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Texas communities benefit from knowledge gained by first responders at annual leadership symposium

Jan. 11—SAN MARCOS — The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Leadership Development Symposium returned to San Marcos, January 8-10. The annual symposium, which celebrated its 16th year, enhances the leadership skills of the emergency response community and offers a robust environment for leadership education and development in a variety of important areas, a news release said.

Of the 1,374 attendees at the symposium, about 95% were from Texas, representing 133 Texas counties and 318 Texas cities. Presenters from diverse backgrounds — academic and corporate leaders, veterans, medical and fire service professionals, entrepreneurs, and motivational speakers — all offered a wide range of fresh perspectives, benefiting everyone in public service.

Sessions addressed first responder mental and physical health and wellness; successful leadership practices for a multi-generational workforce; how communications and workplace culture impact decision-making; and innovative team development methods, among others.

Keynote speakers included Darryl Strawberry, former major league baseball player, four-time World Series champion and cancer survivor; Brigadier General (Ret.) Patrick R. Michaelis, 46th Commandant of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets; Jessica Buchanan, teacher, author, and kidnapping survivor; and Christian "Boo" Boucousis, author, former fighter pilot and businessman, as well as San Antonio and Austin area fire chiefs and firefighters.

"The symposium is vital to the state of Texas," Les Stephens, Fire Chief for the city of San Marcos and a partner in hosting the event, said in the release. "It fills a need that isn't being filled anywhere else. We have certifications, formal education and fire service education conferences, but we don't have another event like this one that is completely devoted to building better leaders."

Training Manager of the Leadership Development Symposium, Sean Fay, agreed, "There is no other event that exposes fire service professionals to cutting edge leadership issues. It fills a huge need for the Texas Fire Service and beyond as we seek to ensure we are creating servant leaders for generations to come."

The symposium offers training at no cost for Texas first responders, and attendees come from around the state to benefit from this training. The 2025 Leadership Development Symposium is scheduled for January 20-22, 2025, at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center in Frisco.

For more information about TEEX, visit TEEX.org