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    Event Information

    What is the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum?

    Founded in 2005, the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, hosted by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, is the premier leadership event in the region and offers an intimate setting with some of the world‘s foremost leaders. Held annually the last Monday and Tuesday in August, the event draws more than 1,200 attendees. The Forum is named in honor of Jim Blanchard, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Synovus Financial Corp., which is headquartered in Columbus. His vision was to bring the best and brightest minds in the world to Columbus, Georgia.

    When will the 2017 Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum be held?

    The event will be Monday-Tuesday, August 28-29, at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

    Where can I find additional information about the event?

    Please visit JBLF.org


    Do I need a ticket?

    Yes. Only those with tickets are permitted. You must show a ticket for each part of the event (navy for Monday afternoon, red for Monday night and light blue for Tuesday). Table numbers are on the tickets, so please keep it with you at all times for seating and security.

    How do I purchase tickets for the event?

    Tickets are available for purchase at JBLF.org

    Is there a multi-ticket discount?

    There is a small discount if you purchase a table of 8.

    Is there a discount for college students, military, senior citizens, etc.?


    When will I receive my ticket?

    If you are an individual purchaser, your ticket will be at Will Call by last name the day of the event. If your company purchased a table, you should have received an email asking about your Will Call preferences.

    Do you offer refunds for tickets purchased?

    No, tickets are non-refundable but are transferrable. We have divided the event into three parts: Monday afternoon, Monday night and Tuesday. Each part is color coded and labeled on the ticket (navy for Monday afternoon, red for Monday night and light blue for Tuesday). This allows an attendee to transfer tickets to another person. Note: you must show a ticket for each part at the door for admission.

    I purchased a ticket and am unable to attend. May transfer my ticket?

    Yes, you may give your ticket to someone if you are unable to attend. We have divided the event into three parts: Monday afternoon, Monday night and Tuesday. Each part is color coded and labeled on the ticket (navy for Monday afternoon, red for Monday night and light blue for Tuesday). This allows an attendee to transfer tickets to another person. Note: you must show a ticket for each part at the door for admission.

    Do I have reserved seating?

    Yes, your ticket will have a table number on it.

    How will I know where to sit?

    Your ticket will have your table number on it. You must sit at your assigned table, as there are no extra seats available. If you enter after the program has begun, please go to your assigned table. There is no open seating.

    Are children allowed?

    It is not recommended that children under 13 attend this event.

    Before The Event

    What is the dress code?

    Business attire is recommended.

    Is the venue typically warm or cool?

    With the production elements and number of attendees, the event space tends to be cool. We suggest that you bring a jacket to use as needed.

    Will there be nametags?

    We will have paper nametags available, but you are encouraged to wear your company or business name badge.

    When should I arrive at the venue?

    Registration opens Monday at 12 pm and the program begins at 1 pm.

    Is valet parking available?

    Valet parking is available in partnership with AT&T. Cars may be dropped off at the front entrance of the Trade Center.

    What if I want to self-park?

    Self-parking is available in the Trade Center parking deck. The facility has wheelchairs available for those who have difficulty walking, as the facility is quite large.

    Is the event handicap accessible?

    The facility has ramps and wheelchairs are available through the Trade Center office if you have difficulty walking. The facility is quite large and there can be a lot of walking to and from the banquet room.

    Is there an event app?

    Yes, there is an app available through Google and Apple stores. The free app is available by searching for “Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum.” We encourage you to download the app in advance to receive real-time agenda updates and special notifications.

    During the Event

    Is there a security screening?

    You may be subject to a screening process. You should maintain possession of your ticket at all times for security reasons.

    Are cameras and recording devices allowed during the presentations?

    Flash photography and recording devices are not allowed, per speaker contracts.

    Will there be Internet available?

    Wi-Fi is available through the Trade Center office for $10. Otherwise, Internet access will be available through your mobile carrier and device.

    Is the event on social media?

    Yes! The event has Facebook and Instagram pages. The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. We encourage participants to engage through social media throughout the conference.

