Jessica Cox

Jessica is recognized internationally as an inspirational keynote speaker. Born without arms, Jessica Cox could have succumbed to the low expectations that ushered her into this world. In spite of them all, she earned two black belts in Taekwondo, graduated from college, and learned to swim, drive a car, fly an airplane, surf, scuba dive, and live independently using her feet in ways others who take their hands for granted can only imagine. She holds the title of the first person without arms to get a black belt in the American Taekwondo Association and the Guiness World Record for the first pilot to fly with her feet.

However, Jessica’s greatest triumph in life stands far above any physical feat. It is her unrepentant regard for herself as a whole person, her high degree of self-acceptance that gives her freedom and power to insist that society accept her, too, just as she is.

Accolades

  • Guinness World Record: The First Armless Person in the World Ever to Have Obtained a Pilot’s License, 2011
  • AOPA LIVE Pilots Choice Award 2010: Most Watched Female Aviator
  • Filipino Women’s Network: 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the U.S., 2009
  • Published in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, 2009
  • The Filipino American Journal Award of Excellence, Outstanding Filipino Award, 2008

TOPICS

When Jessica first walks on stage, the audience has no idea that she doesn’t have arms. Carefully hidden underneath a jacket, she has on her prosthetic arms. Minutes into the introduction, she removes them and begins her speech rightfully titled:

Disarming the Impossible! Corporate Keynote:
Turning “Impossible” into “Accomplishment”
What limits people in your group from attaining their highest potential? How can they push limitations aside?
Jessica believes that by combining creativity, persistence, and fearlessness, nothing is impossible. In her presentation, she digs deep into her experiences living armless in a two-handed world. She shows how these three qualities helped her achieve the seemingly impossible.
Jessica’s elements stem from answering such questions as:

  • Are you letting your fears stand in the way of your opportunities?
  • Is it easier to come up with an excuse than a creative solution to a challenge?
  • What handicaps are you-and others-creating that you don’t need?
  • How soon should you give up when confronted with a difficult challenge?

Get Ready to Turn your “I can’t” into “I can!” and “I will!” Youth Keynote: Embracing Differences
Every person on this earth is “different” in one way or another and in one form or another has endured pressure to conform under the threat of rejection and isolation. Students experience the constant pressure to “fit in.” Jessica shares the struggle of masking her difference growing up in a two-handed world but then realizing the importance of being true to who we are as individuals. In order to be a good leader, Jessica believes it is critical to stand up for who it is we are, stand out every opportunity we have, and to stand proud of our differences!

Thinking Outside the Shoe
As a person who has never viewed herself as a victim of her condition, Jessica shares in her speeches humerous stories of struggle and success living in a “two-handed” world.  She provides critical insight on how to best approach a challenge, redefining the concept of innovative thinking.  She helps people reconnect with their own inner strengths and aptitudes.  Jessica believes in combining creativity, desire, persistence and fearlessness; with them, nothing is impossible.  In her presentation, she will dig deep into her excperiences living armless in a two-handed world and share how these four elements helped her achieve the seemingly impossible.

Jessica’s points stem from answering such questions as:

  • Why is it more important to “fit in” than to stand out and be different?
  • Do students act based on what everyone else is doing?
  • Who is responsible for standing up for who we are as individuals?
  • Why are we so worried about what everyone else thinks?

Full Biography

Jessica Cox was born without arms. The doctors do not know why she was born “differently-abed.” But she does. Jessica has made achievements with her feet that most people only dream of. Now she shares her story with people around the world.

Born in 1983 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Jessica has learned to live her life with her feet. There were many questions at the time about whether Jessica would be able to live a “normal” life. However, Jessica’s father has said he never shed a tear about her birth condition. He had full confidence in her potential. With the support of her parents and family, Jessica became confident in herself as an adult and continued to explore the world with her feet.

As a child, Jessica studied dance in her home town. When the first performance arrived, she asked to be put in the back row. Her dance teacher told her there was no back row. Tentatively she took the stage with the other students and performed her routine. When she finished, the applause from the audience gave her encouragement and the confidence to continue dancing for 14 years.

Jessica’s parents eventually met a Taekwondo instructor named Jim Cunningham. His response when told of her birth condition was that she would be more than physically able and that only her attitude could hold her back. At the age of 14, Jessica earned her first Black Belt in the International Taekwondo Federation.

