Grit and the American Character

2018 VMI Leadership and Ethics Conference Flyer with Bill Bennett keynote speaker Clint Romesah Milana Hogan James HatchSince the first colonies of what would later become the United States of America to our current rapidly changing world, Americans have routinely overcome major obstacles.  These challenges shaped an American character that was underscored by the attribute of grit.  GRIT combines growth, resolve, integrity, and tenacity, which applies to both to the nation and its individual members.

This conference will examine grit from various perspectives, ranging from discussions of its impact on our national character to individual self-assessment.  Throughout the conference, participants will hear from a wide-ranging group of speakers and learn more about their own grit through a series of interactive exercise.  Participants will also have an opportunity to partake in a carefully designed “Grit Challenge” competition.

Click on the image (right) to enlarge.

Remembering Caroline Dawn Wortham
VMI Class of 2012

About Caroline Dawn Wortham
About Caroline Dawn WorthamVMI Class of 2012
In Memoria
Carrie Wortham ’12 Bio
Wortham '12 Leadership Speaker
Wortham '12 Leadership SpeakerMilana Hogan
Milana Hogan’s Bio

Full Program




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We are in the process of building the program and inviting speakers. If you wish to be informed of any updates about the conference, contact us to be added to our email list.

The conference is open to all interested adults and attracts the attention of faculty and students of the nation’s foremost schools, members of the public and private sectors, military leaders, and non-profit audiences. By bringing these representatives on Post, VMI encourages national conversations on diverse themes of leadership and ethics in modern society.

VMI cadets, staff, faculty and other college students are encouraged to attend.

Previous Conferences

The 2017 leadership conference, Speaking Truth to Power:  Candid and Courageous Civil Discourse, explored the moral direction and professional ethical behavior of key institutions, including the military, higher education, and media communities.

YouTube playlist of all videotaped sessions.

Event program booklet with schedule and speaker info.

2016 marked the 70th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan.  Marshall’s exemplary strategic leadership, especially in visioning and managing change during a key global transition, provides a yardstick to measure parallel efforts in contemporary and future contexts.

Marshall, a 1901 graduate of VMI was one of the most distinguished American leaders of the 20th Century.  Marshall’s forethought and strategic vision for this plan provide an outstanding example of highly effective strategic leadership.

Overall, the conference tied together the influence of strategic leadership and its interrelationship with economic, political, military conflict, and stability during the period from 1947-to the present.  The Marshall Plan received some special emphasis as a way to assess these concepts. Finally, we examined the changing roles/competencies needed to exercise strategic leadership through 2040.

2016 Strategic Leadership Conference Program

View Fall 2016 Conference Videos

As our society becomes more and more reliant on technology, new questions arise regarding the role Ethics, Honor, and Leadership play in this ever changing world.

The 2016 VMI Leadership Conference “Ethical Dilemmas in the Digital Age” held at Virginia Military Institute, March 7-8, 2016, explored these new, technologically driven challenges to our individual and national character. This conference addressed ethical dilemmas in national policy and in a society that have arisen as a result of new technologies with a balance of perspectives.

Spring 2016 Leadership Conference Program

View Conference Videos