Spring 2024 Student Leadership Conference

March 8, 2024 ♦ 9:00AM (8:15 registration) - 3:00 PM ♦ MGA Arts Complex Theatre

The MGA Student Leadership Conference is a free event for current students to network and connect with other students interested in developing as leaders.  The conference will help you develop skills necessary for student leadership positions on campus, and professional and community leadership roles by participating in sessions that introduce new ideas, challenge ways of thinking, and empower you to make a difference

Registration for the spring 2024 Student Leadership Conference is now open! To register just click here or on the button to the right of the page.

2024 Keynote Speaker:

For spring 2024 the conference will take place on March 8, 2024 from 9:00AM to 3:00 PM (registration starts at 8:15 AM) at the Macon campus Art Complex. This year's conference theme is "Learn Your Leadership Language" and the focus is on helping students identify and define their individual leadership style. All students are a part of the MGA community and by attending this conference, you will develop a greater sense of how to contribute as an active member of the university and in the world around you. Transportation will be provided for Cochran and Eastman students, leaving from Sanford Hall in Cochran at 7:30AM.

Kipp ColvinThe keynote speaker for the 2024 Student Leadership Conference will be Kipp Colvin. Kipp believes everyone can be a leader whether they know it now or not. It starts with the courage to show up. Make no mistake; leading with courage is not easy.

In this presentation, Kipp asks five simple questions to jump-start the conversation with students on how to share their leadership stories. He will empower students to connect their values with what truly matters to them. Participants leave the room empowered and energized to step forward as leaders with courage and authenticity.

As a result of attending the program, students will:

  • Understand their “Why” and connect to their courage to lead with purpose,
  • Examine five critical questions in developing a “leadership story” to inspire others,
  • Determine what values really mean and how they appear in our daily actions and decisions.

2024 Break-out Session Descriptions:


Discovering Your Resilient Leadership - Kipp Colvin

Finding Your True Color - Jennifer Shinpaugh

True Colors is a personality profiling application developed to compliment the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and offers a simpler way to understand the personality behind your actions and decisions. Participants in this session will take a quick assessment and then we will discuss what makes us Blue, Green, Orange, or Gold along with how these personality types can influence the way someone leads. Participation is key and there will be some group discussion.

 Presenter Bio: Jenni Shinpaugh has over 2 decades of experience with student leadership on college campuses across the country. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. Jenni is a trained Strengths Quest facilitator and has worked with various personality profiling applications during her time in Student Affairs. She lives in Hawkinsville with her husband and three rescue Chihuahuas.

 Setting High Impact Goals for Leadership Development - Kate Petty

This interactive workshop guides students through a process to thoughtfully develop and achieve goals that will make a tangible, positive difference in their lives during the next year. With a focus on setting goals that intentionally establish a connection between the student’s leadership philosophy and their leadership experiences, student participants will leave the workshop with a roadmap for the next steps in their leadership journey. Whether students are freshmen or seniors, this differentiated workshop is beneficial for student leaders at any stage. Established student leaders will develop goals regarding experiences that support their current leadership philosophy, and aspiring student leaders will develop goals to craft a leadership philosophy and identify supporting future experiences. They will establish a plan to achieve their goals with an understanding of how that achievement connects to their growth and leadership development. 

 At the conclusion of this workshop, student leaders will be able to:

  1. Articulate a connection between their leadership philosophy and student experiences
  2. Identify educational, professional, or personal goals based on their leadership philosophy
  3. Describe how they will achieve the goals they have set.

 Presenter Bio: Kate Petty is the Director of Alumni & Constituent Engagement at the University of West Georgia (UWG). Kate earned her AA in Secondary Education from Middle Georgia State University in 2006, her BA in English with Secondary Education certification from UWG in 2009, and her MEd in Higher Education Administration from Georgia Southern University in 2016. She is currently pursuing an EdD in Higher Education Administration at UWG where she is researching burnout and turnover among women working in higher education. She has previously served as President of the Georgia Undergraduate Research Collective, and she currently serves as Events Committee Chair for the Middle Georgia State University Alumni Board. She is also a member of the UWG Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Board. Kate is an educator and life-long learner who enjoys working with students and alumni as they engage with their universities. She is passionate about women's leadership and goal-setting.

Embracing the Infinite (Inspired by Simon Sinek) - Dr. Marc Miller & Dr. Winfield Tufts

This workshop will introduce and explore the core concepts of Simon Sinek's "The Infinite Game," and examine how to apply these principles to foster a more innovative, resilient, and adaptable mindset in professional settings.

