Speaker at Event Causes Sponsor to Cringe

Speaker at event

Conferences, seminars, and other events often have inspirational speakers to motivate attendees. These individuals provide insight and knowledge that supports the event and offers the unique perspective of the speaker. For one sponsor of a particular conference in TN, a planned speaker at the engagement became more of an obstacle than a benefit.

An entrepreneurship conference scheduled this year in Memphis, TN, relies on the generosity of sponsors to support the financial obligations of the event. FedEx has been a sponsor of this event in the past, and planned to do so again until it heard about the speaker lineup. That’s when it found out about a convicted felon scheduled to take the stage.

The questionable individual was convicted of murder in 1993, but was later exonerated of the crime in 2011. Citing concerns with the planned speaker, FedEx withdrew its sponsorship of the conference.

Event organizers managed to find alternative sponsors for the event and continued with their planned speaker.

Do you think a company should consider the criminal background of a speaker who was eventually exonerated when deciding to sponsor a program?



  1. Grannybunny

     /  March 15, 2013

    I certainly think a company should consider a speaker’s background, but question whether someone who’s been exonerated should be disqualified.

  2. I agree, a company should consider a speakers background. However, since the man had been exonerated seems to me the sponsor was unfairly judging him.

  3. Jonn

     /  March 21, 2013

    The company is trying to avoid any negative press with this guy, but if he didn’t do it, what’s the harm of sponsorship? There have been quite a few people exonorated from DNA evidence collected many years ago and only recently analyzed with modern technology. It’s bad enough to lose years of life in a prison for a crime somebody didn’t commit, but to lose future opportunities too is new crime in itself.

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