After graduating from high school, Jessica attended the University of Arizona where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. When talking about her degree, she frequently explains that psychology credits the way people think has a greater impact on their lives than a physical limitation.

During college, Jessica found a club of the American Taekwondo Association and resumed training in the sport. Even though Jessica already had one black belt in a different style, she had to relearn all of the color belt material. The instructors created a curriculum that would be accessible to any future arm less students. Jessica then became the first arm less person to earn a black belt in the ATA.
Jessica’s most famous accomplishment was learning how to fly. It took three states, four airplanes, two flight instructors and a discouraging year to find the right aircraft: a 1946 415C Ercoupe Airplane. She received the Guinness World Record for being the first person certified to fly an airplane with only their feet.

Jessica now works as a motivational speaker. She travels the world sharing her story and encouraging people to be creative and innovative with the mantra “Think outside the shoe.

Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton, at the age of 13 survived a 14-foot tiger shark attack off the shores of her hometown Hawaii was left with one arm and only 26 days later she courageously overcame all odds and began surfing again. In the wake of this life-changing event that took her arm and nearly her life, Bethany’s feisty determination and steadfast faith spurred her toward an adventurous comeback that gave her the grit to turn her loss into a gift for others. Bethany is a true champion who inspiring millions worldwide through the love of her family, her sheer determination, and her unwavering faith.

Bethany wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. Bethany’s story has touched the hearts of everyone and her inspirational message, charitable efforts, and overall spirit. In April 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer was released, based on the book and additional interviews. She has appeared on many television shows since the loss of her arm.

Known most notably for one of the biggest comeback stories of our era, Bethany Hamilton has since become synonymous with inspiration. New York Times Best Selling Author, life who’s been featured in a Hollywood movie, professional surfer, and spiritual icon, Bethany is a sought after public speaker. She is motivating audiences worldwide to live their life with more tenacity, courage and faith.

 

 

POPULAR PROGRAM TOPICS
(Bethany’s programs are frequently conducted in an interview style)

Fighting to Get Back on the Board
Bethany has already lived more than a lifetimes worth of triumph and tragedy, and she shares every poignant moment. Audiences learn how she rose once again to the challenges of competition after a life-changing event, how she dealt with the maelstrom of media attention, and how she relied on her faith and innate positive thinking to embrace changes that would undo most people. Bethany’s passion and insight, and filled with thrilling moments of the sport personify, a portrait of American heroism that will captivate audiences of all ages.

Rise Above
Bethany shares her courage and enthusiasm, inspiring audiences to face life head on and stand strong in their faith. Since losing her arm, Bethany has chosen to use her experience to become an inspiration and help others to overcome adversity, no matter how great. Bethany will inspire your audience to believe that you can do whatever they want if you just set your heart to it, and just never give up, and just go out there and do it.

Full Biography

Bethany Hamilton has become a source of inspiration to millions through her story of faith, determination, and hope. Born into a family of surfers on February 8, 1990, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany began surfing at a young age.

At the age of thirteen, on October 31, 2003, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm. After losing over 60% of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Bethany was on her way to recovery with an unbelievably positive attitude. Lifeguards and doctors believe her strong water sense and faith in God helped get her through the traumatic ordeal.

Miraculously, just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal to become a professional surfer. In January of 2004, Bethany made her return to surf competition; placing 5th in the Open Women’s division of that contest. With no intention of stopping, Bethany continued to enter and excel in competition. Just over a year after the attack she took 1st place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships – winning her first National Title.

In 2007, Bethany realized her dream and turned pro. Bethany has since participated in numerous ASP and World Tour Events with her major highlight being a second place finish in the ASP 2009 World Junior Championships.

Since losing her arm, Bethany’s story has been told in hundreds of media outlets and she has been recognized with numerous awards, public appearances, and various speaking engagements.

In October 2004, Bethany shared her life story in her autobiography entitled Soul Surfer. Seven years later, the book was made into a major motion picture bearing the same title which released theatrically in April, and for home entertainment in August, 2011. Other books Bethany has written include “Devotions for the Soul Surfer,” “Rise Above,” A “Soul Surfer” Bible, “Ask Bethany,” and “Clash,” “Burned,” “Storm,” and “Crunch.”

