The Celebration of the Leadership Character Awards took place on October 15, 2015. The celebration included a speech from keynote speaker Ralph de la Vega and a panel of past winners. The panelists were Claire Lewis “Yum” Arnold, Chairman and CEO of Leapfrog Services, Inc., Letty Ashworth, Director – Global Diversity of Delta Airlines, Milton Little, President of United Way of Greater Atlanta, Mike Petrik, Partner at Alston & Bird, and John Yates, Partner at Morris, Manning, & Martin. Pat Falotico, CEO of Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, was the panel moderator.
Mr. de la Vega won the Leadership Character Award in the Large Company CEO category in 2011. Under his leadership, AT&T Mobility has become one of the largest smartphone and mobile Internet providers worldwide. Mr. de la Vega is also the author of the best-selling book Obstacles Welcome: Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life.
At the celebration, de la Vega spoke about his personal journey from Cuba to the United States and what it means to lead with integrity. He immigrated to the United States at the age of 11 and began working at BellSouth young in his career. De la Vega told a story from his early career in which his first manager sent him to complete a task – solely to test his integrity. After de la Vega “passed” his test, his manager talked with him about the importance of having integrity in business and making sure the people around you value honesty as well. This let an impression on de la Vega, who continues to practice and promote leading with integrity in public and in private.
The panelists answered from a range of questions relating to the Leadership Character Model and servant leadership. Each panelists individually described the quality of the Leadership Character Model that most thoroughly defined their leadership style. The panelists also stated their own definitions of “servant leadership”. Kicking off the conversation with these two conversations, the panelists further delved into the topics, interacting with one another and moderator, Pat Falotico.