As Alonzo Kelly stood behind the speaker’s podium at Fort Drum, a U.S. Army base in northern New York state, he looked out over the group of military personnel — fully aware that any one of them could be deployed at a moment’s notice.
“To be in the room with 600 military men and women, I’ll never be able to put into words how honored I felt,” said Kelly, the Director of Graduate Business at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc.
Kelly, a resident of Howard, recently presented leadership training seminars to U.S. Army battalion members and gave the keynote speech at Fort Drum’s annual Saint Barbara’s Day Ball.
The Army base, located not far from the Canadian border, named its ball for the patron saint of artillerymen. The event is an opportunity for service men and women to reconnect with their loved ones, celebrate successes and give thanks, said Kelly, who’s also a motivational speaker, author and Internet radio show host.
Military balls are known for their formal, military-focused guest speakers, and it is unusual to bring in a non-military speaker, said 2nd Lt. Michael Harayda, Public Affairs Officer for the 2nd Battalion 15th Field Artillery Regiment.
“For our event we were looking for someone to offer us a new perspective on leadership,” Harayda said. “Mr. Kelly presented us a new way of bringing our leadership skills to everyday situations, whether we are at the workplace or with our families.”
Kelly said that during his visit to Fort Drum on Dec. 5, he shared lessons in leadership that he learned from his grandmother, including having the courage to commit to a selfless cause and persevering in the face of obstacles.
The invitation to speak came about through Lt. Col. Kevin Jackson, battalion commander, a friend from Kelly’s days at St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary.
“It was as much of an honor being asked to speak as it was an honor seeing his journey,” Kelly said.
To remember his visit, Kelly was presented with a unique memento — a snowshoe inscribed with words of thanks for sharing his “wisdom and knowledge” — from the officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers of the regiment.
“It was just an amazing experience,” Kelly said.