Leadership, life lessons on tap at IGNITE conference

·2 min read

Jan. 13—TUPELO — The Community Development Foundation's fifth annual IGNITE leadership conference drew another large and engaged audience on Thursday, as attendees heard from an Olympic gold medalist, a bestselling author, a U.S. Navy Seal commander and an HGTV personality.

More than 300 people attended the summit's morning session; another 252 attended in the afternoon at The Orchard.

"What an incredible day of learning about leadership and life lessons from some of the best," said Shane Spees, chairman of the CDF board and president and CEO of North Mississippi Health Services. "The presenters and content were spot-on, and can be used by any leader at any level of leadership in any type of organization."

The lineup of speakers included:

—Dominique Dawes, who was the first Black American to win a gymnastics medal. She was a 10-year member of the U.S. national gymnastics team, a three-time Olympian and a member of the gold-medal-winning "Magnificent Seven" team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

—Commander Rorke Denver, who ran every phase of training for the U.S. Navy SEALs, and led special-forces missions in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and other global hot spots. He's the author of "Worth Dying For" and the New York Times' bestseller "Damn Few." He starred as himself in the 2012 film "Act of Valor," and he also is the founder of Ever Onward, a brand designed to use Navy SEAL principles to teach leaders to perform at their highest levels.

—David Horsager, a national bestselling author of "The Trust Edge." He's traveled the world sharing his platform with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to professional sports teams and global governments.

—Ben Napier, a woodworker and entrepreneur with a degree in history and founder of Scotsman General Store & Woodshop and co-owner of Laurel Mercantile Co., spoke via a video presentation. He is a past president of Laurel's Main Street America. He and his wife Erin star in HGTV's "Home Town" television show and Ben hosts his own discovery+ show "Ben's Workshop."

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