Mercer’s 2018-2019 Executive Forum to Begin Oct. 16 with Presentations by Forbes Magazine Publisher

Executive Forum

MACON/ATLANTA – Mercer University’s 2018-2019 Executive Forum, Georgia’s Premier Business Enrichment Program, kicks off Oct. 16 with presentations by Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine and an economic and business innovation thought leader, in Atlanta and Macon.

This year’s slate of speakers also includes Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Ben Parrish, executive vice president, general counsel and chief sustainability officer of Tractor Supply Company; and Rankin Hobbs, CEO of KaMin Performance Minerals.

Rich KarlgaardKarlgaard will offer a noon lunch presentation at the Capital City Club in Atlanta and a 6:30 p.m. dinner presentation in the Presidents Dining Room in Macon on Oct. 16. The title of his presentation is “Trump, Tech, Trade, Turbulence and the 2018 Mid-Terms.”

An entrepreneur-turned-publisher, columnist, author, television commentator, private investor and board director, Karlgaard is a respected forecaster of how events and upcoming trends – tech, financial markets and especially the impact of Washington politics – will affect business and the economy.

Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes magazine, where he also writes a biweekly column, “Innovation Rules,” known for its witty and honest assessment of technology trends and current business issues. He is a regular panelist on cable news’ most popular business show, Forbes on FOX, and is a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page. Karlgaard is also a past winner of Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year Award.”

Karlgaard is the author of The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success and co-author of Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations.

Chris ClarkClark will offer a 6:30 p.m. dinner presentation on “Rural Prosperity in Georgia” in the Presidents Dining Room in Macon on Nov. 29.

A Georgia native, Clark is president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and master’s degree in public administration from Georgia College and State University.

Prior to joining the Georgia Chamber, he served as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, deputy commissioner for the Department of Economic Development, president of the Fayette County Development Authority and CEO of the Hawkinsville-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.

He serves on the board of directors for Council of State Chambers as the secretary treasurer, and sits on the boards of the Georgia Allies, the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and Georgia College and State University Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Council of 100, the U.S. Chamber’s board and its Political Affairs Committee. Among other things, he is a member of the board of visitors for the University of Georgia.

He is a graduate of Leadership Georgia and has been consistently named one of Georgia Trend magazine’s 100 most influential Georgians and one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s most influential Atlantans. He received the Georgia Economic Developers Association’s Zell Miller Public Policy Leadership Award.

Ben ParrishParrish will offer a noon lunch presentation at the Capital City Club and a 6:30 p.m. dinner presentation in the Presidents Dining Room on Jan. 15. The title of his presentation is “The Importance of Corporate Sustainability.”

Tractor Supply has received numerous awards for its focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship. The company has invested in energy management systems and more efficient heating and air conditioning systems in its stores, implemented companywide recycling programs and installed solar arrays at its Store Support Center.

Parrish has been corporate secretary of Tractor Supply Company since October 2010, its executive vice president since February 2015, and its general counsel since Sept. 29, 2016. He previously served as general counsel of real estate and construction, as well as senior vice president.

Prior to working for Tractor Supply Company, he served as executive vice president and general counsel of MV Transportation Inc. and senior vice president and general counsel of Central Parking Corporation and its subsidiary, Central Parking System Inc. Additionally, he served as senior vice president and general counsel of Smith & Nephew Inc.

Parrish is a 1978 graduate of Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts and a 1982 graduate of the University’s School of Law. He also serves on the Mercer Law School Board of Visitors.

Rankin HobbsHobbs will offer a noon lunch presentation at the Capital City Club and a 6:30 p.m. dinner presentation in the Presidents Dining Room in May. The title of his presentation is “Georgia’s Kaolin Industry and International Trade.”

Hobbs currently serves as CEO of KaMin Performance Minerals LLC. His career began in the financial services industry, which included roles at Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Subsequently, he joined Tom Chambers, a veteran of the lime business, to form a business to invest in industrial mineral and specialty chemical businesses. This venture became known as IMin Partners. Since its founding, IMin Partners has participated in numerous industrial mineral and specialty chemical businesses, including pumice, diatomite, chemical additives, magnesium oxide and kaolin clay.

Hobbs serves on the boards of CR Minerals and MidContinental Chemical. During his career, he has also served on a number of private company and nonprofit boards. He is past chairman of the Agape Clinic, a healthcare clinic serving the underprivileged of Dallas, and is on the board of the Hicks Muse Furst Tate Center for Private Equity at the University of Texas.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts in economics from Vanderbilt University and Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Headquartered in Macon with additional facilities in Sandersville and Wrens and a facility in Brazil, Ka-Min LLC has a nearly 100-year history in Middle Georgia as a producer of kaolin clay and was a major donor to the first endowed chair in the Mercer School of Engineering, the Georgia Kaolin Industry Chair. Ka-Min is annually one of the largest exporters in terms of tonnage out of the Port of Savannah.

This year’s media and hospitality sponsors include Georgia Trend, Georgia CEO and The 1842 Inn.

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

About the Executive Forum, Georgia’s Premier Business Enrichment Program

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

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.