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May 10, 2012 | Tom Ballard

SGPB “Chairman’s Conference” to celebrate organization’s 40 years

Leaders from throughout the South and beyond will gather in Chattanooga on June 25 and 26 for the annual Southern Growth Policies Board’s (SGPB) “2012 Chairman’s Conference.”

This year’s gathering, however, will be special, according to Linda Hoke, SGPB’s Director of the Council on the Southern Community who is coordinating arrangements. The 2012 event will commemorate the 40th anniversary of SGPB and the 25th anniversary of the Southern Technology Council (STC), a key SGPB affiliate.

She said many former SGPB leaders will be in Chattanooga for the celebration. They include David Mathews, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kettering Foundation, and William Winter, former Governor of Mississippi and former SGPB Chair. The two led three seminal “Commission on the Future of the South” – Mathews in 1974 and 1980, and Winter in 1986. The latter report, “Halfway Home and a Long Way to Go,” continues to be cited more than a quarter of a century after it was issued.

Hoke said that former SGPB Executive Director Jesse White and former STC Director Stu Rosenfeld will also participate in the celebratory session. White later became Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, while Rosenfeld is Principal and Founder of Regional Technology Strategies, Inc.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, SGPB’s Chair, will serve as host for the event that will examine job and workforce trends, with a view towards reimagining tomorrow’s educated worker.

“We will be emphasizing that the knowledge economy demands a more skilled workforce,” Hoke told in a recent interview. She said the speakers are still being confirmed, but the key themes have been established. They include:

  • Improving access and affordability for education beyond high school;
  • Ensuring students are prepared for college and careers;
  • Aligning education with business workforce needs;
  • Utilizing data to better assess progress; and
  • Exploring career clusters with the most opportunities.

Other confirmed speakers are:

  • Ronald Ferguson, Director, Achievement Gap Initiative and Co-Leader, Pathways to Prosperity Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education;
  • Scott Jenkins, Director of External Relations, Western Governors University;
  • Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO, Lumina Foundation;
  • Nicole Smith, Senior Economist, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce;
  • Marc Tucker, President and CEO, National Center on Education and the Economy; and
  • Bruce Vandal, Director of Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development, Education Commission of the States.

SGPB launched a series of columns on “Reflections on the Southern Growth Policies Board” more than a month ago. Individuals who have been linked to the organization have written columns including this author. They can be found at

This year’s conference will be held at The Chattanoogan. Registration and other information can be found at

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