Out of the water, Bethany has grown from a young teenage girl with aspirations of becoming a professional surfer into a twenty-year old professional surfer with aspirations of becoming a beacon of inspiration and hope. Through the platform of professional sport, Bethany has been able to touch a large number of people with her message, charitable efforts, and overall spirit. Bethany just launched her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, which supports shark attack survivors, traumatic amputees, and serves to inspire others through her life story, and is involved in numerous other charitable efforts.

Michelle Rosado

Michelle Rosado has a message of inspiration and empowerment for your audience, as well as an engaging style that will make your entire organization strive to new heights by helping them to discover their own inner strength both personally and professionally. Internationally recognized as “The Woman of Empowerment“, Michelle has overcome some incredible life obstacles, including surviving a physically and mentally abusive relationship, as well as escaping the World Trade Center just seconds before her offices were destroyed.

With more than 15 years in financial services, and over 20 years of business experience, Michelle Rosado has been influenced by some of the most successful people in business. Her message delivers innovative and unique empowerment strategies to enthusiastic audiences around the country. Industries from self-help, real estate, multi-level marketing, higher education and many more have been moved by Michelle’s powerful message. Michelle knows how to accelerate personal achievement and life fulfillment, and has created a definitive method to help people to reach their goals in record time as she has done.

PROGRAM TOPICS

9/11
Michelle Rosado shares her message of hope and perseverance beyond the unthinkable trauma of her ordeal and escape from the World Trade Center disaster on September 11, 2001. On 9/11/01, Michelle Rosado was on the 95th floor of Tower 2 of the World Trade Center when there was a crashing sound causing the windows in her office to shatter. The decisions she made in the moments following 9/11 changed her life forever.

Michelle is co-author of “Pursuing Your Destiny,” a book based on the true story of her escape from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Empowerment Strategies
Learn the tools, tips and resources to empower and inspire you organization. Your audience will be inspired and motivated to achieve greater success, by establishing a greater appreciation for life. Michelle will provide the tools necessary to achieve goals, find inner strength and adapt to change. Learn the techniques that allowed her to retire from corporate America by age 30 to become a full-time business owner, and then a professional speaker, author, and mentor.

Full Biography

MICHELLE ROSADO

Michelle Cruz-Rosado was born in New York, New York, to Filipino and Honduran immigrant parents, grew up in Queens, New York, and returned to New York City in 2000. Michelle began her financial career early in her life during the “irrational exuberance” on Wall Street in the 90′s and into the 2000′s. Her first article, “Will I Recover” tells of her personal experience as a survivor of the attacks of 9/11/01, was released in October of that same year and became the thought which led to her co-authored book, “Pursuing Your Destiny.”

In 2006, Michelle received a Lifetime of Achievement award from New York’s Madison’s Who’s Who, and is recognized throughout the business world as the “Woman of Empowerment.” Rosado’s remarkable story of survival has been featured on networks such as CNN, NBC Nightly News, FOX and more.

“Pursuing Your Destiny,” is based on the true life story of her escape from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. As a successful business owner, professional speaker, and coach, Michelle has inspired people around the world with her message of hope and perseverance. She has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from New York’s Madison’s Who’s Who, and is recognized throughout the business world as the “Woman of Empowerment.”

As a public speaker, Michelle presents passionately on a wide range of topics. She has presented to women’s groups, multi-level marketing companies, juvenile detention facilities, and has hosted all-day motivational training seminars. Her story has been featured on NBC Nightly News, MSNBC and CNN along with a photo of the towers taken by Michelle on September 7, 2001.

The inspirational story of her personal victory, entitled “Will I Recover” was featured in an article on the fifth anniversary of that fateful day. As a follow-up to the recollections of her victory, her second article, “The Recovery” was published in Envision Magazine’s October 2006 edition. The first article was written in the weeks following the tragedy for personal healing purposes, however the popularity and overwhelming feedback from readers worldwide would become the inspiration behind writing “Pursuing Your Destiny.”

Michelle is the co-founder of Rosado Companies, an organization dedicated to providing an array of top-notch services in the areas of technology, finance, and overall personal growth.

Tim Daggett

With a perfect 10, Tim clinched the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team in modern history. Despite hardship and numerous life threatening injuries, Tim continued to follow his heart and compete in the sport he loved. His desire and perseverence allowed Tim to leave gymnastics on his own terms.as a world-class competitor.Tim is not an ordinary speaker. He adds to his lecture two heart-felt video presentations, plus the awe-inspiring gymnastics demonstration–all of which combine to entertain, captivate and encourage audiences to “go for their gold.”