Benefits of the Workshop:

  • Improved leadership and team-building skills.
  • Insight into leading in ways that foster a more innovative and cooperative organizational culture.
  • Greater adaptability and resilience in facing challenges.
  • Enhanced understanding of long-term vs. short-term strategies in business.

 Presenters Bios: Dr. Miller is a Professor and Dean of the School of Business at Middle Georgia State University since July 2022. Prior to this appointment, he was the Dean of the School of Business at Henderson State University and Dean of the Hull College of Business at Augusta University. His research examines the intersection of technology acceptance and learning models and remains an active researcher and instructor in the area of Innovation and Technology Management. Dean Miller received his PhD from Auburn University and holds additional graduate degrees from Louisiana State University and Augusta University.  He is a student of Leadership and is constantly striving to become a better leader.

 Dr. Tufts has a long professional career serving the U.S. Air Force:  military, civilian, and contractor.  He retired for the Air Force as a Colonel. He has served at Middle Georgia State University since 2018, first as adjunct faculty and as full-time faculty beginning in 2022. Dr. Tufts has Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Master of Arts and PhD degrees in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. He is passionate about passing on leadership lessons to the next generation of emerging leaders!

 Inspiring Others to Act - Jessica Arnold

There is a popular formula I taught while VP Store Manager of Macy's that is highly effective when done properly to motivate other leaders, subordinates to act, elevate their behavior to drive results.  It's Acronym is PACT- Prepare, Ask Questions, Collaborate on a Plan, Take Action.  Over the course of this session I will discuss how the use of a tool like PACT helped me develop my leadership philosophy and how that philosophy evolved along the way as I began leading a team of 5, then 30, then 150 (with 12 leaders).

 Presenter Bio: Jessica graduated with Bachelor's degree in Public Relations from GA State University. She was a VP Store Manager for Macy's for 15 years and worked as a Legal Assistant for an International Attorney. Currently she is the International Student Coordinator for MGA, a position she’s been in for 8 months.


Leadership & Metacognition: Understanding How You Learn Will Help You Lead - Dr. Kelly Causey

In this session, "Metacognition and Leadership: Understanding How You Learn Will Help You Lead," students will discuss metacognition and various learning styles. Students will participate in short individual and group activities, assessments, and inventories to identify their own learning styles and strengths.  We will discuss the needs of learners with different learning styles, and how leaders can accommodate those needs to help their team members be successful.  Participants will receive information about several free tools and resources about metacognition, learning styles, personality types, and leadership.  This will be a fun, interactive, discussion-based session!

 Presenter bio: Dr. Kelly Causey is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Middle Georgia State University. In her 31st year as an educator, she earned her Bachelor's Degree at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana in Elementary Education with a Kindergarten Endorsement.  She began her teaching career in the Bibb County School District at Sonny Carter Elementary School.  During her time as an elementary teacher, she earned her Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville.  She became an Assistant Principal and then a Principal in Bibb County, serving at Sonny Carter Elementary, Bernd Elementary, and Jones Elementary.   After the birth of her twins, she took a short break from working in the school system to be at home with them and complete her doctoral work at the University of Georgia in Athens where she earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership.  Dr. Causey worked as an adjunct professor at both Wesleyan College and the University of Georgia before taking a position at an independent school as a Curriculum and Technology Integration Specialist.  Dr. Causey eventually became the Head of Preschool, PK-12 Curriculum Coordinator, and finally the Head of Lower School at Stratford Academy in Macon before joining the faculty at MGA.

Communicating Leadership - Angela Landers

As Brene Brown says in her book Daring to Lead, “clear is kind.” Beyond clarity being kind, it is absolutely necessary for leaders to use clarity if they want to be effective in creating and maintaining relationships and accomplishing the organization’s mission. Without clear communication, organizations can be unsuccessful in achieving goals, and morale can suffer amongst the group. 

 Despite the importance of foundational communication skills, some leaders may not be taught these vital tools. Others may struggle to understand the true value and power of these skills. Some may learn these skills only to be apprehensive to use them in group settings or in 1:1 meetings. The focus of this presentation is to bridge the gap between what we know about leadership communication and what we do and say as leaders. Another focus? To increase self-awareness of one’s communication style, fears, and competencies.

 Presenter Bio: Angela Landers is a Leadership and Institutional Development Specialist for the University System of Georgia's office of Leadership and Institutional Development. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Psychology from Georgia Southern University.

Knights Leading Under Pressure - Kessiny Neal

As a student leader we take on many roles and sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. If we fail to take care of ourselves, how can we effectively lead our team. Join me for a discussion about how to effectively lead while still being a student and facing everyday challenges. We will discuss how to delegate, how to increase self-care, and how to avoid burnout. As an alumni and someone who was a student leader, I know first-hand how hard it is to be a leader while also having a personal life.

