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A.G. Gaston Conference’s to feature cutting-edge panels

Special to The Times

The A. G. Gaston Conference, named for the iconic Birmingham businessman and in its 15th year has garnered a reputation for having quality speakers, those with significant expertise who discuss cutting edge topics.

Next month’s conference on February 12 and 13 at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex will live up to that and more. According to conference founder, Bob Dickerson, “we’ve always known that in addition to national celebrities there is value in featuring people we know, who live here and who have information that benefits our audience. I’m proud to say we’ve done it once again.”

In addition to, CNN’s Angela Rye and renowned economist Dr. Boyce Watkins, the upcoming edition of the A.G. Gaston Conference will feature University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Collat School of Business Professor Dr. Anthony Hood, who has become a conference mainstay leading his fourth panel in as many years.

Hood’s panels have been some of the more informative conference offerings over the past few years with this year’s topic “Civic Innovation.” This topic will highlight innovative strategies helping to elevate Birmingham as one of the premier cities in the nation for people to live, learn, work, play and serve.  Such initiatives include those aimed at expanding access to technology, education, healthcare, capital and economic opportunity in this great city.

Gaynelle Adams-Jackson, conference co-founder, explains that this year’s theme, a slight deviation from past years shows the event’s growth. “Throughout its history we focused on Enterprise Development and how that contributes to economic empowerment. This year, another milestone in the conference’s evolution, our focus has broadened to include discussions about African American History, Economics, Politics and Quality of Life”, said Jackson.

Following Rye’s presentation on Tuesday, February 12, Birmingham Times publisher Sam Martin will join other journalists and media professionals in a discussion which will look at the reasons black economic gain has not seemed to be on par with blacks’ ability to attain important positions in the political arena. The members of this panel include Willie Chriesman, former News Director NBC, Sherrel Stewart, WBHM, and Roy Johnson, Director of Content Development, Alabama Media Group.

Following Hood’s panel a series of speakers from some of Birmingham’s major stakeholders will share their organization’s views and initiatives detailing how those activities are part of their social responsibility to the community in which they operate. They understand how to steward natural resources, manage relationships with employees, suppliers, and customers and how leaders engage in and promote ethical behavior.

The speakers on this panel include Myla Calhoun, President of Alabama Power Foundation; Leroy Abrahams Head of Community Affairs Regions Financial Corporation; Reba Simmons, Compass Bank and Christopher Nanni, President and Chief Executive Officer Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

As always, the conference features a black history lesson with its namesake as the central figure.

“I’m always happy to talk about Gaston because even though he’s gone, what he did, how he did it and who is still carrying his legacy is important,” Dickerson said. “It has always been our goal to use this conference to empower people.  We do that by inviting those who knew Gaston to talk about the Birmingham millionaire.”

Rochelle Malone, who is granddaughter of A.G. Gaston and Frank Adams, CEO of the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club will join Dickerson to share memories, insights and stories of the great Dr. Gaston. Malone has followed in her grandfather’s footsteps by finding a need and filling it to raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. Frank Adams is a product of Western Birmingham and was a member of the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club as a child.

The A.G. Gaston Conference is also fortunate to once again feature Debra Nelson as mistress of ceremonies.  “Nelson brings an extra level of knowledge, savvy and has the knack of ensuring that the conversations bring value to the conference attendees, Dickerson said. “We are extremely happy that she’ll be joining us again” he went on to say.

The A.G. Gaston Conference strives every year to offer a variety of topics of interest to business owners, community activists, executives and all civic minded individuals.

Join us for the 15th A.G. Gaston Conference, February 12 and 13, 2019 at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex.  Register today at www.aggastonconference.biz.