2018 Keynote Address

Get it On! What it Means to Lead the Way

Thomas-KeniKeni Thomas
Former Sargent of Bravo Company of the 3rd Ranger Batallion, award-winning Nashville recording artist, and spokesperson for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

As a member of Bravo Company of the 3rd Ranger Batallion, Sg’t Keni Thomas was deployed to Mogadishu Somalia as part of a special operations package called Tasked Force Ranger. Their mission was to find and capture a criminal warlord named Mohammed Farrah Aideed. Outnumbered 10 to 1, the men of TFR distinguished themselves in an 18-hour fire fight that would later be recounted in the highly successful book and movie Blackhawk Down. 19 Americans died and 78 were wounded.

Keni got out of the Army to pursue his music career and now works full time as an award winning Nashville recording artist. His band, Cornbread, was featured in the movie Sweet Home Alabama and regularly tours with the USO to perform for our military personnel serving in the Middle East.

As an entertainer, Keni has been recognized by congress, the White House, and was recently inducted into the VFW Hall of Fame for his dedicated work on behalf of our veterans and military families.

Keni is also very proud to be a national spokesperson for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college educations to the children of our special operations personnel killed in combat or training. Keni Thomas is a graduate of the University of Florida, a recipient of the American Patriot Award and the Bronze Star for Valor.

You will learn: 

  • Leadership: Training and planning will prepare the team for the mission. But, the mission’s execution is about leadership – every person at every level. General Garrison oversaw the entire package while Private David Floyd was responsible for himself, but each carried responsibility. “Leadership is not a position…it is the example you set!”
  • Training: Training and testing are vital. Tough, realistic training demands that every team member constantly seeks to improve. Preparation will define your performance. “Train as You Fight Fight as You train”
  • Planning: A defined plan is essential to success. Rangers are constantly defining and refining plans for various scenarios. Who, What, Where, How? Planning and revisiting helps avoid complacency and prepares the team to act. “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”

Photo Gallery