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TBI chief, area executives offer ‘True Blue&...

TBI chief, area executives offer ‘True Blue’ leadership tips at event

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director stressed leadership qualities — but not on-the-job stress in solving crimes — in a talk with MTSU students, faculty and staff at the Omicron Delta Kappa True Blue Leadership Day Friday, April 7.

MTSU alumnus Mark Gwyn discussed culture, the climate of the country following racially charged incidents in Missouri, Maryland and Louisiana, job prospects and how, in his opinion, TBI stands for “truth, bravery and integrity” as well as the name of the agency he has served for 13 years.

TBI Director Mark Gwyn, left, spends one-on-one time with Ethan Fesler, a junior criminal justice major from Lebanon, Tenn., April 7 at the ODK True Blue Leadership Day in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. (MTSU photo by Marsha Powers)

TBI Director Mark Gwyn, left, talks with Ethan Fesler, a junior criminal justice major from Lebanon, Tenn., April 7 at the ODK True Blue Leadership Day in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. (MTSU photo by Marsha Powers)

The daylong annual event, held in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, brings noted practitioners from a variety of professions to share their leadership experiences with MTSU students and faculty.

In addition to Gwyn, other speakers included:

  • Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeff Bivins, who discussed “Civility and Humility in Public Service: Are They Dying Characteristics?”
  • Lindy Boots, human resources manager with Becton, Dickinson and Co., who spoke on the topic “What an HR Manager Wants You to Know About Interviewing.”
  • Dusty Doddridge, assistant director with the MTSU Career Development Center, who shared how to write a professional resume.
  • Chris Ediger, leadership consultant and senior associate with GiANT Worldwide, and founder of Go International, whose talk focused on “Why ‘Smarter’ Isn’t Always Better: The True Competitive Advantage That Will Set You Apart when Competing for a Job.”

The ODK True Blue Leadership Day highlights the core values of the “True Blue Pledge” by educating participants about multiple aspects of leadership. ODK is a national honor society that emphasizes both academics and leadership.

MTSU alumnus and TBI Director Mark Gwyn talks about culture and careers in law enforcement April 7 during his session on “Leadership and Law Enforcement” during ODK True Blue Leadership Day. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

TBI Director Mark Gwyn, an MTSU alumnus, discusses law enforcement culture and careers during his session on “Leadership and Law Enforcement” at the April 7 ODK True Blue Leadership Day. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“Truth, bravery and integrity is a lot more important than saying ‘I’m a TBI agent,’” said Gwyn, who is in his third six-year appointment as director and also serves as president of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies board of directors.

“My commitment to leadership is so important,” he added. “You must have ongoing leadership training in whatever position you hold.”

He later explained that leadership also involves an officer becoming “the best agent I can be in law enforcement.”

Senior Lindsay Ruhter of La Vergne, Tennessee, one of a number of criminal justice majors attending Gwyn’s session and a Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department employee for about a year, said she “really liked the fact he believed in servant leadership and that’s what he enforces.”

Junior criminal justice major Zach Espino of Big Sandy, Tennessee, said Gwyn’s talk provided “good advice — something to live by. I like what he said about culture. It is at an individual level, not the agency.”

Gwyn fielded questions from the audience about careers in the TBI and one regarding the recent nationwide Amber Alert involving a teenager from Columbia, Tennessee.

“When people come to the TBI, they stay,” he said, citing the agency’s 1.85 percent turnover rate. His recommendation: apply and first work in local law enforcement, get an entry-level TBI position or serve as a TBI intern.

Marion Gwyn, a specialist in MTSU’s Information Technology Division and sister-in-law of Mark Gwyn, was among the audience members.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)


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