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The Defining the Future Leadership Conference is Oct. 5 and 6 at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery. The Alabama Community Leadership Network and the Alabama Communities of Excellence, will serve as hosts for the conference.

This year's conference theme is "Developing Leaders, Building Strong Communities."

"The ACLN conference provides valuable information to business and community leaders, state and local officials, university professionals, nonprofit executives, economic and community developers, chamber of commerce members, community and regional planners and individuals interested in improving leadership in their communities," says Arturo Menefee, and Extension specialist and director of the conference.

Keynote speakers include Thom Gossom Jr., Charles Barkley and Carol Johnson.

Gossom is president of Best Gurl Entertainment, and is an actor, writer and producer. An Auburn University graduate, Gossom was an outstanding football player at Auburn University and in 1975 was the first African-American athlete to graduate. He has acted in more than a dozen films and more than 75 episodes of television.

Barkley, who played his college basketball at Auburn University, was one of the National Basketball Association's most colorful characters during his 16-year career. He was one of only four players to have a record of more than 23,000 points, 12,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. He is also an author, sports commentator and private philanthropist.

Johnson is the founder of Continuous Dialog, a professional consulting company specializing in sales training. Private and public organizations have realized tremendous success and return on investments from Continuous Dialog's proven methods, practical skills and commitment to application. Johnson's finance and marketing skills were developed at General Foods in New York. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts in marketing from Florida State University and a Masters in Business Administration from Indiana University.

Sixteen workshops will fall into four educational tracks: Developing Youth Leaders; Enhancing Skills for Success; Addressing Community Issues; and Building on Best Practices. Workshops in the first track include topics such as starting and sustaining a student leadership conference, youth debate program, youth in city government and youth legislature, and youth entrepreneurship. Workshops included in the second track are grant writing, conflict resolution, media training and leadership DISC assessment. Third track workshops include dropout prevention in Alabama, strategies for ending poverty, rural health, and a difference one tree makes. The last track's workshops include the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program, building a community garden, ACE Communities of Excellence best practices and digital storytelling.

Registration is $175 for professionals and $125 for students. Deadline for registration is Sept. 29. To register online, visit Make checks payable to Auburn University and mail to OPCE – Attn: John Freeze, 301 O.D. Smith Hall, Auburn, AL 36849.

The Alabama Community Leadership Network is a group of organizations and individuals committed to building, supporting and enhancing community leadership programs. It equips leaders with necessary skills to better local communities in Alabama. The network consists of community leadership programs for adult and youth, nonprofits, universities, government agencies and private entities throughout the state.

For more information, contact Ann Woodsmall, at ACLN (334) 844-5332 or by e-mail at, or Stacey Bryan at ACE (866) 557-0007 or



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