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Leadership Institute Hosts First Annual Symposium

By Cayla C. Calderwood, Contributing Writer

Student leaders from a variety of campus organizations spent an afternoon learning about leadership techniques and strategies at the inaugural Leadership Symposium on Friday afternoon.

The event was hosted by the Presidents’ Forum, a committee within the Leadership Institute at Harvard College, with the goal of “[bridging] the gap between the hundreds of student organizations on campus,” wrote Presidents’ Forum chair Peter Chen ’13 in an emailed statement.

“In the past we have hosted prominent speakers, separate workshops, panels, and a presidents’ banquet, but this is the first year we have ever combined all three elements into one half-day event,” Chen added. “I hope that student leaders were able to come out of the symposium with tangible skills to bring back to their student organizations.”

The conference featured Cynthia Trudell, PepsiCo’s executive vice president and chief personnel officer, as a keynote speaker.

“Cynthia mentioned that growth is sustained through practicing creative insight, sensitivity ... flexibility, and adaptability,” said Alice Li ’12-13, one of the event organizers. “She said that if a company does not have these things, particularly this forward thinking of sustaining growth, it becomes a dinosaur.”

Following the keynote address, attendees split into groups to participate in workshops led by other entrepreneurs and leaders in business, including CEO of Hollard-Mark Chris Colbert, President and founder of Leadership Edge Inc. John Hawkins, and Senior Brand Manager for Lipton Iced Tea Stacy Taffet.

“Both the students and speakers were really amazing,” said organizer Ece Erdagoz ’14, adding that the workshops were very “interactive.”

The conference concluded with an awards ceremony honoring several outstanding student leaders and programs who had applied to the Institute’s Leadership Symposium Awards.

Francesca R.L. Reindel ’11, co-Director of the Science Cabinet, received the honor of Best Student Leader. The title of Best Student Group was awarded to the Cambridge After School Program. The Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association and the Institute of Politics won in the category of Best Collaborative Effort for their “Brain Break for the Ballot” event, and the Best Mentorship Program award went to the Harvard chapter of the Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Mentoring organization.

Each of the winners received a $500 reward for their respective student groups.

Chen said that the Leadership Institute hopes to make the symposium an annual event.

“I definitely believe that [it] accomplished its goals,” he said. “I can’t wait for the 2012 Leadership Symposium.”

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