Brennan Symposium in Leadership and Ethics
Established in 2007, the Brennan Symposium for Student Leadership and Ethics is the major initiative of the Francis P. Brennan Fund. Named in honor of Frank Brennan, BC ’39, this annual event is designed to equip the rising set of student leaders with new leadership skills and to foster dialogue among student leaders from different domains. Participants are drawn from the ranks of a variety of student clubs and organizations.
A native of Somerville, son of Irish immigrants, and decorated World War II veteran, Brennan was a longtime leader in the Massachusetts banking and financial communities, and chairman of the board of the Massachusetts Business Development Corporation. Mr. Brennan credited much of his success to being educated by Jesuits at Boston College.
NEXT BRENNAN SYMPOSIUM WILL BE HELD IN SPRING 2018
Spring 2017: Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner Odede
Kennedy Odede was an active community organizer in Kibera, one of Kenya's most impoverished and troubled slums. For his tireless work there, he was known throughout Kibera unofficially as “Mayor.” Jessica Posner was a privileged 20-year-old Wesleyan University student on a semester abroad project, who reached out to Kennedy in hopes to help with a theater group he was running. During her semester abroad, Jessica wanted an authentic experience, so she moved to the slum of Kibera with Kennedy. Together, Kennedy and Jessica worked to build a school for girls (many of whom had been abused) and together they founded the nonprofit community organization Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).
Kennedy was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, and recently won the Mohammed Ali Humanitarian Award. The New York Times, CNN, and Project Syndicate have published his opinion articles on urban poverty. His work has been featured by President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and on five occasions by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times, including in Kristof’s most recent book and documentary. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Kennedy received a full scholarship to Wesleyan University, where he currently serves on the board of trustees.
Jessica graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors from Wesleyan University, and is the youngest alumnae to receive the institution’s “Distinguished Alumni Award.” She won the 2010 Do Something Award and was named “America’s top-world changer 25 and under,” and received the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship. Jessica speaks Swahili, and is the first known outsider to live for an extended period of time in Kibera.
In October 2015, Kennedy and Jessica released their first book, Find Me Unafraid, based on their story and the work they've done to help improve the lives of girls in Kibera and similar communities throughout the world. Senator Cory Booker called Find Me Unafraid “A powerful reminder of an individual's capacity to make a meaningful difference in the world around them. Kennedy and Jessica's inspiring words are a soaring call to action for anyone who has confronted seemingly insurmountable odds -- and found hope."
Spring 2016: Dr. Annie McKee
Founder and Chairman of Teleos Leadership Institute, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s executive doctoral program, and author Annie McKee has been called “the high priestess of executive coaching” by Business Week. An emotional intelligence expert on the cutting edge of leadership and organizational culture, she is dedicated to making good leaders better and world-class corporations even more successful. Her book, Becoming a Resonant Leader, a follow-up to Resonant Leadership, is a hands-on guide to developing emotional intelligence, renewing relationships, and sustaining effectiveness. McKee also wrote 2011’s Management: A Focus on Leadership and co-authored the bestseller Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence with Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis. McKee believes that “the best leaders create resonance — a reservoir of positivity that inspires passion and motivates people to perform at their best.” She believes that resonant leaders do more than simply chart a strategy or manage resources — they create an environment where people can be at their best — in a climate that is characterized by hope and a shared belief in a compelling vision.
Spring 2015: Tina Rosenberg
According to award-winning author and journalist Tina Rosenberg, we could all benefit from a little peer pressure. A journalist for more than 25 years, Rosenberg has spent her career covering some of the world’s greatest problems. One of the founders of the Solutions Journalism Network, Rosenberg now wants journalists to do more than just point our society’s failings – she wants them to cover how people are responding. Her popular New York Times column, “Fixes,” focused on exploring solutions to major social problems, including the healthcare crisis and widespread poverty, and examines different strategies across a range of communities and organizations. A winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Rosenberg’s most recent book, Join the Club: How Peer Pressure can Transform the World, takes readers around the globe to show them the power of positive peer pressure.
Spring 2014: Matt '07 & Sarah Ryan '07
Matt Ryan is the current quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. He was drafted in the first round as the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft after playing college football at Boston College where he led the team as the school’s starting quarterback from 2005 to 2007. Sarah Ryan was the starting point guard for three seasons as a member of Boston College's women's basketball team. She ended her career second on the school’s all-time assists list, and was a part of two teams that made the Sweet Sixteen. Sarah is currently working for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream as a sponsorship sales consultant.
Spring 2013: Mark Herzlich '10
Mark Herzlich missed the entire 2009 BC Football season due to Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, which he overcame. In 2010 he returned to the football field and won the Rudy Award and the ACC's Brian Piccolo Award after starting all 13 games and finishing third on the team with 65 tackles and 50 solo stops. He received the Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award for overcoming cancer, as well as the Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award for sportsmanship. In January 2011, he received the "Most Courageous Athlete" award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association.
Spring 2012: Matt '97 and Sarah Hasselbeck '97
Matt Hasselbeck joined the National Football League and has played for the Green Bay Packers, the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans. He led the Seahawks to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl, while being selected to three Pro Bowls. Sarah Hasselbeck was inducted into the Boston College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 (field hockey). Matt and Sarah have been married almost twelve years and have three children: Annabelle, Mallorie, and Henry.