The Executive Leadership Council Concludes Its First International Membership Meeting In Toronto

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Informative! Inspiring! Enlightening! Entertaining! Historical! The 2015 ELC Summer General Membership Meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, Canada, was all that and more. Nearly 200 members of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and guests gathered to embrace the culture and energy of North America’s 4th largest city and explore issues about international business and global black leadership.

It was The ELC’s first membership meeting outside the U.S. The Honorable Bruce A. Heyman, who is the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, said in his welcome letter that was featured in our event program book that “Diversity is not just compatible with economic success. Diversity is success.” He was among several political leaders who welcomed our ELC members to Canada, including representatives of the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto who participated in “An Executive Conversation with The ELC” and VIP Reception at the Malaparte located at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Thursday, June 11

ELC and Foundation board members, and founding member Milton Irvin, welcomed 41 new ELC members who were inducted into the organization. They are part of the 110 new ELC members inducted into the Winter and Summer Class of 2015.

Foundation Board Director Julia M. Brown of Carnival Corporation plc and a native Canadian, moderated the opening conversation with the Honorable Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance for Ontario, and City of Toronto Councillor Michael Thompson. Having experienced both sides of the border, Julia brought the differences and similarities of the black experience into relief. Both Hunter and Thompson were impressed with the sheer visual impact of seeing so many global Black executives gathered for the meeting and remarked that Canada could learn something from what The ELC has accomplished. Thompson quoting Toronto’s motto, “Diversity is Our Strength,” remarked that his community may have to be “disruptive” to achieve “constructive” change in increasing black business and social leadership in Canada. Our partners from Calibr, a professional network of mid-to-senior level African-American executives, joined ELC members and guests for a rooftop welcome reception.

Friday, June 12

Getting down to business, during the General Business Session, ELC leaders discussed the state of the organization and plans extending into 2016, the 30th Anniversary year of The ELC. Most importantly, the ELC members voted unanimously to adopt the recommendation of the ELC and ELF Board of Directors and dissolve the 501 (c)(6) entity, and transfer all of the assets, activities and the membership to the 501 (c)(3) The Executive Leadership Foundation effective January 1, 2016. The 501(c)(3) will be renamed The Executive Leadership Council, Inc. This new construct will allow the ELC to be more efficient and effective, and will streamline financial reporting, programming and brand management.

Dr. Steven Williams, director of The ELC’s Institute for Leadership Development & Research, demonstrated a new Digital Learning Platform that will allow subscribers and Institute program participants to access current business thinking from ELC members and executive coaches. Dr. Williams also briefed members on the upcoming Leadership Development Week in August and Mid-Level Managers’ Symposium in October. In addition, the Institute is offering an ELC Associates program that will provide interested mid-level managers and professionals an opportunity to engage ELC members through the Institute’s programs and Digital Learning platform throughout the year.

ELC President and CEO Ronald C. Parker provided insight on The ELC’s strategic direction and preparations for this year’s Annual Recognition Gala on October 8 and the 30th Anniversary next year. Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. will receive the Achievement Award and Caterpillar will receive the Corporate Award. Cisco is once again the lead sponsor of the Gala, where business leaders and scholarship winners will be honored. More than 2,200 guests are expected at the Gaylord National Harbor.

Members were also updated on The ELC’s External Advocacy initiatives to support HBCUs, our Corporate Board Initiative (CBI) including upcoming events in London, Martha’s Vineyard and Miami, the Women’s Leadership Forum in Los Angeles in July and CEO Summit regional events.

Following the business meeting, two panels explored international business issues. The first panel, moderated by Council Board Chair Carla Harris of Morgan Stanley, covered an “Executive Session: Entering New Markets – Managing Deals, Mergers & Acquisitions.” Harris engaged panelists Najoh Tita-Reid of Bayer Health Care in the U.K. and Kevin Warren of Xerox Services in a lively discussion about the complexities and caveats in large scale deals. All three shared their deep experiences, providing valuable perspectives on asserting influence, engaging colleagues and considering all of the legal and regulatory issues involved.

Another panel moderated by Council Board Vice Chair Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line, explored “Managing a Globally Diverse Workforce from Multiple Seats: Leader Perspectives.” Panelists Jerri DeVard of ADT Corporation, Marc Howze of Deere & Company and Arlene Isaacs-Lowe with Moody’s Investors Service, provided personal perspectives about operating in a global business environment. Each had experienced an international assignment in their careers and had fascinating and humorous stories to tell.

In the afternoon, Dr. Marilyn Parker engaged members in a candid and confidential conversation about their business and personal experiences, encouraging members to support one another. Representatives of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, E. Ellen Maag and Elliott Stixrud, joined CBI Co-Chair Billy Dexter, also of Heidrick & Struggles, to conduct assessments of ELC members who are among the Cohort and NACD Fellows preparing for corporate board service.

Following a full day of meetings and events, ELC members gathered for a closing dinner and evening reception to network and conclude The ELC’s first-ever internationally hosted membership meeting.

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