    What is the event hashtag?


    What if I have a dietary restriction?

    There will be a dietary restrictions card available at Will Call in the main lobby. Please place the card in front of your plate so the servers will be aware. Breakfast and lunch are buffets with a variety of options.

    Will there be book signings?

    Yes. Please consult your program at the event for a listing of specific authors and times.

    What forms of payment do the book sellers accept?

    Cash, check, credit and debit cards.

    Are there opportunities to purchase DVDs?

    Unfortunately not. Speaker contracts do not allow recording for resale.

    After the Event

    Can I get Continuing Education credits?

    Yes, we will send you a certificate with the hours of credit that you have earned through your attendance after the forum.

    Will I have the opportunity to give feedback and suggest future speakers?

    Yes! After the event, we will send surveys to all attendees.

    When will I be able to register for the 2018 event?

    Ticket sales for 2018 will go on sale at the end of the 2017 forum.

    Contact Information

    Office: 706-569-3054
    Website: jblf.columbusstate.edu
    Email: jblf@columbusstate.edu

    All questions relating to sponsorship opportunities or media relations:
    Jessica Drake 706-569-3054 | drake_jessica@columbusstate.edu

    Since its creation in 2006, the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, hosted annually by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, has been successful in fulfilling the vision of bringing the best and brightest minds in the world to Columbus. From its beginnings as an on-campus event with four speakers, the forum has grown into the single largest gathering of business and civic leaders in Georgia.

    History In The Making

    At his pending retirement, James Blanchard, then chairman and CEO of Synovus Financial Corp., had a vision to bring the best and brightest minds to Columbus. In 2005, the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum was established and Blanchard’s vision became the “marching orders” for the Cunningham Center team.

    The inaugural event was hosted on CSU’s main campus and featured four speakers and 300 attendees. The team quickly realized the demand required a much larger venue and moved the forum to its current location, the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

    Past speakers include Zell Miller, Newt Gingrich, Dan Cathy, Thomas Freedman, George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Randall Stephenson, Condoleezza Rice, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Mark Cuban, Sara Blakeley, Sheryl Sandberg, Colin Powell, Dan Amos, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and Alan Mulally, among others.

    As the event grew in popularity and caliber, the team looked for ways to incorporate the students in the experience. In 2014, they began partnering with CSU’s Student Affairs to host a remote simulcast for current and prospective students.

    Continued Success

    The tenth anniversary forum, held August 24-25, 2015, hosted 13 speakers and 1,250 attendees. The Bush family was Monday night’s keynote speakers. The event, themed “Leadership Legacy,” brought back favorite speakers from past forums, including John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard and Daniel Pink, and introduced new speakers Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon Sinek and General Stanley McChrystal, among others.

    Looking Toward the Future

    The 2017 Forum is slated for Monday-Tuesday, August 28-29, 2017. Academy Award-Winning Actress Octavia Spencer is the 2017 keynote speaker. Other guest speakers include Ron Clark, "America‘s Educator" and best-selling author; Dan Rose, Vice President of Partnerships, Facebook; John O‘Leary, inspirational best-selling author; David Perdue, US Senator and former Fortune 500 CEO; Chris Conlee, author and lead pastor, Highpoint Church; and Eric Wesley, Commanding General, US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, among others.

    James H. Blanchard
    Chairman, Board of Advisors, JBA Capital, LLC
    Retired Chairman of the Board and CEO, Synovus


    Blanchard began his service with Synovus Financial Corp. in June 1970 and served as CEO of Synovus from 1971 until being named Chairman of the Board in July 2005. Blanchard retired from Synovus in October 2006. In 2011, he partnered with the Jordan Company, a Columbus-based real estate and investment firm, to create Jordan-Blanchard Capital.


