NACD Hosts Successful Virtual Summit 2020 on the Mainstage

October 30, 2020

NACD’s first virtual Summit successfully launched with two days of mainstage programming on October 12 and 13, 2020. Committee- and topic-specific breakout sessions will continue through the end of October and early November. This year’s mainstage programming drew nearly 2,000 attendees from around the globe, and while members had complimentary access, nonmembers were also able to attend.

The first two days of the Virtual NACD Summit 2020 featured politicians, former government officials, CEOs of household brands, journalists, academics, and data experts galore who spoke about our year of uncertainty and corporate purpose.

NACD CEO Peter R. Gleason led the way on opening day with his keynote speech, in which he got specific about how NACD is leading our members to stay ahead of the curve—including by introducing NACD Accelerate™. This new, two-year program recognizes the need for a strong, diverse, and highly qualified pipeline of professionals to serve as tomorrow’s directors. “I ask you to keep the faith. Be courageous. Remain inventive. Hold your standards high. Elevate your performance,” Gleason said in his opening address. “In short, adapt, nurture resilience, and be well.”

The first day’s programming featured Amb. Susan E. Rice, who told attendees of her leadership experiences and the lessons she learned in government and now on the board of Netflix, touching on the thoughts she wrote down in her New York Times best-selling book, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (2019). The day wrapped with a panel discussion on where boards fit into social justice movements, featuring Lauren Araiza, associate professor of history and black studies at Denison University; Tony Coles, cochair of the Black Economic Alliance and chair and CEO of Cerevel Therapeutics; Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD; and, serving as moderator, Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up. As the speakers on the panel gave their final thoughts, Araiza asked the directors in the audience, “How do you want historians like me to judge your companies?” She then reiterated that a focus on social justice and a focus on profit are not mutually exclusive.

The second day’s programming started with a conversation moderated by Marisol Angelini, director at Bush Brothers & Co., between Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., and Beth Ford, president and CEO at Land O’Lakes, about how their respective companies are turning sustainability initiatives and a stakeholder focus into profit. They discussed everything from the influence of technology and data analytics on farm productivity to the increasing popularity of the circular economy among younger generations and how Levi’s is leveraging this to create Levi’s SecondHand.

After Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent at CNN, spoke about COVID-19 and what businesses should consider when returning to their office spaces, Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president at Ariel Investments and director at Starbucks Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., ended the day in conversation with Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.). Touching on his upbringing as the son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell inspired the audience with his riveting storytelling.