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Campus Life

Former Southwest Airlines CEO Headlines Shelton Forum

Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, will headline the sixth annual General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Forum, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at North Carolina State University’s Jane S. McKimmon Conference and Training Center.

The forum, titled “Shaping the Game: The Power of TEAM Leadership,” will also include the forum’s namesake, retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton; Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, commanding general of the First Army; Courtney Lynch, founder of Lead Star; and James Speed, president and CEO of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Putnam will give the keynote address at 1:45 p.m.; Lynch and Speed will speak at the opening session at 8:15 a.m. and Honoré will speak at the “super seminar” at 11:30 a.m. The event will also include concurrent breakout sessions and a luncheon. The cost of the forum is $179, and preregistration is strongly encouraged. For more information or to register, visit, or call (919) 515-2261.

Putnam is the former CEO of Southwest Airlines. He also served as CEO of Braniff International and was the first CEO to successfully restructure a major airline into, through, and out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Prior to that, he spent more than 20 years with United Airlines, his final position being group vice president of marketing. He has been an entrepreneur, served as a director of several startup technology companies, and is author of The Winds of Turbulence. Putnam has an MBA in marketing from the University of Chicago and attended Harvard’s advanced management program.

Lynch is a former Marine and founder of Lead Star, a consulting firm dedicated to providing leadership development opportunities to those in leading corporations, nonprofits, law firms and colleges and universities. After finding success in the private sector as a sales professional and as an attorney, she co-founded Lead Star in 2004. Lynch is also co-author of the best-selling leadership book for women, Leading from the Front.

Prior to serving as president and CEO of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., Speed worked for the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche and for Hardee’s Food Systems. Speed is a certified public accountant and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of Black Accountants. He has served as vice chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Efficiency and Effectiveness (PACE) for the University of North Carolina System and on the Governor’s Business Council for Fiscal Reform, as well as on numerous other boards and commissions. He received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina Central University and his MBA from Atlanta University.

The General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Forum is an annual seminar series that focuses attention on the importance of leadership development. The forum is one program offering of the General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative, which is administered by NC State’s Office of Extension, Engagement and Economic Development. As executive director, Gen. Shelton is committed to developing values-based leadership skills to enhance corporate, government, education, nonprofit and youth development organizations. The General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative offers scholarships, as well as executive, faculty, student and youth development conferences.