An Academic Achiever
Though one could guess from Ron’s physical stature that he might have been an athlete, his arena was the classroom. In Hampton Virginia where he was born, his academic achievements in high school qualified him for membership in the National Honor Society and the Math and Language Honor Societies as well. He was numbered among the top ten in his graduating class and achieved the distinction of National Merit Semi-finalist (attained by less than 1% of high school seniors). Ron went on to graduate with honors from Amherst College, Amherst Massachusetts in 1975. He also studied a year abroad in Paris, while living with a French family. His fluency in French has opened great doors of opportunity for him to speak in many French African nations.
A Corporate Success with IBM
Ron’s successful career with IBM spanned 11 years (1977-1988). He was qualified in the areas of Inventory Management, Distribution Management Accounting Systems and Customer Relations Management. The years at IBM groomed him for greater life challenges that were to follow. The experience at IBM also provided him the opportunity to hone his presentation and speaking skills. It was at IBM that Ron learned creativity, inventiveness, excellence, and self-confidence. “My experience at IBM taught me to manage large complex challenges. We began where a task was thought to be impossible to accomplish by everyone else. At IBM there was no such thing as can’t be done. Most of all, IBM taught me to THINK, …to THINK outside of the box”. Besides being named Rookie of the Year at IBM, he was consistently a top performer and excelled in all aspects of marketing and engineering. He also worked with other information companies.
A Major Life Transition
In 1991, Ron left the corporate arena in search of significance beyond the level of success he had previously experienced. After spending a few years searching for new opportunities, he began to travel extensively in Africa. The exposure to Africa opened new possibilities to use God-given talent to make an impact on the lives of people in other cultures in need of upliftment. “In Africa I felt that I had been uniquely prepared to make significant contributions. My life served as a bridge to facilitate social exchange between previously separated people groups of South Africa. As an African American I felt that I had lived through a similar time in history and had acquired insights that are useful in succeeding in an atmosphere of transition. It was a joy to be able to help others navigate through a time of great change.”
Through an extraordinary set of circumstances, Ron and his family took up residence in South Africa in 1996. He has lived until just recently in Pretoria with his wife Sandra and their three children, Jonathan, Brandon and Amber. For several years Ron was the director of Bethesda Business Development Center, an organisation dedicated to equipping previously disadvantaged South Africans for entrepreneurial and corporate opportunities with an emphasis on life skills and business development training. He has been active in seminars, talks, business development projects and networking at local and international levels to focus attention on the needs of South Africa. He regularly entertained visitors to this nation to introduce them to opportunities to make similar contributions.
Ron Bailey is an eloquent and passionate speaker with his own unique brand of humor. His life has been a tapestry of challenge and achievement, tragedy and transition, victory and determination. He speaks from a rich background of experience inspiring audiences with his own first hand account of holding on to dreams in the midst of adversity. Realizing his greatest gift is that of communicating, speaking, persuading and conveying ideas, Ron felt the time had come to expand into motivational and inspirational speaking.
It was in the process of developing this new area that he met Regardt van Denbergh, a well known South African film director in Johannesburg, South Africa. Regardt was looking for someone with “presence and a voice” to present and narrate his newest film, ‘The Lazarus Phenomenon’. Within a few weeks of accepting Regardt’s offer, filming began and a whole new dimension opened up in Ron’s life. Since the release of Lazarus he has continued to develop as a voice artist and has narrated several other documentaries. He completed a dramatic role in ‘The Silent Fall’, a South African film dealing with the AIDS pandemic released in late 2006. Ron is looking forward to participating in more films in the future.
Ron is currently president of the Gettysburg Black Heritage Center and Museum in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. This project is in its early stages of development and aims at celebrating the lives and accomplishments of African Americans in Gettysburg leading up to and during the Civil War. Tours, living histories and an eventual Heritage Center and Museum are being planned to unveil the amazing story of the survival and contributions of the African Americans who witnessed the events of the war that changed the course of the nation in one of America’s most well known cities, Gettysburg Pennsylvania.
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