Gathering of Eagles Symposium at Georgia Wiregrass Technical College Today

Cléa Hernandez

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Today from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Valdosta Campus of Wiregrass, the annual Gathering of Eagles Business and Leadership Symposium will celebrate its 8th year of networking and world-class speakers.

Among the guest speakers to underscore this year’s Connecting the Dots theme are Emmy winning talk show host Bill Boggs, author of Got What it Takes; motivational powerhouse Belle S. Wheelan, PhD., President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; and City of Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.

“We like to leave the entire morning for one speaker, so that person will be able to really give some hands-on training that guests can take away with them,” says Angela Crance, Special Assistant to the President of Wiregrass and organizer and founder of the Symposium. “We’re so excited to have a thought leader like Bill Boggs this year. Then we like to mix it up with some fun after lunch, and Dr. Wheelan is probably the most motivational speaker I’ve ever heard in my life. She’ll make you laugh so hard you’re crying, but her story is also tremendous.”

Attendees may recognize Mr. Boggs as host of the New York-based “Midday Live with Bill Boggs,” “NBC’s Weekend Today in New York,” and the long running Food Network hit “Bill Boggs’ Corner Table.” In addition to being a modern renaissance man, Mr. Boggs has interviewed many of the most notable personalities of our time. He will reveal an inside view of what makes the most successful people tick, and present a lessons-in-life career guide from accomplished stars at the top of their game.

Dr. Wheelan is not only the president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools -- she is also the first African American woman to serve in this capacity. Her career spans 30 years and includes the roles of faculty member, campus provost, college president, and Secretary of Education. Dr. Wheelan has received numerous awards and recognition including being named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C.

The Symposium began more than eight years ago when Crance thought to bring a nationally respected leadership development resource to Valdosta. The day’s program is always designed to facilitate professional networking, in addition to providing practical business leadership skills. With the space maxing out every year at roughly 200 attendees from 50 different business, there is a lot of networking that can happen in those eight hours. According to Crance, “it doesn’t matter how successful you are in running your own local business, when you rub elbows with someone who’s the best in the nation, you’re going to learn something from them. And a lot of people who own small local businesses don’t have the resources to travel around the country to meet these luminaries and hear their phenomenal stories.”

After the first two speakers, dynamic local business leaders will share their own stories and lessons-learned with the audience. In addition to the aforementioned Mayor John Gayle, Tom Kurrie, Partner with Coleman Talley, LLP, and Dario Orlando, Owner of Steeda Motorsports will provide insight into their successes in life and in business.“We’re proud of our local community, because we have so many incredible business leaders here,” says Crance. “They are instrumental in making this symposium so impactful for the community. Wiregrass is a technical college, but we’re also very much about business growth and workforce development.”

About Cléa Hernandez

Cléa Hernandez is a Savannah-based writer and communications specialist who serves up breaking business news for metropolitan Georgia. After earning a Philosophy degree from Fordham University, she forgot how to do everything but write and ask too many questions. So she became a journalist. Since then, Ms. Hernandez has written for local and national publications, non-profits, higher education, marketing firms, and big business. A recent escapee from the northeast hustle, the south summoned her with a whiff of collaborative innovation and authentic new enterprises.