Keynote Speakers

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande

Former President, Westminster University

Friday Opening Luncheon
Benjamin Akande

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande was named the 21st president of the 164-year-old Westminster College on May 8, 2015. Dr. Akande, is an accomplished higher education leader and visionary. His tireless efforts have contributed to the transformation of institutions and organizations in the public and private sectors by positioning them to fulfill their missions and surpass their goals. Previously, he served as Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University, and Webster University’s Chief of the Office of Corporate Partnerships, where he is credited with developing and nurturing numerous corporate and donor partnerships. He is a globally recognized consultant to Fortune 500 companies in the areas of corporate strategy and responsibility, leadership development and market positioning.

Dr. Akande is regularly sought out as an economic and policy commentator on local, regional and national media outlets; his appearances include NPR Marketplace Public Radio, Anderson Cooper 360 and CBS Evening News. He is a former consultant to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

A Nigerian-born American citizen, Dr. Akande holds two Masters degrees and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor in Business Administration from Wayland Baptist University. He has completed post-doctoral studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Saïd School of Business at Oxford University.

Dr. Ken Tucker

President, University of West Alabama

Saturday Keynote Luncheon
William Pickard

Dr. Ken Tucker became the 12th president of the University of West Alabama on January 1, 2015. He holds a bachelor of arts and doctorate from the University of Alabama and a master of business administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He's previously served as dean of UWA’s College of Business and Technology and Professor of Management. Tucker has also served as Chairperson of UWA’s Foundation Board of Directors. During his previous tenure at then Livingston University, he was President of the Faculty Senate and received the Outstanding Business Faculty Award.

Tucker also spent six years as Director of Human Resources and Special Projects at Bryan Whitfield Hospital and two years at the Alabama Technology Network as Director of the Center for Forestry, Paper, and Chemical Technology. Prior to rejoining UWA as Dean, he spent seven years as Director of Training and Education for North American Operations at Weyerhaeuser Corporation.

Tucker is an active participant on the Alabama Regional Workforce Development Council, Black Belt Commission, and Board of Directors for the Alabama Council on Economic Education and Alabama Communities of Excellence, where he also served as President. He is also a member of ODK, Kappa Delta Pi, Delta Sigma Pi, Blue Key, Delta Mu Delta, Phi Kappa Phi, and a number of national and international Who’s Who publications for Executives and Professionals. Tucker serves on the Global Education Committee of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, for which he also serves as a site evaluator for colleges and universities seeking accreditation.

Among Dr. Tucker’s honors are the William Gilbert Award for Excellence in Teaching awarded by UWA (then Livingston University) and the statewide award for Teaching Excellence and Professional Contributions given by the Alabama Association for Higher Education in Business. He is a Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow and was named Citizen of the Year by the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce. He also has served as Chairperson of the Marengo County Commission and has received the Excellence in County Government Award from the Alabama Association of County Commissioners twice.