“Find Your Why”: Congressional Award Foundation Hosts Entrepreneurship Panel for Gold Medalists


Rachel Mallory, Manager of Corporate Partnerships


October 7, 2020

Washington, DC

Last Saturday, The Congressional Award Foundation hosted an interactive “Entrepreneurship” Panel as part of the first-ever virtual Gold Medal Ceremony, which honored 478 incredible young leaders with the highest recognition bestowed by Congress.

The panel was moderated by Romero Brown, of Romero Brown Consulting, who led a thoughtful discussion with experienced government and industry leaders, including:

  • Congressman Jim Himes, Represents Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District
  • Brad Knox, Aflac
  • Chiling Tong, National Asian American Chamber of Commerce (ACE)
  • Dr. Brian K. Johnson, Advance Higher Education, LLC
  • Kirk Spahn, Institute for Civic Leadership

Panelists shared valuable life skills and strategies for success in the business world. Attendees were also given the opportunity to ask their own questions related to entrepreneurship and their personal goals.

Finding purpose, networking and learning, and promoting a diverse workplace were highlights of the discussion.

“Find your why,” shares Dr. Brian K. Johnson (Advance Higher Education, LLC), referring to the importance of understanding your purpose for going into business. Dr. Johnson is a seasoned educational administrator and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in higher education, as a professor, consultant, and business owner.

“Be curious and stay curious – always learn,” was advice given by Brad Knox, who joined Aflac in 2006 and is responsible for leading Aflac’s Federal Relations team.

Panelists discussed the value of developing marketing skills and finding opportunities to network with others. Congressman Jim Himes shared how business prepared him for politics, “In business, learn how to communicate and market.”

How can young people explore entrepreneurship? Kirk Spahn of the Institute for Civic Leadership is a fourth-generation educator with more than two decades in the field. To foster creativity, Spahn shares the importance of giving students the environment to thrive – “Encourage the students to dare to dream and dare to take risks.”

The value of diversity in all areas of business was emphasized. Chiling Tong (National ACE) has intensive experience in economic and business development, with a focus on enhancing the growth of minority business enterprises. Tong shares, “Private institutions can implement changes in their company by creating initiatives that foster more diverse and inclusive work environments – companies that establish diversity programs can expect a more innovative office with more creativity and higher retention rates.

The virtual Gold Medal Ceremony, usually held in person at The Capitol Visitor Center, is one of several steps taken by The Congressional Award Foundation to support and celebrate America’s youth during the pandemic. To learn more about some of the other ways The Congressional Award has responded to the pandemic and upcoming programs and updates, visit us at our website.

For reporters working on national stories and/or members of TV, radio, new media broadcasting:

Bethie Woodall, Director of Events & Strategic Communications


Erica Heyse, National Director


For reporters working on local stories, partner organization/congressional staff inquiries, or general information:

Matt Tick, Program Director