The Future of Excellence Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference

A day of immersive learning experiences for current and future leaders of the U.S. government and beyond.

May 26, 2020 | The Mayflower Hotel

11th Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference

Apply by Dec. 13, 2019 to present at the 11th Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference on May 26, 2020! Apply at key.american.edu.

Apply Here

Theme: Future of Excellence 
Date: May 26, 2020
Time: TBD

Location: The Mayflower Hotel 

About the conference: 
The Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference brings together public servants from across the country for a day of immersive learning, professional development, reflection and exploration.  This event provides participants with the opportunity to delve into industry trends, leadership practices, new and emerging perspectives on leadership and enhance professional skills. Featuring concurrent sessions, plenary speakers, workshops and networking, the Key Conference has spurred nearly 2,000 public servants to become exemplars of excellence in leadership and service since it began in 2010.

This year's conference will also host the 42nd Annual Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership to honor four senior executives.

For more about sponsorship opportunities, the Request for Session Proposals (RFPs), and a recap of the 10th Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference, please see the information below!

Andrew Bennett presenting at the 10th Key Conference.

Request for Proposals!

Proposals to present at the 11th Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference are due December 13, 2019.

Apply Here

Roger Jones Award For Executive Leadership nominations are open for 2019-2020.  Apply by Feb. 3, 2020
Government employees now eligible for 25% discount in the KEY MPA Program

Request for Proposals Information

Interested in presenting at the Annual Key Conference and gaining access to our growing network of 5,000+ alumni, students and government executives? Then submit your RFP now through December 13, 2019! Below you will find information on the RFP process and application. For more information, please contact the Communication and Special Programs Coordinator, Lam-Anh Le, at lamanh@american.edu or 202-885-6974.

Don Zauderer presenting at the Key Conference

Request for Proposals

Apply to present at the 11th Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference now through December 1, 2019.

Apply Here

Vince Brantley presenting at Key Conference

Speaker Toolkit

The toolkit has information about our audience, presentation requirements, and the venue. 

View Toolkit

Panelists addressing audience at 2019 conference

Request for Proposals Guide

The RFP Guide features an application checklist and sample submission from last year's highest-rated session.

View RFP Guide

10th Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference Review Leadership & Culture | June 12, 2019 | Washington, DC

Collage from the 10th Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference

The Tenth Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference took place at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C. on June 12, 2019.  Hosting over 250 guests and three sponsors, Eagle Hill Consulting, LLCSenior Executives Association and American University School of Public Affairs’ Justice Programs Office, workers from the public and private sectors, students and curious minds convened to explore the year’s theme: Leadership and Culture.

Opening the conference was Dr. Patrick Malone, Key Programs Director, whose discussion on the culture of kindness in the federal workplace, especially following one of its most tumultuous moments and general times of divisiveness. Malone’s focus on the powerful impact kindness can have in the workplace for facilitating collaboration, creative, innovation and overall happiness energized the audience for the day to come.

Conference attendees had the opportunity to attend four breakout sessions throughout the day that fell under one of the following learning tracks: Vision, Networking, Conscious Collective, Diversity & Inclusion, and Communication.

Each track featured sessions focusing on unique and essentials points to contribute to the attendees’ overall understanding of what it means to lead and became an extraordinary leader regardless of their position in or out of the workplace. 

Michele Perez presenting at the Key Conference

Some of the sessions included: Managing Up: How to Succeed with Any Type of Boss with Mary Abbajay, CEO, Careerstone Group; Authentic Networking: How to Network without Being an A****** with Strother Gaines, Speaker, Trainer and Coach, But I’m a Unicorn, Dammit!; Presenting While Gendered: How Men and Women Can Make the Most Speaking Opportunities and Meetings with Meghan Dotter, CEO, Portico Presentations; Revitalizing the Human Spirit at Work with Andrew Bennett, President, Bennett Performance Group; From the “Outside-In” – How Investing in Women Worldwide Led to Investing in Ourselves with Michele Perez, Vice President, Department of Management and Administration, OPIC. All sessions and descriptions can be viewed here.

Presenters challenged attendees to reflect inward as illustrated by Jacqueline Garrick’s examination of whistleblower retaliation in relation to work culture and its symptoms.  Attendees were also presented with unique leadership tools and techniques that stimulated both mind and body as seen in Dr. Nicole Cutts’ session on yoga and managing change.  In the afternoon, Strother Gaines led a session encouraging everyone to be authentic in bringing out their inner networking genius and making the most of networking opportunities. 

With every session, attendees had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the unique stories and knowledge of the presenters. Each presented tools and best practices for how to engage in an evolving workplace and overall landscape while remaining true to one’s core values.

President Burwell at the 2019 Conference

Further deepening the experience, AU President Sylvia Burwell took the stage following lunch and addressed the entire conference, reminiscing about her time in the federal government and the transition outside of that field into her current role. As she recounter her own experiences, she encouraged everyone to reach across the aisle, even in hard times, and to always continue to embody the spirit of public service.

The conference ended with a networking reception featuring karaoke, a DJ and flipbook station. To round off the event, Key also featured signature cocktails for the special occassion - Leadership Journey  and #3 in the Nation.

The team at the Key Executive Leadership Programs invites all to attend the 11th Annual Key executive Leadership Conference next year – date to be determined – that will also host the 42nd Annual Roger Jones Award Ceremony for the 2019-2020 cycle.  Be on the lookout for more information coming soon!

Thank you to our 2019 Key Conference Sponsors!

Click here to read more about our gold sponsor, Eagle Hill Consulting
Click here to read more about our community sponsor, Senior Executives Association
Click here to read more about our community sponsor, Justice Programs Office

2019 Key Conference Scholars

The Key Executive Leadership Programs offers students the opportunity to attend the Annual Key Executive Leadership Conference for free and access to exclusive activities and networking opportunities.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students currently in degree-seeking programs (AU and non-AU) are welcome to apply for the award!
Two students are selected for the award each year. Read about the 2019 Key Conference Scholars below! 

Garrett Ramela, CISA, CGFM, CDFM, DFMCP1 is a senior information systems/financial consultant at Sehlke Consulting, LLC. Sehlke Consulting is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) providing professional services to the US government and commercial clients. He started his career in the Marine Corps working in finance and accounting and is currently supporting the Navy’s information system consolidation effort. He has a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Maryland University College and is pursuing a master’s in finance at American University. He intends to start the Key Executive Leadership MPA this fall.

Saherah Khan is a social justice advocate and a Housing and Outreach Specialist in Washington D.C. She was born and raised in Arlington, Virginia. Saherah is passionate about helping others and has a long-term goal of developing policies that provide equal educational and housing opportunities to all people. Currently, she works closely with the District’s homeless population and connects them with vital resources such as health care, food pantries, employment, and more. The main goal for the clients she serves is to help them secure housing through affordable housing programs. Saherah hopes to begin working in the policy field after completion of her master’s degree. 

To be eligible for consideration to become a Key Conference Scholar, the following information is required:

  • Completed online application
  • Resume/CV
  • Professional Bio (200 words or less)
  • Professional photo (professional-looking photo in .jpg or .jpeg with high resolution is ideal)
  • Photocopy of your current unexpired student ID

The application for the 2020 Key Conference will be available in the coming months. Check back for more details!