Tim is a teacher, and he is a do-er. His presentations are filled with a unique mix of emotion, humor and entertainment, and as he shares his momentous success and his heroic struggle, he touches the hearts of all who hear him.

Full Biography

Tim Daggett is not an ordinary speaker. He adds to his lecture two heart-felt video presentations, plus the awe-inspiring gymnastics demonstration–all of which combine to entertain, captivate and encourage audiences to “go for their gold.”

Tim is a teacher, and he is a do-er. His presentations are filled with a unique mix of emotion, humor and entertainment, and as he shares his momentous success and his heroic struggle, he touches the hearts of all who hear him.

Tim has established a multi-million dollar training facility for gymnastics in Agawam, Massachusetts. Over 1300 children of all ages flood to the gym each week to enhance their lives and grow through the sport of gymnastics. Tim’s responsibility in the facility’s daily operations gives him real world experience when speaking to companies and associations. He’s not just a speaker addressing past glories; he is a motivated problem solver, constantly improving his businesses through intelligent action.

After years of successful presentations and numerous inquires about a book, Tim knew it was time to put pen to paper. Dare to Dream was born and it chronicles his life. Recently Tim also co-authored a chapter from the book Awaken the Olympian Within, along with other USA Olympic medalists.

Mallory Weggemann

2012 Paralympian Mallory Weggemann had her life changed on January 21, 2008. A routine epidural to help treat back pain left the college freshman paralyzed from the waist down. Having been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven, and still coping with her new disability, she found one thing unchanged – her love for swimming. On April 8, 2008, Mallory returned to the pool, and has been breaking national and world records ever since. Mallory is currently ranked first in six of the seven Paralympic events and has her eyes set on nine gold medals in London.

Swimming Career:

Current member of the US Paralympics National Team;
2009, 2010 and 2011 USA Swimming Disabled Swimmer of the Year (Trischa L. Zorn Award);
2009 and 2010 Swimming World Magazine Female Disabled Swimmer of the Year;
Five gold medals 2009 IPC Swimming World Championships 25m in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;
Eight gold medals and one silver medal 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands;
2011 ESPN ESPY winner – Best Female Athlete with a Disability;
USA Swimming Central Zone Athlete Representative;
USA Swimming Disability Committee;
USA Swimming Athlete Executive Committee;
Currently holds 34 American Records; and
Currently holds 15 World Records:

Personal Story:
Everything Happens for a Reason. (Includes moving anecdotes from personal journal).

You’re the Best, you can make a Difference, and you can Change the World.

Full Biography

On January 21, 2008, Mallory Weggemann received an epidural injection to help treat back pain; however by the time it was finished she was forever changed. Complications with the procedure left the college freshman paralyzed from the waist down.

Weggemann has been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven. After her injury at the age of 18, Weggemann chose to return to the pool. In April 2008, her older sister found an article in the local newspaper discussing the Paralympic Swimming Trials. The meet was being held at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Still coping with her new disability, Weggemann found one thing unchanged, her love for swimming.

While attending the meet as a spectator with her sister, she met several of the US National Team coaches as well as her current coach, Jim Anderson. The following Monday, Weggemann returned to the pool and has been swimming since. She touts her Paralympic trials experience as life changing. “I have always loved the sport but when this happened I thought my days of swimming were over and when I realized I could still do it, well I will never forget that moment.”

Weggemann broke her first set of world records at the Can Am Speedo Para Swim Meet held in Edmonton, Alberta Canada in July 2009. Weggemann set world records in the 50m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 100m butterfly.

At the 2009 Short Course IPC Swimming World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2009, Weggemann broke six more world records (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 20 point 4x50m freestyle relay) and took home five gold medals.

In August 2010 at the Long Course IPC Swimming World Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Weggemann proved herself again in the pool by taking home eight gold medals (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, 50m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 400m freestyle relay, 400m medley relay) and one silver (100m backstroke). Weggemann finished the meet with nine World Records. The IPC wrote the following regarding Weggemann’s performance. “USA’s Mallory Weggemann (S7) was the most successful athlete of these World Championships, winning eight gold medals and breaking nine world records“.

Weggemann was ranked number one in the world in six of the seven paralympic events.

