2017 SAAB National Conference Speakers
Mr. Leon Ford, A Pittsburgh BMe Leader
Often times the path to greatness is a continuous battle, but for Leon Ford it became a path of strength where many others would have found destruction.
Leon Ford, born March 16th 1993, has become a community leader, social activist, motivational speaker, mentor, artist and symbol of distinction in a very short amount of time. Despite his youth, Leon's story encompasses more triumph than the majority may encounter within a lifetime.
On November 11th 2012, at the tender age of 19, Leon was pulled over by a Pittsburgh police officer in what seemed to be a routine traffic stop. In the process, the Officer mistook Leon for someone involved in another crime and the traffic stop resulted in Leon being wrongfully shot five times leaving him paralyzed. While Leon's life changed forever, the acting officer was able to maintain his title and work within the police force.
Instead of facing this tragedy with a broken spirit Leon went on to develop a network of social reform and fight to see his, and countless others like him, received justice. For the average person this devastating event could, understandably, evoke a lifetime of Post Traumatic response to a common narrative in the African American community but Leon's brilliant resilience served as a revolutionary act.
Leon has gone on to inspire mass groups of people, garnish a vast following that extends internationally, work with the youth, offer life coaching experiences, and embody a Divinity of prosperity. His power to continue with a joyful spirit has allowed him the ability to reach heights that he himself could never fathom. Although, he was most undeserving of his fate he has found a humility and understanding that surpasses all commonality. When you speak to the heart of man you are able to see the equality of life, and from there you can cultivate a change that will affect all the generations to come. Leon Ford is the catalyst for that change.
Dr. Joe Johnson, CEO, The Johnson Group
Dr. Joe Johnson is a former standout college athlete who understands the importance of education and developing individuals in as many ways as possible.
As a Licensed School Counselor, he has worked in a variety of K-12 school settings but has also done extensive work with undergraduate and graduate populations, corporate organizations, and many community settings.
Serving as an Educator, Mentor, Trainer, Personal Development Coach, and Entrepreneur Leader across the country, Dr. Johnson continues to transform the lives of individuals and organizations by shifting mindsets which translates into purposeful thinking, acting, and living.
As the author of the books “Pursue Your Purpose Not Your Dreams” and “The College Kids” which is one of the first bilingual books in the country about college for elementary school aged students, Dr. Johnson is excited to spread his message of versatility, purpose, and self-esteem to the world. His personal story is captivating and his charming ability to engage his audience with humor and authenticity is one of a kind. These opportunities give Johnson the platform to consistently serve and add value to the world.
Known around the country as the man with best smile in the world, Dr. Joe Johnson is always excited to watch the transition into one's PURPOSE!
Bakari Sellers, Lawyer, Activist, CNN Commentator
Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent State Representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation. In 2014 he was the Democratic Nominee for Lt. Governor in the state of South Carolina.
Earning his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College, where he served as student body president, and his law degree from the University of South Carolina, Sellers has followed in the footsteps of his father, civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers, in his tireless commitment to service taking championing progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity.
His impressive list accomplishment in addition to having served on President Barack Obama's South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election, Sellers is widely considered to be a rising star within the Democratic Party and leading voice for his generation. That coupled with his uncommon ability to reach across the aisle and get things done has led to numerous accolades including being named to TIME Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2010 as well as 2014 and 20015 “The Root 100” list of the nation’s most influential African-Americans.
He has served as a featured speaker at events for the National Education Association, College Democrats of America National Convention, the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Sellers practices law with the Strom Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, SC and is a Political Commentator at CNN. He is married to Dr. Ellen Rucker-Sellers.