Three years ago, SNI Chairman, Ron Shapiro, founded an annual Business Conference, the Butler Conference of Leaders. The Conference brings together business and non-profit leaders from across the Nation to address, among other things, economic, political, philanthropic and social issues. The Conference is held at Ron’s Farm in Butler, Maryland. Speakers have included names such as: Freeman Hrabowski , President of UMBC and one of Time Magazine’s 2012 “100 Most Influential People in the World”; Brian Rogers, Chairman and CIO of T Rowe Price Group; Steve Mosko, President of Sony Pictures Television; Bill Miller of Legg Mason Capital Management; Kevin Plank, Founder and CEO of Under Armour; , Mario Gabelli, a member of Barron’s All-Century Team; and Bob Costas, NBC Broadcaster. We were able to sit down with our colleague, Kim Talbott, the Butler Conference Director, and ask her a few questions about the Conference
The first three Butler Conferences have been huge successes. Can you talk a little bit about your role as the Conference Director?
The planning for the next year usually starts the week following the Butler Conference, so there’s not much downtime. I’m part of the planning committee, which consists of Ron Shapiro, George Mister, Terry Randall, and Michael Maas. We create a timeline that outlines the tasks that need to be completed month by month. This leaves me with a lot of different responsibilities, some of which include researching and brainstorming potential speakers, collaborating on the scope of their presentations, developing the budget, coordinating travel and other logistics for speakers, , and lining up vendors.
What inspired Ron to start the Butler Conference?
He said that it’s always been a dream of his to gather the brightest minds in one place.
What is the theme of the Conference this year and who is the keynote speaker?
We don’t really have a “theme” at any of the Conferences. We try to cover a broad scope of topics each year. That being said, the current state of the Economy usually impacts the focus of our Investment Panel – the staple of the Conference. Our title this year is “Confronting Challenge, Leading Change: Education, Journalism, Medicine, College Sports, the Market and More.”
Freeman A. Hrabowski III is our keynote speaker this year and we couldn’t be more excited. He is President of UMBC, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever have the pleasure of meeting.
Can you tell us a little bit about the panels for this year’s Conference?
We have four panels in the Program this year. One panel will discuss the future of journalism. Another will be a medical panel to speak about Alzheimer’s, stroke, and cancer. The third panel will discuss the landscape of collegiate sports and the shortcomings/hypocracy of the current system. The last panel will be focused on investments, which is a yearly fixture. Each of their panels has the brightest minds in their respective industries.
Are there any new speakers this year that you are excited about?
I’m really excited about the medical panel. It’s something different than anything we’ve done before. I think the audience will appreciate the knowledge these doctors have and the insightful discussion they are going to lead.
What has been your most memorable moment from the first three Butler Conferences?
This is a tough question, too. It’s hard for me to pick just one, but I guess it would have to be when Bob Costas did an impression of Howard Cosell. He’s quite the character.