Keynote Speakers:

Profile shots for McChrystal, Neal, Harley, and Freakley

Peer-to-Peer Leadership Speakers: Pre-Recorded Bonus Material

Strong Leaders Alumni Speaker featuring Johnson, Woodworth, Bishop, and Shepherd

Strong Leaders, Strong Teams

The selection of speakers above: Stanley McChrystal, "Butch" Neal, Shari Harley, and Ben Freakley, represent top experts in the field of teamwork, team/business/leadership coaching, and effective communications. Over the course of the two-day online event, participants will hear from and participate in engaging activities that will help you in your journey of leadership development from leading self to leading peers, to leading teams. 


Stanley McChrystalretired four-star Army general, former commander of US and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan and the former commander of the nation’s premier military counter-terrorism force, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). McChrystal is also the author of Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, which was a New York Times bestseller in 2015.

McChrystal founded McChrystal Group in January 2011 to deliver innovative leadership solutions to businesses globally in order to help them transform and succeed in challenging, dynamic environments. As Founder and a Partner, he advises senior executives at multinational corporations on navigating complex change and building stronger teams. His talk will focus on content from his book and his experiences with high-performing teams.

Gen. McChrystal is the 2020-21 H.B. Johnson, Jr. '26 Distinguished Speaker.

**Schedule for General McChrystal's speech has changed to 2:30 - 3:30 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 16**

General Richard I. Neal: Following graduation from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, General Neal was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.  For the next thirty-five years, Neal commanded at every level within the Marine Corps; battery, battalion, brigade, and as the Second Marine Division Commander. 

He served two tours in the Republic of Vietnam and was twice decorated with the United States’ third-highest award for gallantry, the Silver Star Medal. During Operation Desert Storm, Neal served as the Deputy Director of Operations for General Schwarzkopf and was also responsible for briefing the international press on the war. Neal was promoted to four stars and assigned as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps before his retirement in 1998.

Subsequent to his retirement he has been the President of three companies dealing with the licensing of Intellectual Property. Neal was the Senior Mentor for the United States Marine Corps for five years and was a Senior Fellow for the National Defense University. Additionally, Neal was the Chairman of the Board for the Military Officers Association of America and is presently on the Board of Directors for Humanetics Corporation, for Steel Partners Holding, LP, and is on the Board of Trustees for Norwich University.

Neal holds a B.S. in History and Education from Northeastern University, an M.Ed. from Tulane University, and is a graduate of The National War College. Neal recently published a memoir “What Now, Lieutenant?” that is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps Professional Reading list. He and his wife Kathy have three children and eight Grandchildren and have lived on Capitol Hill since his retirement from the Marine Corps.

Shari Harley, founder and president of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. Ms. Harley will conduct an active-learning session with our attendees.

Ms. Harley is the Caroline Dawn Wortham '12 Leadership Speaker.

Ben Freakley, founder of Ready.Set.Resilient© and currently works for the Toronto Blue Jays as a mental performance coach. Freakley's session will focus on teamwork and organizational culture. 

As part of our bonus material for this year's content, because we just couldn't fit in all of this GREAT content, we've decided to include these recordings as bonus material available to our participants. Each talk provides unique perspectives on peer-to-peer leadership.

Featured VMI Alumni:

  • Lester Johnson '95 - VMI Board of Visitors Member, Entrepreneur
  • Elise Woodworth '07 - Veteran, Entrepreneur, Leadership Consultant
  • Joey Bishop '14 - Captain with the USMC Basic School, Quantico, VA
  • Samantha Shepherd '18  - 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, 57th female to graduate U.S. Army Ranger School