2019 Summit Recap

Another successful NACD Global Board Leaders’ Summit took place in Washington, DC, Sept. 21–24, 2019! This year's Summit drew a total of 1,700 attendees from 17 countries around the globe.

Over four days, attendees heard from generals and ambassadors, authors and economists, entrepreneurs and futurists discussing what it means to lead during a time of shifting risks, opportunities, and expectations of companies and the boards who oversee them.

The event kicked off with Peter Gleason, president and CEO, NACD, welcoming attendees to Summit with a keynote where he discussed this year’s theme—SHIFT—and how it plays a profound impact on boards, and he introduced NACD’s new tools, Blue Ribbon Commission Report, and Directorship Certification™. “Together, let us channel the energy of change, shift into a higher gear, and transport our profession to where we want it to be,” said Gleason.

“Together, let us channel the energy of change, shift into a higher gear, and transport our profession to where we want it to be."

Presidential historian, public speaker, and Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times best-selling author Doris Kearns Goodwin drew on the ideas in her newest bestseller, Leadership in Turbulent Times (2018), during a discussion about the keys to leading effectively through calm and rough seas.

In a powerful and insightful keynote, former Allied Commander of NATO Admiral James Stavridis provided a global overview of the risks, opportunities, and strategies involved in successfully creating a secure nation, government, and business community. He discussed what he believes are the greatest threats to U.S. national security and reinforced the need to strengthen the country’s “soft” and “hard” power. He closed with an inspiring quote from Napoleon: “A leader is a dealer in hope."

In a Q&A moderated by the Donna Zarcone, president and CEO of the Economic Club of Chicago, former Vanguard Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb discussed the current governance landscape and the growing tide of disruption in business and technology. After learning of NACD’s new Directorship CertificationTM following Peter Gleason’s announcement, McNabb said, “The fact that NACD is doing [certification] is fantastic. There’s no group more well suited for it. The training and programs that exist here already form a great foundation.”

"The fact that NACD is doing [certification] is fantastic. There's no group more well suited for it. The training and programs that exist here already form a great foundation."

At the second annual NACD NXT Recognition Gala, five boards took the top prize for their diversity and inclusion practices, including General Mills, Ryder, Amalgamated Bank, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corp., and Novant Health. Hosted by NACD in collaboration with Deloitte, CACI, Heidrick & Struggles, Semler Brossy, and USAA, the event was emceed by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien who stated, “Diverse boards can enliven and even change the conversation. Diversity matters—if you take advantage of it."

In a standing-room only session, NACD President and CEO Peter Gleason led an illuminating discussion on NACD’s 2019 Blue Ribbon Commission Initiative: Fit for the Future: An Urgent Imperative for Board Leadership with co-chair Lester Lyles and commission member Dona Young. The report serves as a call to action for board leaders to meet the demands of a fundamentally different operating reality by reshaping how the board thinks, operates, and interacts with business.

On Saturday night, the lights dimmed for the screening of The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, a documentary based on the downfall of health technology company Theranos, which was followed by an enlightening question-and-answer session with former Walgreens General Counsel Jan Reed and Theranos whistleblower Tyler Shultz.

The fourth annual Dancing With the Start-Ups pitch competition, in partnership in KITW, featured a total of 12 innovative companies pitching their ideas to a panel of judges and the NACD audience. The fast-paced format provided a platform for directors attending Summit to see firsthand some of the leading-edge solutions shaping and disrupting core businesses. The winners—NeuEsse, My Money My Future, Cambridge Crops, and Limeloop—received a prize package from NACD and sponsor KPMG valued at $30,000.