GOLD conference to shape leaders

With more than 75 clubs and organizations on Gannon University’s campus, students seem to have an abundance of leadership positions within their reach. However, not many choose to embark on that mission.

For that reason, Gannon University’s Student Government Association is hosting the first Gannon’s Ongoing Leadership Development (GOLD) Conference to encourage students to take more active roles on campus, according to Erica Rider, vice president of clubs and organizations and chair of the Leadership Development Committee hosting the conference.

The conference, which is also sponsored by the Activities Programming Board at Gannon, will start at 5 p.m. Saturday and will continue from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday the Yehl Ballroom in the Waldron Campus Center. While the deadline for applying to the conference was 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, students who wish to attend can also sign up at the door and participate in the conference on Saturday.

“We’re doing it to bring back the emphasis on leadership at Gannon,” Rider said. “We’re hoping to build the leadership community at Gannon to promote more success in the after-Gannon life.”

The GOLD conference is modeled after and inspired by a leadership conference eight students attended in Orlando, Fla., in 2012, including Nicole McAllister, a sophomore biology/pre-med major and vice president of APB.

McAllister said the students who went to Florida, and were later part of the planning committee for Gannon’s conference, were particularly influenced by a keynote speaker in the conference.

“He said that 80 percent of students on college campuses are not engaged in anything and do nothing, while the other 20 percent do everything,” McAllister said. “That really hit us and we thought it applied to Gannon’s campus as well.

“You always see the same names and the same people holding executive board positions in several different organizations while the other people on campus are not having that same exposure.”

Rider said the conference will host several keynote speakers, including Troy Stende, two alumni and staff members like Jessie Badach Hubert and Heidi Noyes.

Stende, president of Stende Inspirations, is a professional leadership and community-building leader. According to, the company presents experiential and dynamic campus programs that include student icebreakers and orientation keynotes.

McAllister said Gannon’s 1990 alumna Debra Thompson – president of Strategy Solutions and an adjunct professor at Duquesne University – will also be giving a presentation about being successful in everything they choose to do in her lecture, titled “Recipe for Success.”

McAllister also said students will participate in a social Saturday night at The Knight Club. Food will be provided throughout the conference.

The panel expects 50 to 100 students to attend the conference, McAllister said.

Danielle Ward, a sophomore business major, said she was excited to attend the conference and wished to learn a lot from it.

“I hope to gain skills that will help me become a better leader in whatever I do,” Ward said. “I think these skills are important in everyone’s activities and surroundings whether at work, school or other social situations.”

Kelly Corcoran, a sophomore occupational therapy major, said she also wanted to be better prepared to take leadership positions.

“I hope I can learn more about how I can become a better leader today and in the future,” Corcoran said. “I hope to take away new skills that I can use on campus and in my career in the future.”



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