THE CUNNINGHAM CENTER STORY
The Cunningham Center is a division of Columbus State University and the University System of Georgia,
located in West Central Georgia on the border of Georgia and Alabama. The Cunningham Center opened
its doors in 2004 and is now recognized as a trusted source of leadership and sales
training as well as being a regional favorite as a state of the art conference center.
Columbus, Georgia is a community known for its leadership through a series of unique
public-private partnerships that have converted a small southern mill town to a
progressive southern city full of Cultural Arts. The city boasts of the first consolidated
government in the state and houses Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence. The Cunningham Center capitalizes on all of this as
it is becoming the most dynamic and creative leadership and sales development institution
in the region.
The Center is staffed by a group of professionals experienced in leadership, sales
and conference planning. They are supported by the faculty of CSU and other institutions
as well as subject matter experts from around the country.
The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University annually produces extraordinary leadership conferences to include the Jim Blanchard
Leadership Forum, boasting speakers such as former Secretary of States Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, Speaker
of the House Newt Gingrich, Business Authors John Maxwell and Ken Blanchard and
Foreign Affairs Expert, Thomas Friedman. The Women's Leadership Development Conference, held annually in March is another offering of The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University.
The Cunningham Center's modern and expansive building on the campus of CSU is capable of accommodating
large conferences concurrently with numerous other smaller activities involving
sales and leadership training. The Cunningham Center is equipped with the latest audio-visual technology,
making programs effective and accessible to all. The Cunningham Center staff also takes programs
on the road to accommodate its customers.
The Cunningham Center is also known for its exemplary customer service and quality of food. Packaged
programs enable executives to remain at the center for extended periods of time
participating in development programs and strategic planning and enjoy a relaxing
friendly environment which is typical of a small southern city.
The Cunningham Center staff acknowledges that we will never be as good as we are capable of being.
Therefore, the staff continues to improve its own performance and knowledge through
self-development and research. To continue to improve ourselves and our organization
is critical to the Cunningham Center's success.
Who was John Cunningham?
When John Cunningham was just a boy, the Great Depression was in full swing and
John had to drop out of school to help his mother provide for the family. Fortunately
for John, this was not a difficult task. He never had a problem bringing home extra
Before his death in 2002, Cunningham said during an interview at CSU, "I knew how
to sell right off the bat when I was born - I don't know how, but I knew it."
His determination led to years of self study and reading. This led to a successful
career and the creation of two businesses. One of the only regrets Cunningham cited
was not being able to finish school with a formal education.
After Cunningham's death, his personal notes were found to contain pages and pages
of his recorded thoughts and comments on the sales profession. To preserve this
valuable resource, the Cunningham Sales Institute compiled these remarks in a publication
simply titled, John F. Cunningham - His Thoughts and Comments on Sales.
Carmen James Cavezza, Ph. D.
1st Executive Director (2005-2012)
Ph.D. Political Science, The George Washington University
M.S. International Relations, The George Washington University
M.A. Government, University of Miami (Florida)
B.A. Political Science, The Citadel
Dr. Cavezza retired from the United States Army in October 1994, at the rank of
Lieutenant General. During his service he had two tours of duty in Vietnam, commanded
the 7th Infantry Division (Light) during Operation Just Cause in Panama, commanded
three military installations: Fort Ord, CA, Fort Benning, GA, and Fort Lewis, WA,
and served as the Chief of Infantry.
Upon his retirement he served as the Executive Director of Columbus '96, a non-profit
organization, established to support the 1996 Olympic Softball competition, which
subsequently became the Greater Columbus Sports and Events Council. Thereafter,
he served as city manager for the Columbus Consolidated Government from May 1997,
until assuming his position as Executive Director of the Cunningham Center
from January 2005 to 2012.