Julián Castro, three-term mayor of San Antonio, will deliver the keynote address at the Leadership Institute’s Annual Conference this week.
The conference will be held Feb. 21-22 at the LBJ Student Center. This year’s conference theme is “Leadership and Learning: Celebrating the Journey.”
Castro contacted the Leadership Institute about speaking at this year’s conference after he was unable to accept their invitation for the previous year, said Margarita Arellano, dean of students.
“We are grateful that (Castro) was just as interested as we were,” Arellano said. “He’s very invested in education and the success of young people.”
Arellano said the Leadership Institute is fortunate to have Castro as a keynote speaker because it would be unable to pay the typical appearance fee for a public figure of his caliber.
“We could not afford someone of his quality,” Arellano said. “We just get people because they love us.”
In addition to Castro, conference attendees will hear from Don McPherson, a social activist and former NFL quarterback, and Jessica Gendron Williams, CEO of Phired Up Productions, Arellano said.
The conference will feature breakout sessions and small groups led by trained student facilitators, said Ashley Runnels, Leadership Institute coordinator.
“What makes our conference unique are the small groups where (attendees) engage in activities and discussions,” Runnels said. “That’s where they brainstorm ways to apply what they’ve learned from the speakers to their lives after the conference.”
Meghan Bates, a former student facilitator, said she still refers back to the practices learned at last year’s conference.
“Everyone is at the conference to continue learning and then to pass that knowledge forward,” Bates said. “It really taught me to be proactive and engaged in making progress happen.”
Arellano said Castro’s speech will focus on a leader’s responsibility to act ethically and serve others. Castro will speak about the challenges and rewards of being in a leadership position.
“I want students to come away having learned that leadership is a life-long process,” Arellano said. “It is about service and having the passion to move to action.”