John F. Kennedy University Honors World-Class Entrepreneurial Leaders

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John F. Kennedy University’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership (IEL) is honoring two leading California entrepreneurs that exemplify business entrepreneurship with a social conscience with the first annual John F. Kennedy University Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. In addition, two entrepreneurial leaders will be recognized with a Lifetime Leadership Award named after Chuck H. Smith, the former CEO and President of AT&T West. The awards are being presented at a luncheon on Friday, April 20, at the Contra Costa Country Club in Pleasant Hill.

John F. Kennedy University’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership (IEL) is honoring two leading California entrepreneurs that exemplify business entrepreneurship with a social conscience with the first annual John F. Kennedy University Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. In addition, two entrepreneurial leaders will be recognized with a Lifetime Leadership Award named after Chuck H. Smith, the former CEO and President of AT&T West and a long-time Concord resident. The awards are being presented at a luncheon on Friday, April 20, at the Contra Costa Country Club in Pleasant Hill.

The John F. Kennedy Entrepreneur of the Year Award will recognize two honorees:

Wahid Tadros is the President of California Engineering Contractors Inc., a heavy construction contractor that performs major infrastructure construction projects. He has been involved in numerous bridge construction, repair, retrofit projects as well as demolition and removal of a number of various structures including bridges. Simultaneously, Tadros is the managing partner in Half-Price Drapes, a top retailer of online customized drapes with more than 50,000 customers. Wahid, a member of the Keiretsu Forum, is both a tireless entrepreneur as well as a contributor to a broad range of charitable endeavors in the Bay Area.

Jeff Gray is a Sacramento based cutting-edge professional in the field of next-generation cloud based networking and the Chief Executive Officer of Glue Networks. He works closely with Cisco Systems, VMware, HP, and Panduit on data center and cloud computing initiatives. Previously, he was VP Business Development of Yelofin Networks, a hybrid virtual network operator. Jeff is a leader in a field that is revolutionizing the way employees work and communicate but still has time for being involved supporting the not-for-profit world.

The University’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership is also awarding the Chuck H. Smith Lifetime Leadership Award to Tapan Munroe and Mark Thompson in recognition of their lifelong dedication to entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership.

Tapan Munroe is a well known author, speaker, consultant and advisor in economics. His expertise includes innovation economics, energy economics, regional economics and high-tech industry analysis. His current research and writings have focused on the economics of innovation. Most importantly Tapan, a resident of Moraga has been a long-term writer of newspaper columns that have provided a continuous stream of thought-provoking information on business leadership.

Mark Thompson serves as the CEO of Virgin-Unite Entrepreneurship Ventures. He is also a Stanford Scholar and Chairman of the American Express Leadership Series on Facebook for Peter Drucker's Leader to Leader Institute. The series features Jim Collins, Bill Gates, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, and Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. Formerly he served as Charles Schwab's Chief Customer Experience Officer, Chief Communications Officer and Executive Producer of Schwab.com. During his tenure, Schwab's client assets grew ten-fold to more than $800 billion dollars in five million accounts. Mark is involved as a leader in a breadth of activities creating through entrepreneurship opportunities for those least able to afford a good life. He is truly a leader in the business and arts communities.

At the April 20 luncheon, JFK University’s IEL also will be celebrating receipt of a charter membership in Sigma Nu Tau Entrepreneurship Honor Society. Dr. Nancy Church, Distinguished Professor of the State University of New York in Plattsburg and Executive Director of Sigma Nu Tau, will make the presentation. Qualifying entrepreneurship students and JFK University faculty will also be inducted into Sigma Nu Tau.

Bill Wiersma, author of The Power of Professionalism, Randy Williams, founder and CEO of Keiretsu Forum, the world’s largest group of angel investors, and Chuck H. Smith, former CEO of AT&T West will co-host the event together with IEL Director Dr. Raul Deju.

JFK University’s IEL is a leading center in the East Bay aiming to provide educational opportunities and mentoring to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the area. The Institute, based in downtown Concord, offers certificate classes and start-up offices for its student entrepreneurs. It also works with the University’s College of Graduate and Professional Studies in offering an Entrepreneurial Leadership specialization as part of the Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree program.

Chevron Corporation is a lead funding partner for the Institute and serves as a catalyst for the success of our local entrepreneurs. Other IEL major business sector supporters include Heritage Bank of Commerce, Wells Fargo, and AT&T.

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