said, “so let's just do it everyone."

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