KEYS TO SUCCESS
ASHLAND — Area leaders will share their advice for success at the Young Men’s Conference on Tuesday, March 12, at Ashland Community and Technical College’s Technology Drive Campus.
They will join keynote speaker Gerardo Mejia in presenting leadership, education and development tips to high-school sophomore boys from Eastern Kentucky.
Mejia is a rapper, singer and actor who later became a recording industry executive, and more recently a pastor. Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, he moved to Southern California with his family when he was 12 years old. He would soon become an overnight success in the film and music industry. He first came to be known all over the world as a musician in 1991 when his album track “Rico Suave” was played in the film Mo’ Ritmo and made its way to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
Gerardo was the first artist ever signed to Interscope Records before the days of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. He has recorded many songs in English as well as Spanish and has been referred to as the “Latin Elvis” and “Latin Frank Sinatra.”
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Gerardo had a variety of acting roles. Most notably, he had parts in the original “21 Jump Street” TV series and the hit film “Can’t Buy Me Love.” After Gerardo’s success as an artist, he continued to work behind the scenes as an A&R executive for nearly a decade. He discovered Enrique Iglesias and Bubba Sparxxx and signed them to Interscope Records. In 2014, a VH1 family reality series titled “Suave Says” featured Gerardo, his wife Kathy, their daughters Bianca and Nadia, their son Jaden, and other family members.
Gerardo now lives in Ashland with his wife Kathy and is a pastor at the House of Grace church. Kathy is originally from Ironton, Ohio, attended Marshall University, was Miss West Virginia USA 1989, and recently developed the Eternal Yoga studio in downtown Ashland.
This year’s emcee is, Wes Thompson, Ashland resident and owner of the Whiskey Tango Creative Group advertising agency. He also works as creative director for Wolf Advertising based out of Charlotte, N.C., and has a social media original content production-based company known as The Social Rip, along with friend Dave Daniel. Wes also serves as president of Ashland In Motion, a nonprofit whose goal is to revitalize business and local engagement with Downtown Ashland.
Thompson will also lead a breakout session with Daniel called “Social Media: Digital Advertising’s Impact on Traditional Advertising.”
Other breakout sessions will cover issues for young men ranging from leadership and career planning to character traits and girls.
Some of the sessions include:
• What Mom and Dad Didn’t Tell You about Girls” with Allison Biggs, United States Probation Officer; and Amanda Clark, City of Ashland Commissioner and Vice President of Ashland Alliance
• “Locker Room Culture” with Dr. Andy Gilliland, Sports Medicine Physician, King’s Daughters Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
• “Leadership from the U.S. Army Perspective” with Michael “Mike” Graese, Ret. Col. and City of Ashland City Manager
• “Don’t Be a Chicken, Be a Lion About Your Future” with Kevin Harrison, CEO/President of Choices and Changes;
• “Top 5 Leadership Lessons in Juggling” with Dr. Scott Hill, director at KDMC
• “Being Broke is No Joke — Get Money Smart” with Jason Whitlatch, regional business development officer at City National Bank
• “At the Crossroads, Now What? with inmates from the Federal Correctional Institution, Ashland
• “Advocacy” with Marshall Tyson, marketing supervisor at Pathways
• “Overcoming Poverty: A Personal Story” with Jim Gifford, CEO and senior editor at the Jesse Stuart Foundation
• “Advanced Integrated Technology, 3D Printing and Welding” with ACTC program coordinators Mike Tackett, Tyler Stevens and Curtis Bowman
• “The Future of Technology in Criminal Justice” with Beverly Sharp, ACTC Criminal Justice program coordinator; and a panel of other criminal justice professionals
• “The Power of Communication” with Glenn Puit, executive editor of the Ashland Daily Independent.