On November 1, Harford Community College and The Dresher Foundation brought together more than 300 leaders and emerging leaders from the business, government, and education sectors to provide input on how best to maximize the full potential of Harford County. The Connect Harford Symposium was held at the APG Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College.

The day kicked off with keynote speaker Admiral Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.), who was the principal military advisor to President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011. Drawing on his own experiences, Admiral Mullen discussed how leaders can collaborate throughout the community to spark new ideas, promote growth, and create a promising future.

Admiral Mullen said, “I’m delighted that we really are, at the center of this today, building options for our young people. That the local leaders here in Harford County are here to do this tells me you’re clearly headed in the right direction.” He further commended the gathering on the collaboration between the public and private sectors that was being undertaken in the day’s endeavors and spoke of the importance and value of diverse views.

Jim Dresher, Trustee, The Dresher Foundation, stated, “The Dresher Foundation was proud to partner with Harford Community College in the first-ever Connect Harford symposium. Bringing together leaders in business, government, and education to share ideas and work toward common goals will benefit our community. We are fortunate to have Admiral Mike Mullen, as our initial speaker. His presence highlights the importance of Aberdeen Proving Ground and the entire defense industry as important elements of our future. We hope this will become an important annual event in Harford County.”

Dr. Dennis Golladay, President of Harford Community College, said “We expect this symposium to be the first of many. Aptly named Connect Harford, leaders from a wide swath of businesses and institutions came together in an interactive environment to exchange ideas on issues important to them and the future of the county, while working together for the common good.”

During the day, breakout sessions were held on such topics as Harford Business: Building a Diverse Economic Base; Harford People: Establishing Harford County as a Sought-After Place to Live, Work, and Play; Harford Education: Accelerating STEM and Preparing K-20 for Citizenship, Leadership, and Career; and Bridging the Silos: Removing Barriers to Open the Lines of Communication. In addition, there was information sharing between groups, as well as a discussion about the future and what action needs to be taken to ensure that Harford County becomes a destination for knowledge workers by 2025.

Partnering organizations included APG Federal Credit Union, Army Alliance, City of Aberdeen, City of Havre de Grace, Harford Community College, Harford Community College Foundation, Inc., Harford County Chamber of Commerce, Harford County Office of Economic Development, Harford County Public Library, The Dresher Foundation, and Town of Bel Air.