For the second time since the pandemic, this year’s annual Leadership Conference took place at Bridgewater State University on May 18th! At this year’s conference, 150 students ranging from freshmen to juniors came from six different schools in the area, Brockton, Canton, New Bedford, Randolph, Scituate, and Taunton. This year, the conference was focused around the event topic of “Ditching Distractions, Finding Focus.” Students learned the importance of staying focused, understanding their goals and identity in order to live a happy life. The day was jam packed with a dynamic lineup of two amazing keynote speakers, three breakout sessions, and a remarkable vision board activity.
We started the day with a delicious breakfast provided by Dunkin Donuts, whose franchise owner, Neal Faulker, is also a sponsor for the conference. Students enjoyed donuts, muffins, bagels, and coffee, and were fueled up for the big day ahead. Students were also given BSU and Light Foundation swag including a t-shirt and a notebook to write down some important leadership takeaways from the day.
The real fun started once the cowbells rang! Kristina Keefe, a senior extern from Canton High School, and Jarred Mighty, member of the Light Foundation Leadership Academy through our cultural leadership program, Camp Vohakose, welcomed everyone to the conference, sharing their experiences with the Light Foundation, and giving the timeline for the day. Then, they introduced our co-founder and host for the conference, Matt Light.
We are truly grateful for the amazing speakers we had this year. Here’s a rundown of who they are and what they spoke about:
Thony Dorvil – As a United States Air Force Senior Enlisted Leader, Co-Founder of Capital Executive Consulting and enthusiastic philanthropist, he has excelled as a professional and personal development coach and mentor. His self help book titled Loud Whispers, looks to assist those who have experienced major setbacks that will ultimately motivate them to become the best version of themself. Thony shared his inspiring story on how he overcame several obstacles that eventually led him to his successful professional and personal life. His signature topics include legacy, hard work, perseverance over perfection, fighter in the mirror, and living with purpose. Thony’s advice on how to dig deep in your toughest moments resonates with the difficulties that come with being a high school student.
Devin McCourty – As a first round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft from Rutgers University, Devin went on to play 13 seasons for the New England Patriots. Throughout his career, Devin won three Super Bowls and received two Pro Bowl selections. We are very fortunate to have such a well respected captain and leader of a team as successful as the New England Patriots to speak at our conference.
At this year’s Leadership Conference, Devin spoke about “Game Planning for Future Success” and how this applied to his own personal experiences throughout his life. He went on to touch upon how despite game planning, things do not always go according to plan to be successful. Through his experience, he shared how some of the most important things in game planning for success are hard work and facing the distractions as they come in order to be successful. He talked about his family life as well as the inspiration he received from his mother and brothers. He used his spotlight in the NFL to fight for what he believed in, persevering through all the outside noise.
Between our fantastic keynote speakers, we took a little break to give students the opportunity to meet people from different schools, and utilize our selfie station/photo booth. Students loved putting on silly props, including Matt Light’s infamous beard, to take pictures with their peers. Also during this time, students were encouraged to meet other students through an activity called “Grab a Group.” The goal of the activity was to find one student from each school and form a group. Once they had their group, the object was to obtain everyone’s social media users, their favorite leader, their name, and their school. Many students formed groups almost immediately where they were able to get to know people they may not have talked to before. We also enjoyed lunch in the Bear’s Den, college style!
Kate Dennett – As a graduate from BSU in 2007 with her bachelors of science in Physical Education and Exercise Science, she went on to work in an inpatient EKG and Stress Testing Lab until she landed a job at the Cardiac Rehab at an outpatient hospital based facility. Despite working a “dream job” at the Cardiac Rehab facility, she felt as if there was more for her in this life after having her second child in 2013. In 2014, Kate, her mom, and her sister opened a wellness studio in Norton, Massachusetts called Find Your WAE. This wellness studio focused on mindfulness, reiki, mediation, and movement to help reach our full potential.
We are thrilled that we were able to bring her back to the campus where her journey began for this year’s Leadership Conference where Kate led a group activity called “Vision & Manifestation.” In this activity, Kate encouraged the students to dig deep within themselves to envision and manifest what they see in their future selves and decorate this vision on their vision board using quotes, sticky notes, printed pictures, and drawings.
The day included three breakout sessions – “Identity: Who am I?” by Marcell Howard and Thony Dorvil, “Finding Happiness” by Todd Patkin, and “TB12 Method & Application and its Connection to Physical Wellness, Mindset and Focus” by James Costello and Joe Koudelk.
The breakouts helped students to understand their identity, the steps to happiness, and wellness strategies for everyday life. They were provided with tools for embracing your identity, reframing thoughts to be kinder to yourself, and wellness habits and exercises to create a healthy lifestyle.
The Light Foundation team had a fantastic time putting the conference together. However, we could not have done it without our high school extern Kristina Keefe. She was monumental in planning activities, communicating with the high schools, and the administrative tasks such as designing name tags, ordering merchandise, and so much more. We are so grateful for her help and creativity. Putting on a conference is not an easy task, but she persevered and performed with excellence!
We would like to thank our amazing partners that helped this year’s Leadership Conference run so smoothly. Bridgewater State University was a pleasure to work with and their space was a perfect fit for our conference. We look forward to bringing our conference back there next year! Our Corporate Partner, Haynes group, provided us with extremely helpful and knowledgeable volunteers. These great volunteers were able to assist us in setting up the event while also engaging and connecting with our future leaders. Thank you again for your top notch support! Our go-to marketing partner and conference sponsor, Gravoc, used their talents to create dynamic videos of our conference. In doing so, they captured meaningful moments throughout that allows us to show off the impact this conference has. Also a big thanks to our other sponsors, Rockland Trust and Katharine Heaton of the Maureen Heaton Foundation.
Thank you again to our wonderful partners and all they do for the Light Foundation!