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Paula Sneed, chairman and CEO of Phelps Prescott Group, was among the executives participating in the “Leveraging the Legacy” roundtable discussion at the 23rd Black Management Association Conference.

BMA Conference

Centered on success

Keeping with the theme “Creating a Legacy of Leadership,” speakers at the Black Management Association Conference address the importance of helping others achieve

By Brady Gervais

3/16/2010 - To put it lightly, the Honorable Dennis Archer has had a very successful career.

He served two terms as mayor of Detroit, where he earned national and international respect for changing the city’s image and direction. He was the first person of color elected president of the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan. Ebony magazine named him one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans,” while the National Law Journal counted him among the “100 Most Powerful Attorneys in the United States.” Today, Archer serves as chairman and CEO of Dennis W. Archer PLLC and chairman emeritus of Dickinson Wright PLLC, a Detroit-based law firm with more than 270 attorneys.

But Archer isn’t satisfied with his success alone. He’s committed to helping others succeed — and he wants the Kellogg community to join in his effort.

BMA Conference
The conference centered on the theme of “Creating a Legacy of Leadership” and was attended by more than 200 students, alumni and area leaders.
Photo by Dan Dry
Archer made that message clear at the Kellogg School’s Black Management Association Conference (March 4-7), which centered on the theme of “Creating a Legacy of Leadership” and was attended by more than 200 students, alumni and area leaders.

“We need to fill up the pipeline [of successful people] to make sure that there are more coming behind you — because it doesn’t stop with you,” Archer said. “We all owe it to those coming behind us” to provide support.

Success is rooted in hard work, he added, offering his personal story as an illustration. Growing up in the small town of Cassopolis, Mich., Archer began working at age 8 as a golf caddie. During high school, he held an assortment of odd jobs. Archer’s parents expected him to attend college, he said, and he worked doubly hard to be considered equal among his peers.

Aylwin Lewis, CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works
Dennis Archer
Chairman & CEO Dennis Archer PLLC
Executive Roundtable Discussion
Following Archer’s keynote address, four current and retired high-level executives convened to discuss “Leveraging the Legacy.”

The roundtable members echoed Archer’s remarks on supporting others. Wes Coleman, former executive vice president and chief human resource officer at The Walt Disney Company, said that throughout his career, he took the time to mentor others and to leave a positive impression.

Everyone has an obligation to help each other out, added Paula Sneed, chairman and CEO, Phelps Prescott Group. “Part of what your legacy is, is conducting yourself in a way that will allow people to want to be like you,” she said.

Other keynote speakers included Roslyn Brock ’99, chairwoman of the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Aylwin Lewis, CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works. CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien, who was scheduled to speak March 3, will visit the Northwestern campus at a later date.

“People came away inspired and with information that will really help them advance in their career,” said conference co-chair Justin Livingston ’10. “It’s a type of education that goes beyond what we get in the classroom.”