 Presenter Bio: Kessiny Neal is a Residence Life Coordinator at Middle Georgia State University. She worked in Residence Life for the last 3.5 yrs. Recently, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 2022 and has since been dedicated to fostering a vibrant and supportive community within the university's residential halls. Her nickname in the residence halls is Fairy Dorm Mother.

During her time as a student, Kessiny was deeply involved in various student organizations, showcasing her passion for leadership and community engagement. She served as the Student Government Vice President, where she advocated for student needs and worked closely with the administration to implement positive changes on campus. As the President of the Campus Activities Board, she orchestrated numerous events and activities to enhance student life and promote a sense of belonging. She was also a member of the President's Torch Society.

Additionally, Kessiny excelled as a Resident Assistant, providing guidance and support to her peers while fostering a safe and inclusive living environment. This allowed her to move up the ranks and become a Residence Life Coordinator. Her commitment to academic excellence led her to serve as a tutor in the Mathematics Academic Resource Center, where she helped her fellow students navigate complex mathematical concepts with patience and expertise.

Beyond her roles in student government and residence life, Kessiny also served as a Knights Lead Ambassador and Emerging Leaders Ambassador, empowering her peers to develop their leadership skills and make meaningful contributions to the university community.

Leadership & Communication Styles: Their Effect on Group Climate - Dr. Claire Joa

There are different types of leaders who can influence the behavior and attitudes of others through communication. Leadership can also impact interpersonal connections between group members. It is important to understand how each type of leadership gains the ability to influence others. In this presentation, two ways of thinking about effective leadership will be explored: leadership as style and leadership as communication competence. Research has identified three primary styles of leaders according to their patterns of communicative behaviors exhibited in groups: democratic, laissez-faire, and autocratic. In the presentation, the implications of studying and utilizing such different leadership styles will be discussed.

During the presentation, participants will engage in activities to apply presentation content. One of these activities involves assessing which types of power you typically use during small-group interactions. Additionally, participants will practice generating appropriate discussion questions that can help build healthy group climate effectively. These activities will help the participants identify their communication leadership styles, and practice group problem-solving through communication.

Presenter Bio: Dr. Claire Joa is an Assistant Professor of Public Relations at Middle Georgia State University. Her research interests are focused on studying information flow and behavioral contagion in social networks, as well as exploring the applications of network knowledge in strategic communication. She also enjoys thinking about how to use new information and communication technology for learning and health promotion. Currently, she teaches courses in Human Communications, Social Media Communications, and Public Relations.

What Does It Really Mean To Lead? - Isaac Ramsingh

Leadership is something that everyone thinks they understand. Leadership can tend to take on a cookie cutter definition, a one-size-fits-all kind of rhetoric. But beyond the definition of leadership, what does it really mean to lead in a world that can be volatile and ambiguous? Let's talk about what effective and impactful leadership in our new collective space can look like, what mindsets are needed, and what tools and skills require proficiency on our part, as leaders. We are all leaders. Let's talk about what that really means.

Conference Hints & Tips:

The conference is also a great opportunity for students to get an early taste of what to expect from a professional conference once they are in the workforce. If you are a student and this is going to be your first conference, here is some advice on how to get the most out of it!

  • Review the schedule - find out the topics of the break-out sessions and plan your day in advance so you can attend the sessions you think you will enjoy most.
  • Dress professionally but comfortably, in other words, "business casual" - this is a networking opportunity so you want to make a good impression. If you're not sure what "business casual" means, level 4 in this article's infographic will give you a good idea of what it is: How to dress like a leader in any work environment
  • Take notes - this will help you retain important information, document ideas the presentation might inspire in you, and it's essential to help you divide and conquer. Speaking of...
  • Divide and conquer - if you're with a group split up and go to different sessions. That way you can share what you've learned with each other after the conference.
  • Meet new people - breakfast and lunch will be provided. Take those opportunities to meet someone new! If you go to a breakout session that you really like, take a moment to meet the presenter, tell them you enjoyed their presentation and, if they are willing, get their contact information to follow up later.
  • Get 3 ideas - try to come up with 3 key takeaways for each session you attend. After the conference take some time to think about how these can help you become a better leader, a better professional, and a better member of your communities.
  • Silence your phone - avoid the possibility of causing an interruption and throwing other audience members (or worse, the presenter) off track.
And finally...
  • Act professionally - the other attendees of the conference could be future co-workers, supervisors, or industry colleagues, be thoughtful about how your actions my impact their perception of you.


2023 Sessions