Weggemann is currently on leave from the University of Minnesota – School of Journalism until after the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, UK

Naomi Judd

Grammy Award winning singer Naomi Judd makes up half of country music’s most famous mother/daughter duo, The Judds. Over the course of her stunning career, Naomi won 5 Grammy Awards and an array other music awards and honors. After receiving Hepatitis C diagnosis, Naomi retired from music, but continues to inspire others through humanitarian activities and awareness campaigns. Naomi’s meteoric rise to country music superstar and American icon – from her humble beginnings as a single mom in a small Kentucky town – is an inspiring story of overcoming the odds through optimism and hard work. Read more

Mellanie True Hills

Mellanie True Hills

Mellanie offers electrifying programs that energize attendees and provide them with tools and techniques for creating permanent changes. We look forward to providing you with a program that attendees will never forget and that will make a permanent change in their lives.

As you get ready for your event, what messages do you want attendees to take away with them? That our hurried and hyperbusy lifestyles can put us at risk, but that they have the power to make changes that will protect them? That they need to put themselves first so that they will be there for others? Read more

Svetlana Kim

Svetlana Kim is an International Speaker, Spokesperson for the 2011 Macy’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Bestselling Author, Entrepreneur, and Community Advocate.

She is the author of White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee, which chronicles her journey from Russia to the United States, where she arrived with only one dollar in her pocket and a few words of English at her disposal; today, she is a leader among her peers in the business world, and has been honored with numerous awards citing her commitment, skill, and integrity. Read more

Christopher Gardner

Christopher Gardner is the owner and CEO of Gardner Rich LLC with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Conquering grave challenges to become a successful entrepreneur, Gardner is an avid motivational and inspirational speaker, addressing the keys to overcoming obstacles and breaking cycles. Gardner is also a passionate philanthropist whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organizations. The amazing story of Gardner’s life was published as an autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, in May 2006, and became a New York Times and Washington Post #1 bestseller.

Gardner joined the Navy out of high school and after discharge moved to San Francisco where he worked as a medical research associate and for a scientific supply distributor. In 1981, as a new father to son Christopher Gardner Jr., he was determined to find a career that would be both lucrative and fulfilling. Fascinated by finance, but without connections, an MBA or even a college degree, Gardner applied for training programs at brokerages, willing to live on next to nothing while he learned a new trade. Chris Jr.‘s mother left and Gardner, despite his circumstances, fought to keep his son because, as he says, “I made up my mind as a young kid that when I had children they were going to know who their father is, and that he isn’t going anywhere.”

TOPICS

Start Where You Are
In these uncertain and challenging times, Americans are learning what they’re made of by tapping into their unknown potential. Christopher Gardner demonstrates that in the face of adversity, true transformation is possible. No matter what kind of challenges your audience has encountered, Gardner is sure to inspire. Sharing powerful stories of human resilience, Gardner instills audience members with hope for a brighter future. They will leave this presentation empowered and uplifted, ready to make positive changes in their own lives.

Breaking Cycles
Christopher Gardner is the head of his own successful brokerage firm – but just 25 years ago, he was homeless, carrying all his possessions on his back, and occasionally living in a bathroom at a train station. A true testament to perseverance, Gardner tells his story of overcoming obstacles, “breaking cycles,” and hard-won success. He recounts his fears of failure, the exhaustion of his pursuit, and his great appreciation for those who helped him. Gardner is a captivating motivational speaker whose storytelling grabs hold of his audience and his humor lights up the room.

Entrepreneurship and the American Dream
Christopher Gardner recounts the story of how a red Ferrari became the turning point of his career and life. In this heartwarming presentation, Gardner takes audiences from his days in the military to the day he decided he would pursue his career dream. As a father first, and businessman second, his story is one of overcoming obstacles, facing the daunting task of balancing life responsibilities, and ultimately succeeding.

Full Biography

Chris Gardner is the owner and CEO of Gardner Rich LLC with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Conquering grave challenges to become a successful entrepreneur, Gardner is an avid motivational and aspirational speaker, addressing the keys to overcoming obstacles and breaking cycles. Gardner is also a passionate philanthropist whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organizations.

The amazing story of Gardner’s life was published as an autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, in May 2006, and became a New York Times and Washington Post #1 bestseller. In paperback, the book spent over twenty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into more than thirty languages. Gardner was also the inspiration for the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” released by Columbia Pictures in December 2006. Will Smith starred as Gardner and received Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for his performance. Gardner was an associate producer on the film.

