International Summit 2016: Recap!

Discover Your Destiny, Adventure Awaits was the theme for the 2016 International Summit, held in Tucson, Arizona.  Tucson provided a beautiful backdrop for the Summit, a skyline of rolling hills dotted with cacti and Sonora wildlife.  The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa was an oasis atop a mountain overlooking the city of Tucson.  Around 400 members, advisors, alumni, partners and friends attended the Summit from 28 July – 31 July.

Thursday, 28 July- First day of conference.

The delegates arrived throughout the day and visited registration to receive their name tags, T shirts, conference supplies and goodies.  The summit wing of the hotel was lined with fun games like giant Jenga, jumbo bowling, board games and the “Amazing Race”.  The Amazing Race gave delegates a chance to get to know one another through Minute-to-Win-It games and activities with an Arizona theme.  All regions and countries met before opening session to mingle with the other delegates in their regions as well as get hyped up in their regional colors before Opening Session.

The Happy Mariachi Trio mariachi band welcomed the delegates into the Opening Session. Each region walked in dressed in their colors.  The Associate Directors ran on stage and did regional shout outs before introducing our Opening Session speaker, MrJeffDess.


MrJeffDess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. Born and raised in New York City, he received his B.A and M.A in English Literature from St. John’s University. MrJeffDess is the author of four books of poetry. His forthcoming book, Trill Motivation (2016) will present the freshest and coolest look at leadership and motivation that’s ever been seen. He has performed, spoken and presented across the nation and internationally at various institutions and universities. With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt, MrJeffDess continues to help students reach their highest potential.  He currently serves as the Assistant Director of Campus Life at New Jersey City University and vows to always keep it funky.

MrJeffDess taught us about achieving our legacy.  It’s one thing to be a great leader but it’s another thing to set the bar to unseen heights. To reach a new level of leadership, you must achieve a legacy slam.  MrJeffDess used music and dancing to get the crowd pumped up and energized for the first night of Summit.


Michael Crossland, the Closing Session speaker was the emcee for the networking event.  Michael set up Minute-to-Win-It games for the entire audience to compete in. Even our Executive Director, Brad Rainey, joined in on the fun.

After the networking event, Advisors were honored at an Advisor VIP event, dedicated to appreciating all of their hard work and efforts throughout the year.  A delicious fiesta-themed dinner was enjoyed before a presentation of the advisor tenure awards.


Friday 29 July- Second Day of Conference

Friday started with a light breakfast and the Advisor Plenary Session.  The Plenary Session was an update from headquarters as well as an open forum to ask questions about the society.  After breakfast, workshops began.  Workshops varied from personal/professional development, chapter specific and Advisor specific.  Titles included: Building Your Personal Brand, What the Five Elements of Hip-Hop Can Teach You about Leadership, Servant Leadership, Be an ACTion HERO, Five Questions Chapters Must Ask for Success, and Secrets of Advisors.

After the first two workshops, delegates received a boxed lunch and were able explore the GK Expo, take pictures at the photo booth, play Xbox 360 games, meet with companies and Graduate schools and more!


After the second set of workshops concluded, delegates were free to explore the hotel as well as downtown Tucson.

Saturday 30 July- Final Day

Saturday started with a light breakfast before heading into the Service Kick-Off.  The project started with a 45 minute presentation from Ben’s Bells founder Jeanette Mare.  She spoke on how the organization came about as well as how kindness fits into our everyday life and can lead to social change in communities.   Ben’s Bells is a local organization whose mission is to “inspire, educate and motivate people to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities.”


Recent research demonstrates that kindness benefits our physical and mental health, and that recognizing kindness in others increases a person’s happiness and satisfaction. But just as solving a calculus problem requires advanced math skills, the challenges of daily life require advanced kindness skills. By focusing on kindness and being intentional in our personal interactions, we can improve our ability to connect.

After the program everyone was split into groups.  Four groups were participating in Ben’s Bells activities consisting of painting pieces for Ben’s Bells, learning communications games, having discussions, etc.  Activities were meant so chapters can use them to create their own SPARK projects.  One group created math and reading flashcards to be used at next year’s Golden Key Kiddos Camp.

Our goal was that our chapters would be able to learn from as well as form a new SPARK contact through Ben’s Bells.  We hope this new knowledge can be taken to local schools, libraries and community programs to be shared with local children.  We feel that Ben’s Bells is a great opportunity to teach real world preparedness lessons such as citizenship and anti-bullying both in within their schools and communities.

After service, delegates were released for lunch.  There were two sets of workshops after lunch and plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful amenities of the JW Marriott.

At 5:00 on Saturday evening, the Red Carpet reception began.  Ticket holders were able to mix and mingle with Michael Crossland before the Gala began.  Michael continued to keep everyone laughing and enjoying themselves at the event.

An hour later, the doors to Gala were opened and delegates dressed in cocktail attire began to find their seats.  There was a presentation of the Key Chapter awards by Executive Director Brad Rainey, ILC President Harriett Watkins and Outgoing Board President Anita Miller.  After the presentation, dinner began.  While dinner played, we were graced with the gorgeous piano playing of a few talented Golden Key members.  At the conclusion of dinner, Michael Crossland was welcomed to the stage.


Diagnosed with aggressive life threatening cancer before his first birthday doctors told Michael school and sport were not options. Infection and fatigue were too great a risk. His only wish was to lead a normal life and be able to do all the things that other ‘normal’ kids took for granted every day.

Now, an accomplished businessman, Australian of the Year finalist, Australia Day Ambassador, Camp Quality Ambassador and international hall of fame inductee, Michael inspires many people from all walks of life with his story and inspiration of believing in yourself and achieving impossible dreams. Michael has an absolute passion and belief in people’s ability to change direction and become who they truly want to be and achieve success.

We then had the amazing opportunity to induct Michael as an official staff member since he was inducted as an honorary member at last year’s International Summit.  The best surprise of the night was when Executive Director, Brad Rainey told Michael about the creation of the Michael Crossland Scholarship which will allow Golden Key members the opportunity to travel to Haiti and work at Michael’s school for 10 days.


“The world is in good hands with the future leaders from Golden Key.”

-Michael Crossland

The overwhelming response from delegates was that Michael was one of the most inspirational speakers they have ever heard. “I loved Michael Crossland. He energized me in a new way and made me want to do more for the world,” one delegate said.

The night was ended with an official close to the Summit by Harriet Watkins.  The lights were dimmed and the music played as delegates hit the dance floor for the rest of the night.


Golden Key would like to send a huge thank you to everyone that attended and helped with the 2016 International Summit! We hope you had an amazing time. For those who missed out, we hope you will join us in 2017.

Click here to watch the Summit Recap video!

About Golden Key

Golden Key is the world's largest collegiate honor society. Membership into the Society is by invitation only and applies to the top 15% of college and university sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as top-performing graduate students in all fields of study, based solely on their academic achievements. As an international honor society with more than 400 chapters at colleges and universities around the world, Golden Key is committed to a high standard of scholastic achievement, and an ethos of integrity, innovation, respect, collaboration and diversity.