    BBA, The University of Georgia, 1963
    LLB, The University of Georgia, 1965


    • Chairman and CEO, Retired, Synovus Financial Corp.
    • Lead Director, Total System Services, Inc.
    • Emeritus Director, Columbus Bank and Trust Company
    • Retired Lead Director, At&T Corporation
    • Director, W.C. Bradley Co.
    • Director, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
    • Chairman, Global Teen Challenge Advisory Board
    • Chairman, Florida/Georgia Teen CHallenge Board of Directors
    • Director, World Leader's Group
    • Director, EQUIP
    • Member Emeritus, Terry Dean's Advisory Council, University of Georgia
    • Member, Building Terry Campaign Cabinet, University of Georgia
    • Member, Lead Like Jesus National Advisory Board
    • Member, Georgia Historical Society Board of Curators
    • Trustee, Columbus State Unviersity Foundation
    • Past Trustee and Past Chairman, Georgia Research Alliance
    • Past Director and Past Chairman, Financial Services Roundtable
    • Past Director and Past Chairman, BITS (formerly Bankers Information Technology Secretariat)
    • Past Director, American Bankers Association


    • Alumni Merit Award for distinguished and loyal service, The University of Georgia, 2015
    • Impact Award for “Building Better Lives,” New Horizons Community Services Board, 2014
    • The Sue Marie and Bill Turner Servant Leadership Award, The Pastoral Institute, 2013
    • Divine Servant Leadership Award, Lead Like Jesus, 2012
    • 2010 FinTech Lifetime Achievement Award, Technology Association of Georgia
    • 2008-2009 Honorary Chairman, Financial Services Roundtable Scholarship Foundation
    • Designated First Presidential Fellow, Columbus State University, 2009
    • Charter Recipient, Georgia Ethics in Business Award, 2009. The award is now known as the Blanchard Award in Business Ethics
    • Southeastern University Doctorate of Humane Letters, 2009
    • The Eddie Sams Award, University of Georgia Golf Team, 2008
    • Rozier Dedwylder Leadership Award, Uptown Columbus Inc., 2008
    • Lifetime Achievement Award, Technology Association of Georgia, 2007
    • Woodruff Award, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, 2007
    • VanLandingham Award, Georgia Council on Economic Education, 2006
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Award, Delta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Educational Foundation, 2006
    • “Most Influential Georgians Hall of Fame,” Georgia Trend magazine, 2006
    • “25 Most Influential People in Financial Services,” US Banker magazine, 2005
    • Beta Gamma Sigma International Honoree Award, 2005
    • “Georgian of the Year,” Georgia Trend magazine, 2003
    • “Most Respected CEO” in the state, Georgia Trend magazine, 1997
    Blanchard Award

    The Blanchard Ethics in Business Award


    The live oak, Georgia’s state tree, is a perennial and universal symbol of rectitude and the symbol of The Blanchard Ethics in Business Award. The first Award for Outstanding Stewardship and Ethics in Business was established in 2009 and awarded James Hubert Blanchard. Known since then by the name of its first recipient, the award recognizes outstanding stewards of business ethics and corporate responsibility for success in these areas.


    To recognize outstanding stewards of business ethics and corporate responsibility in their successful careers and to demonstrate the need for business support of education at all levels.


    Nomination forms are available via email at: helton_ed@columbusstate.edu. Submissions will be accepted until the June 30 deadline. Any forms received after this date may roll over to the next award year.


    Nominees are individuals with records of outstanding business success and ethical behavior, which records are well known to the judges. The award winner has been an outstanding steward of business ethics and corporate responsibility over a long career.


    The winner of the Blanchard Ethics in Business Award will receive appropriate recognition at the annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum. His/her name will be inscribed on the award.


    Ed Helton, Assistant Vice President for Leadership Development, Columbus State University, helton_ed@columbusstate.edu, or (706)568-2469.

    The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University is a university-based consulting group that provides expertise and training in leadership development, team building, assessments, executive coaching and strategic planning. Founded in 2005, the Leadership Institute has worked with more than 150 organizations and helped develop thousands of leaders. For more information on how we can help your business, group or organization, visit www.ColumbusState.edu/Leadership.