MACON/ATLANTA – Mercer University’s Executive Forum, presented by BB&T, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this academic year and will kick off its 2019-2020 slate of speakers with a presentation by 2016 presidential candidate and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Oct. 17 in Macon.
Kasich will be followed by Mercer alumnus Bryan Batson, BUS ’94, president of Atlanta Gas Light and Chattanooga Gas and senior vice president for Southern Company Gas, who will offer presentations in Atlanta and Macon on Jan. 28.
The final two speakers for this year’s Executive Forum, who will offer presentations in Atlanta and Macon in March and May, respectively, will be announced at a later date.
Kasich, a senior political commentator for CNN and New York Times best-selling author, will deliver a 6:30 p.m. dinner presentation in the Presidents Dining Room on the Macon campus.
A two-term governor of Ohio, Kasich closed an $8 billion budget shortfall without a tax increase, reduced taxes by $5 billion and created an improved business climate that led to the creation of more than 500,000 new jobs in the Buckeye State. Under his tenure, Ohio budget reserves grew from 89 cents to $2.7 billion. He was a leading voice in promoting bipartisan solutions to healthcare reform, immigration and international trade, and is one of the few Republicans to advocate for Medicaid’s expansion.
Kasich, a graduate of The Ohio State University, served as a member of Congress from central Ohio for 18 years. He was elected to the U.S. House at 30 years old, after having become the youngest state senator in Ohio history. He went on to become the chairman of the House Budget Committee and balanced the federal budget four times – a feat not accomplished since. After leaving Congress in 2000, Kasich worked as a managing director in the Investment Banking Division of Lehman Brothers.
He was a FOX television commentator for two shows, “Heroes” and “Heartland with John Kasich,” in addition to being a stand in host for both Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews. This January, he made his debut for CNN, where he will appear across a variety of programs. He has authored four New York Times best-sellers, with his next book, It’s Up to Us, scheduled for release in October.
Batson, who earned a master’s degree from Mercer’s School of Business and Economics and a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, will offer a noon lunch presentation at the Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta and a 6:30 p.m. dinner presentation in the Presidents Dining Room in Macon.
In his current role, Batson oversees all aspects of operations for the three natural gas utilities in Southern Company Gas’ southern region, which serve approximately 1.7 million customers in two states. He also is a member of the Southern Company Gas Management Council.
Previously, he served as senior vice president of commercial operations for Southern Company Gas, where he was responsible for delivering service to enable top-line growth and customer experience for the company’s 4.2 million customers served by its seven natural gas distribution companies, as well as for setting regulatory and legislative strategy for the enterprise.
Batson has more than 32 years of professional experience with Southern Company Gas and he has held leadership roles as senior vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs, senior vice president of external affairs, vice president of regulatory compliance and affairs, director of state regulatory affairs, division engineer, division manager and service center manager.
He has served on a variety of nonprofit and industry boards and is a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2004 and Leadership Georgia Class of 1997.
The Executive Forum was founded in 1979 as a business outreach program of Mercer and its School of Business and Economics and quickly became an invaluable resource for the business community and professionals across corporate Georgia through the presentation of high quality management and leadership seminars on timely subjects.
Mercer alumnus William H. Anderson II, then-President Dr. R. Kirby Godsey and founding dean of the business school Dr. Charles H. Andrews worked with the Office of University Advancement to plan, develop and implement the Forum in order to establish a closer relationship with the business community.
Over four decades of the Executive Forum, countless students and faculty have benefited from exposure to practitioners, and in turn, members of the Forum have benefited from a relationship with academia. These benefits include business networking opportunities, employee development skills and knowledge of current business trends.
BB&T is celebrating its 12th year as presenting sponsor of the Forum. This year’s co-sponsors include The 1842 Inn, KaMin Performance Minerals, Sheridan Construction, Cox Communications and Synovus.
The Executive Forum is a membership organization composed of businesses, organizations and individuals. Events are by invitation only to members. For more information on membership, call (800) 837-2911 or (478) 301-4169, or visit forum.mercer.edu/membership.
About the Executive Forum, presented by BB&T
The Executive Forum is a business outreach program of Mercer University’s Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics and the Office of University Advancement. The Executive Forum provides business professionals with an opportunity to hear nationally noted speakers while networking with other business leaders. For more information, call Mercer’s Office of University Advancement at (800) 837-2911 or (478) 301-4169, or visit forum.mercer.edu.