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Attendees of the leadership conference speaking

Marietta College’s McDonough Leadership Program is ecstatic to welcome close to 100 people to campus for its annual leadership conference from March 31-April 1.

The McDonough Leadership Conference, which is in its 12th year, is a national event that brings together undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and practitioners who share a passion for leadership education and development.

The conference had been on a three-hiatus due to COVID restrictions. Dr. Alexandra Perry, Interim Dean of the McDonough Center, said the conference is shaping up to be a massive hit as the theme this year is Courageous Followership.

“Conference participants will be able to expand their knowledge of how leadership works in the 21st century through the panel presentations, workshops, roundtables, and keynote speeches,” said Perry, an Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics. “In the past decade, the field of leadership studies has turned its attention to the role and responsibilities of followers, specifically in the context of bad leadership — leaders who are either unethical or ineffective.”

Perry notes that authors such as Ira Chaleff (The Courageous Follower and Intelligent Disobedience), Barbara Kellerman (Bad Leadership), and Jean Lipman-Blumen (The Allure of Toxic Leaders) all directly implicate followers and their role in aiding and abetting bad leadership.

“The theme of this year’s McDonough Leadership Conference explores the follower’s role in the leadership process, specifically in the context of followers who need to act courageously,” Perry said.

There are two keynote speakers — Christie O’Reilly (senior producer at CNN who produces the show CNN Heroes) and Dr. John N. Gardner ’65 (founder and executive chair of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education).

O’Reilly will speak about “Behind an introverted lens: Producing something out of nothing” at Noon Friday, March 31st, in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center (DBRC). Gardner will present “College as a Laboratory Experience for Leadership and Life” at 6:00 p.m., Friday in the DBRC.

“I want to encourage the students to identify some experiences they have already had that if they were writing a memoir, they would be inclined to share so others could learn and profit from these,” Gardner said. “We will ask the future college students in the audience to do the same. Students will be given the opportunity to share some of these experiences with each other and with this larger live audience.”

On Saturday, April 1st, there will be a film screening of @GhostKingdom during lunch from 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Andrews Hall Great Room. The film was created as a one-man production by Brian Stanton, which chronicles the story of an adoptee searching for his birth family. Stanton is an actor and playwright who will be introducing the film and hosting a discussion about it.

For more information about the conference, go to