In his second New York Times bestselling book, Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, published in May 2009, Gardner shared his philosophies on, and the crucial steps behind, creating a fulfilling, successful life. The book provided a much-needed blueprint for navigating tumultuous times with positivity, courage, tenacity, discipline and common sense. The book was released in paperback in May 2010.

In the fall of 2010, Gardner was named the Ambassador of Pursuit and Happyness for AARP, which has nearly 40 million members worldwide. His mission is to share his hard-won wisdom to encourage the 50+ audience to pursue new challenges, search for fulfillment at any stage of life, or craft the legacy they want to leave behind.

Born February 9, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Christopher Paul Gardner’s childhood was marked by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse and family illiteracy. Gardner published his autobiography out of a desire to shed light on these universal issues and show they do not have to define you. Gardner never knew his father, and lived with his beloved mother, Bettye Jean Triplett (nee Gardner), when not in foster homes. Gardner is indebted to Bettye Jean for his success as she provided him with strong “spiritual genetics” and taught him that in spite of where he came from, he could chart another path and attain whatever goals he set for himself.

Gardner joined the Navy out of high school and after discharge moved to San Francisco where he worked as a medical research associate and for a scientific supply distributor. In 1981, as a new father to son Christopher Gardner Jr., he was determined to find a career that would be both lucrative and fulfilling. Fascinated by finance, but without connections, an MBA or even a college degree, Gardner applied for training programs at brokerages, willing to live on next to nothing while he learned a new trade. Chris Jr.‘s mother left and Gardner, despite his circumstances, fought to keep his son because, as he says, “I made up my mind as a young kid that when I had children they were going to know who their father is, and that he isn’t going anywhere.”

Gardner earned a spot in the Dean Witter Reynolds training program but became homeless when he could not make ends meet on his meager trainee salary. Today, Gardner is involved with homelessness initiatives assisting families to stay intact, and assisting homeless men and women who are employed but still cannot get by. It is estimated that 12% of the homeless population in the United States is employed; in some communities that estimate is as high as 30%.

Gardner worked at Bear Stearns & Co from 1983-1987 where he became a top earner. In 1987 he founded the brokerage firm Gardner Rich in Chicago from his home with just $10,000. Gardner Rich LLC is a FINRA registered broker-dealer specializing in servicing public pension funds and Taft-Hartley plans for some of the nation’s largest institutions and unions. In addition to expanding its core business as an institutional securities broker, Gardner Rich has increased its participation in corporate underwriting and has expanded its brokerage services to include trading in global markets through both ordinary and ADR form.

Dedicated to improving the well-being of children through positive paternal involvement, Gardner is a board member of the National Fatherhood Initiative, and received the group’s Father of the Year Award in 2002. He served on the board of the National Education Foundation and sponsors two annual awards: the National Education Association’s National Educational Support Personnel Award and the American Federation of Teachers’ Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel (PSRP) Award. He also serves on the board of the International Rescue Committee, which works to provide access to safety, sanctuary, and sustainable change for millions of people whose lives have been shattered by violence and oppression. Gardner is still very committed to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, where he and his son received assistance in the early 1980’s. He has helped fund a project that creates low-income housing and opportunities for employment in the notoriously poor Tenderloin area of the city.

Gardner has also been honored by the NAACP Image Awards with awards for both the book and movie versions of The Pursuit of Happyness; Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women’s (LACAAW) 2006 Humanitarian Award; The Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce’s 2006 Friends of Africa Award; The Glaucoma Foundation’s Kitty Carlisle Hart Lifetime Achievement Award; The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA); Covenant House, Common Ground and other organizations committed to combating violence against women, homelessness, and financial illiteracy – issues of the utmost importance to Gardner.

Chris Gardner’s aim, through his speaking engagements and media projects, is to help others achieve their full potential. His practical guidance and inspirational story have made him a frequent guest on CNN, CNBC and the Fox News Channel. He has been featured on “The CBS Evening News,” “20/20,” “Oprah,” “Today Show,” “The View,” “Entertainment Tonight,” as well as in People, USA Today, Associated Press, New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Jet, Reader’s Digest, Trader Monthly, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, amongst other publications.

Gardner has two children and resides in Chicago and New York.

