Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cost to attend The Forum?
We have both in-person and virtual rates. You can view the pricing on our registration page.
Who is speaking at The Forum 2021?
We have an awesome line-up of some of the best and brightest! See the full list of speakers.
How do I register?
You can register for the event on our registration page.
If I purchase virtual tickets, how do I view the event?
The event will stream live August 31, 2021. Simply logon to the website, enter the unique password emailed to you before the event and click submit.
Is the event on social media?
Yes! The Forum 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?
#TheForumatCSU #BestAndBrightest #CSUleadership
Will I have the opportunity to give feedback and suggest future speakers?
Yes! We will send a survey via email after the event.
Will I receive professional development credits for attending virtually?
You can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or Society of Human Resources Management Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for attending the event. You will receive a link with information on obtaining the certificate after the event.
Since its creation in 2006, The 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 Forum was established and Blanchard's vision became the "marching orders" for the Cunningham Center team.
The inaugural event was hosted on Columbus State University'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.
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.
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 University 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
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.
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 Forum. His/her name will be inscribed on the award.
Leadership Institute at CSU
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 leadership.columbusstate.edu.