Conference for Leadership, Innovation and Social Change at DWU set for mid March

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The Conference for Leadership, Innovation and Social Change at Dakota Wesleyan University will be held Thursday, March 16.

The event will begin at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, March 16, at the McGovern Library with InnovaTalks by DWU students, followed by two speakers in the DWU Sherman Center at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. This event is free and open to all.

This year’s speakers include the Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, associate director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, and Darryl Nordquist, president and CEO for Special Olympics South Dakota.

“This conference is meant to start a conversation for our community about the ways we engage leadership, social change and innovation,” said Carly Hubers, program coordinator for the McGovern Center. “We hope people come with open minds and questions, and leave with some inspiration.”

The InnovaTalks will return this year with locals sharing their stories of entrepreneurship, leadership and service, the full list of names will be released closer to the date.

Wolicki, who is returning to DWU as the Stark Lecturer, spoke this past fall on campus, as well. In his talk, he will examine the story of Abraham and consider its two competing emphases, which are still experienced by persons of faith. People are called to be agents of God’s shalom/wholeness in a broken world, yet they are equally bound to a covenant aimed at blessing their own families and communities. Wolicki will provide wisdom from the Jewish experience as to how balance can be achieved and maintained over time. Wolicki has spent the last 12 years as dean of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah, a post-secondary academy of higher Torah learning, and previously he served as a communal rabbi in Fairfield, Conn., and Newport News, Va.

Nordquist will give the talk, “Acceptance and Inclusion Makes a World of Difference.” He has been with the Special Olympics South Dakota since January 2008 and previously worked for 25 years in banking, financial services and credit card industries.

The conference speakers will be held back-to-back and while there is not set lunch time for the day, those who wish to preorder a boxed lunch, can contact Carly Hubers at or at 605-995-2933.

“We have switched to a morning event for this conference, instead of extending into the afternoon like years before, hoping that with this schedule more people will be able to attend,” Hubers said. “We know it is difficult to get a half day off of work, much less a whole day, so we hope this format works out for more people.”

The conference is sponsored through these groups: DWU Campus Ministry, the Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship, the McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service, and the DWU Center for Talent Development, and through the endowment from the Stark Lecture series.

Wolicki will also be the keynote speaker for the Mitchell Area Youth Night, at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 15, in the Sherman Center. His talk, “Building a Teenaged Spiritual Life,” is free and open to all youth and their church leaders.

He will also speak on “Suffering: Three Biblical Strategies for Survival,” at 1 p.m., Thursday, March 16, for the Pastor’s Conference at DWU.