Claudia Stevens

To be an artist is one thing. To be a successful artist is quite another. What separates the two? Often it is simply entrepreneurship-the drive and know-how to turn your artistry into an art career.

Claudia Stevens, pianist, singer, musicologist, and composer, whose work has been performed on national stages, lectures on the topic of entrepreneurship and reveals key strategies for artists to undertake. Her presentations address topics such as self-management, marketing, and crossover careers.

As a scholar and performer she encourages listeners to consider both thoughtfully and creatively the importance of developing entrepreneurial skills. Stevens’ interdisciplinary presentation will benefit students and community members interested in pursuing the arts or a business career. She has created some 15 solo plays for her own performance as a musician and monologue artist, many of which were published or presented by leading universities and arts centers. Among her honors as a creative artist are a dozen touring grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and numerous residencies at cultural institutions.

Recent projects include a solo play cycle about animal rights and the librettos for a short chamber opera, A Very Large Mole, and for a new chamber opera, Riddle Me, created in collaboration with Allen Shearer.

Stevens holds degrees in music from Vassar College and University of California, Berkeley, as well as a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano from Boston University, under Leonard Shure. She has held academic, conducting and performance positions at Brandeis University, Williams College, the College of William and Mary.

PROGRAM INFORMATION:

  • Lecture: “Breaking Some Eggs: Strategies in Career Advancement for the Entrepreneurial Artist”.
  • Lecture: “Revelation: an artist talks about her discovery of Jewish identity and Holocaust past.”

“An Evening with Madame F” was created by Claudia Stevens for her solo performance as a musician and actor, with additional original music by Fred Cohen. The work has been presented at the national and international levels for two decades. It is widely praised by critics, audiences, and the Holocaust survivor community as a uniquely authentic and profound artistic expression of the Holocaust. Drawing on first-hand accounts – those of her own family members and of several concentration camp musicians, Stevens depicts and mirrors the struggle of women who survived Auschwitz as entertainers. In an enthralling virtuoso performance, she incorporates music that was played and sung by concentration camp inmates. And, as the daughter of victims of the Holocaust, she also meditates on the complex ethical and artistic dilemma of expressing unspeakable horror through art. An Evening with Madame F was produced for television by PBS affiliates WCVE and WHTJ.

“An Evening with Madame F” has been programmed in New York, Toronto, Houston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Palm Beach, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, St. Paul, Louisville, Baltimore, Boston, and many other cities. Presenters have included Holocaust centers, Jewish Federations and Foundations, JCC cultural arts series and lectureships in Jewish Studies. Additionally, the piece is being presented by many leading educational institutions. Recently these include: Dartmouth, Stanford, Brandeis, UCLA, Lehigh, Southern Methodist, the Univ. of Calif. at Santa Barbara, Cornell, Swarthmore and many others. A major article about Claudia Stevens, her unique personal story and artistic contributions, appeared in a recent issue of Reform Judaism magazine.

Full Biography

Claudia Stevens creates and performs her unique and complex solo plays throughout the United States. A number of her solo plays and musical compositions for piano are published in leading music and poetry journals. She also has become a recognized thinker and sought-after speaker about the Holocaust, great women of science, and entrepreneurship in the arts.

Classically trained as a pianist, singer, conductor and composer, Claudia studied piano with the master teachers Leon Fleisher, Leonard Shure and Arie Vardi. She holds degrees in music from Vassar College (summa cum laude), the University of California at Berkeley and the DMA from Boston University. Her academic positions have included Williams College and the College of William and Mary as an Assoc. Professor of Piano, where she now is a Visiting Scholar. As a pianist she was the featured artist on a number of “Performance Today” on National Public Radio and PBS television broadcasts.

When Claudia Stevens developed a new career as an innovative performance artist and playwright, her creative work came to national attention. She is the recipient of grants from the International Theater Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, and twelve consecutive grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Baltimore Theater Project, and RS9 Studio Theater in Budapest. She also was in residence at the Gitameit Art Center in Rangoon, Burma at the invitation of the American diplomatic and arts community to address the suppression of artists in Burma. Most recently, Claudia has become a librettist, collaborating with San Francisco composer Allen Shearer in several works of chamber opera: “The Dawn Makers,” which premiered at Herbst Theater, San Francisco in 2009 to national and international acclaim, and a new opera, “Middlemarch, a Love Story,” currently in progress. Claudia lives in the Bay Area in California.
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