Liberty University’s annual CEO Summit attracts hundreds of national industry leaders

This week’s CEO Summit: Networking the Nations at Liberty University treated students and guests, including hundreds of influential business leaders, to three days of panels and presentations featuring over 60 prominent national figures in business, entertainment, international trade, technology, politics, sports, and many other fields.

On Tuesday, several African leaders joined a Dialogue with Africa panel discussion that focused on the diverse opportunities that the continent offers to U.S. businesses who wish to invest internationally. Speakers included Tanzanian Ambassador Elsie S. Kanza, Zambian Ambassador Chibamba Kanyama, acclaimed journalist and South Africa native Lara Logan (previously with CBS’ “60 Minutes”), Nigerian Gov. Caleb Mutfwang, who represents the Plateau State, two more ambassadors, and a host of other African guests and U.S. business leaders. Discussions focused on enabling African countries to tap into and trade their abundance of natural resources and human capital with the rest of the world and the ethical and Christian importance of supporting African businesses.

That afternoon, Liberty School of Music hosted and moderated a panel discussion on music, industry, and culture. Guest panelists included Todd Dupler with the Recording Academy, Mitch Glacier with Recording Industry of America, and Greg Ham from OneEight Entertainment.

Later that evening, students were invited to a Future CEO Dinner where they could network with business representatives and hear from keynote speaker former U.S. Secretary of State and newly appointed Distinguished Chair of Liberty’s Helms School of Government Mike Pompeo.

Liberty University’s annual CEO Summit attracts hundreds of national industry leaders
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) and Dr. Dave Brat

Wednesday opened with morning sessions on living an intentional life, taking back culture, education, and business. Liberty’s Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center hosted a panel featuring actors and producers Kevin and Sam Sorbo, screenwriter Dan Gordon, and Chad Gunderson and Chris Juen, producers of the hit series “The Chosen.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida addressed the student body at Convocation, speaking on the intersection of faith and politics. Rubio spoke on the recent atrocities affecting Israel and shared how Christians should stand on their faith in the face of evil. Other political figures who made appearances at Convocation were Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and Pompeo.

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Wednesday’s afternoon panels included topics such as forecasting Supreme Court decisions in 2024, implementation of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, education, and more. These dialogues included guests such as several Supreme Court clerks; Tom Gruber, the creator of the Siri virtual assistant technology; and multiple CEOs of technology companies.

Wednesday’s keynote dinner featured Rubio, “The Chosen” producers, and the CEO of one of the nation’s largest home improvement retail stores. Guests also heard from Logan, who shared more about how her faith carried her through her career as a journalist and charged Christians to boldly stand up for their faith. She highlighted the current persecution of Christians in America and internationally.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida spoke at Wednesday’s Convocation and was a keynote speaker at the dinner that night. (Photo by Matt Reynolds)

Liberty President Dr. Dondi Costin thanked the business leaders in attendance for being a part of the summit and investing in the lives of Liberty students.

“I love the fact that there are nametags, some of which say CEO and others of which say future CEO,” Costin said. “Liberty University Trains Champions for Christ. We do it in all kinds of ways, but our job and the mission that God has given us is to take students and over the course of four years pour into them so that they understand completely that their job for the rest of their life is to go into their sphere of influence wherever God leads them, and in that sphere of influence to be Jesus Christ in that place.”

Rubio again addressed the current horrors facing Israelis. He spoke about the depravity of human nature as well as the important role that one’s faith plays in keeping them on the right path.

“Human knowledge without principles and without values rooted in a system of truth is dangerous because it places powerful tools and positions of power in the hands of people who are slaves of human nature,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (Photo by Chase Gyles)

He said America is not perfect, yet it should serve as a blueprint for how a nation should operate. He attributed the historical success of the United States, as well as the current decline, to the role of family in society.

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“I always tell people the most important house is not the White House but your house,” Rubio said. “The most important role that those young people that were there today will ever have in their lives is not their career, their title, how much money they make, or the number of things they have when they die. The most important and influential role they will ever have is the role of a husband or a wife, and the role of a mother or a father.”

Several of Thursday morning’s panels hinged on governmental issues such as patriotism and national security. Guest panelists included Liberty Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Scott Hicks, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, retired National Security Advisor to the Vice President of the United Stated Keith Kellogg, retired U.S. Army General Bob Dees, and Heritage Foundation Executive Vice President Derrick Morgan, among others.

Other panels on Thursday centered on how to incorporate faith into the workplace as a CEO, strategies for business growth, solutions to current financial challenges, empowering the powerless through business, and combatting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing and cancel culture.

Thursday’s keynote dinner featured U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and the CEO of one of the nation’s largest soft drink bottlers.

Actors and producers Sam and Kevin Sorbo (Photo by Chase Gyles)

Paul spoke on governmental and ethical failures surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized his desire to uncover the truth about what caused the virus as well as prevent future viral outbreaks. He concluded by acknowledging his willingness to serve the American public through his office.

“I will honestly critique either party, either president,” Paul said. “I have in the spending bills, whether they were republican or democrat. I work for you, I work for the people, I work for the Constitution. I’m going to continue trying to do that for you.”

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Prior to the keynote messages, the Sorbos discussed the release of their new movie “Miracle in East Texas,” and Morgan and American Association of Christian Counselors President Tim Clinton also made speaking appearances.

The annual CEO Summit provides students with access to Liberty’s extensive network of world-class CEOs, government leaders, innovators, and influencers. Students have the opportunity to build relationships with fellow students and alumni, engage in discussion on major issues in a variety of disciplines, and interact with hundreds of influential leaders across many different industries who provide a Christian perspective on leadership. Students often obtain jobs and internships from the direct networking opportunities available to them at the summit.

“This was the best CEO Summit yet because the students played a major role, and all of the deans and the provost expanded the scope and reach of the summit as seen by the great roster of guests,” Vice Provost for Engagement and Public Relations Dr. Dave Brat said. “Many great testimonials have already come in, noting the role of faith and the final culmination of what faith can look like in the world of business. The closing address shared a profound vision of what business can look like if God truly leads the CEO and the business, making all the difference for the soul and the bottom line.

Brat said that President Costin provided the “grand finale” to the summit and noted that although next year’s speakers are yet to be determined, “We know God will be here.”

Award-winning journalist Lara Logan (Photo by Matt Reynolds)
Tanzanian Ambassador Elsie S. Kanza (left) and Zambian Ambassador Chibamba Kanyama (right) spoke at the “Dialogue with Africa” panel. (Photo by Kendall Tidwell)
(Photo by Matt Reynolds)
Liberty students and volunteers were thanked for their help with the CEO Summit during Thursday’s keynote dinner. (Photo by Chase Gyles)
(Photo by Chase Gyles)