Students Learn, Receive Insight During The McDonald Conference For Leaders Of Character

By Jorge GarciaApril 7, 2023

With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
1 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
2 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
3 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
4 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
5 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
6 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
7 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
8 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
9 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
10 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
11 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
12 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
13 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
14 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
15 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
16 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
17 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.
18 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia/ USMA PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL

With the theme focused on 'influence without authority,' this year's McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character welcomed a large contingent of leaders from other industries and nations to share with cadets, midshipmen and college students their perspectives on leading with character from March 30-April 2 at the U.S. Military Academy.

The MCLC offers cadets, the faculty at the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership, and the West Point Leadership Center the opportunity to network with top-tier academic institutions worldwide.

"The relationships that the West Point Leadership Center has with these institutions continues to create opportunities for cadets," said Maj. Stephen Fennessy, an instructor at the Department of BS&L. "This event allows the West Point Leadership Center to connect with distinguished leaders, former CEOs, university presidents and other global leaders that generously give their time to support the MCLC."

The conference also welcomed 31 colleges and universities, including international students from South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway.

Through the innovative vision of the Honorable Bob McDonald, USMA Class of 1975 and his wife Diane McDonald, the first MCLC began in 2012, providing cadets and college students worldwide exposure to preeminent leaders and forming enduring partnerships while receiving a premier transformative, short-duration leadership experience. Since then, the conference has impacted over 600 cadets and senior leaders through its explorative and innovative approaches in executing leadership goals, identifying and respecting the valuable skillsets of other colleagues, and staying up to date with timely themes, among other things.

During this year's event, highly accomplished executives, scholars and leaders mentored cadets, midshipmen and college students while tackling exceedingly complex challenges centered on "followership and leading peers from an entry-level," Fennessy said.

"We're trying to bring together young people from diverse experiences and diverse backgrounds while using the department of BS&L to help give them a common leadership experience that focuses on character, and then send them back out around the world to create a network of people, including past classes that could work together to solve the complex problems of the world," Bob McDonald said. “The tough problems the world has can't be solved by any one country or person. They need all of us working together, and that's what we're hoping to enable through this conference."

The event also welcomed special guests such as returning senior fellows Dean of Emerita Howard University School of Education, Leslie Fenwick and President Emeritus of SUNY-Albany and Howard University, H. Patrick Swygert. In addition, Mr. Mark Shapiro, CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Mrs. Seema Hingorani, strategic client and talent engagement lead at Morgan Stanley, also attended the event to lend their expertise to the young hopefuls.

Cadets, midshipmen and students displayed their desire to learn by confronting the unique challenges presented during the event.

Class of 2025 Cadet Jessica Ho was thrilled with her experience as she learned a wide range of leadership skills from a military and civilian perspective.

"It's been a very unique opportunity," Ho said. "I think being at the U.S. Military Academy allowed me to open my mind to military and civilian leadership strategies, which has been a really broadening and unique experience. It's also been really fun getting to meet students from various backgrounds. I definitely enjoyed attending the conference."

Marta Sanz from the University of Navarra in Spain said she was amazed by the sights and sounds of the U.S. Military Academy and was thankful to be able to visit the United States and attend the conference.

"Everything is so new for me because I come from Spain, so just being in the United States is incredible," Sanz said. "Attending this event allowed me to learn so many things about the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard that changed my perspective on the military, and I enjoyed meeting people from all over the world."

The MCLC also featured a musical performance led by the West Point Band as they based their backstage presentation on West Point's theme to 'educate, train and inspire' the Corps of Cadets while incorporating MCLC's theme of 'influence without authority.'

As the band performed a number of classics, Master Sgt. Michael Reifenberg, the strategic plans and assessments coordinator and virtuoso with a saxophone, led the audience with thought-provoking commentary on effective leadership qualities, the importance of perspective and valuing the experience and character of a team member despite race, social standing or religious affiliation.

“One normally thinks of inspiration as leaders at the top inspiring their subordinates. However, it's pretty obvious that inspiration can come from any number of sources," Reifenberg said. "The music that we used on the first half of the performance was meant to get our participants in that frame of mind to tie into this idea of inspiration and how it can come from various places, not just from a leadership perspective."

Reifenberg added that the musical performance and how the band synchronized to create the music is a metaphor for how teamwork is effectively carried out, whether it is a CEO overseeing a strategic business plan with employees or an Army officer executing a time-sensitive mission with Soldiers.

"There's all these little nuances that go into a performance presentation, like the one that we did. Obviously, the conductor guides everyone to see the big picture, but anytime we're playing music as a group, there's this constant give and take where there are hundreds of micro influences that dictate to a very high degree, how somebody chooses to play something, irrespective of the conductor," Reifenberg said. “Those are some of the ideas we tried getting across as we related it to the MCLC theme of ‘influence without authority.’”

As the event culminated, cadets, midshipmen and students left the event with a sense of purpose, ready to apply the tools they acquired at MCLC to real-world scenarios.

"The biggest takeaway I want the cadets, midshipmen and college students to get from this experience is to be more intentional about your leadership, to look at leadership as an obligation, as a responsibility, and as a blessing. You are capable of affecting the life of someone else and need to be very intentional about it," McDonald concluded. "You can only live honorably and lead honorably if you're a leader 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Someone is always watching, so you always need to work hard to make a positive difference in the lives of others."