Robin Roberts, a veteran broadcast journalist and co-anchor of ABC’s popular morning program, “Good Morning America,” is the headline speaker for the 2018 edition of the Bob Wright Symposium on Business Empowerment.
The event, now in its fourth year, is scheduled for Sept. 11 at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center, with Byron Pitts, ABC’s co-anchor of “Nightline,” serving as moderator once again. The symposium also will have a distinctive style this year, with the panel of guest speakers all women from various backgrounds of business leadership.
“We are very honored to be able to present Robin to our community to share her experiences during her more than 30 years in the broadcasting business,” Wright said in a release for the event. “Robin will be featured in our first ever all female line-up which highlights the incredible accomplishments of each talented entrepreneur and will inspire the next generation of leaders.”
Aside from Roberts, guest speakers include:
▪ Kimberly A. Blackwell, chief executive officer of PMM Agency
▪ Eva Jane Bunkley, inventor of “The Makeup Bullet” and celebrity makeup artist
▪ Stephanie Burnley, co-CEO of Devon Industrial Group
▪ Yukia Harris-Walker, Curvaceous Couture bridal salon owner
▪ Yuneisia Harris, Curvaceous Couture bridal salon owner
▪ Dr. Michele Hoskins, CEO and founder of Michele Foods
▪ Natalie M. King, Esq., CEO of Dunamis Clean Energy Partners
▪ Melissa Harville-Lebron, CEO of W. M. Stone Enterprises, E2 Northeast Motorsports and Coutra Music Group
▪ Rose E. McElrath-Slade, president and CEO of Strategic Resources Inc.
▪ Alexis Davis Smith, president and CEO of PRecise Communications
Roberts, of course, is the centerpiece of the symposium. She has been a co-anchor of GMA since 2005 and is one of the highest-paid anchors in the industry, earning $18 million a year, according to business magazine Forbes. Her GMA co-anchor is George Stephanopoulos.
During her time at GMA, the program has received four Emmy Awards and a People’s Choice Award. She also has earned the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and has been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the latter after a sports reporting and anchor career that culminated with a 15-year stint at ESPN starting in 1990.
Born in Vermont, her family relocated and Roberts grew up playing sports along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, eventually attending Southeastern Louisiana University and becoming a star basketball player whose number was retired. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 for her impact on the sport for her play and for her broadcasting career.
Roberts, 57, also has faced health challenges in her life, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, followed by a battle with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, a disease of the body’s bone marrow. She has been recognized for her perseverance through it all, being honored by The Susan G. Komen Foundation and receiving the George Foster Peabody Award and the Gracie Award. A major highlight came in 2013, when she received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.
Her life experiences have prompted two books — “From the Heart: 7 Rules to Live By,” and a memoir, “Everybody’s Got Something.”
Tickets for the Bob Wright Symposium on Business Empowerment are now on sale and can be purchased at www.bwsbe.com. The price per person through Aug. 10 is $150 for the daylong event, with the cost rising to $175 after that. Proceeds go to the Alpha Onward & Upward Foundation, a nonprofit that financially assists students headed to college.
Wright launched the symposium in 2015. He’s a retired optometrist, former Columbus City councilor, businessman and philanthropist who founded a technology and logistics company called Dimensions International in 1985, then sold it to Honeywell for $230 million more than two decades later. The son of a bricklayer and nurse also was very involved in the American Civil Rights Movement.