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JFK University Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership Attracts Top Businesses for Annual Awards

April 15, 2015

Concord, CA - John F. Kennedy University's Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership (IEL) will honor the accomplishments of some very successful entrepreneurs – a globally accomplished East Bay family, the extraordinary founder of the IEL and three of IEL’s many accomplished graduates at its Fourth Annual Entrepreneurship Awards Luncheon wto be held to be held on Friday, May 8 at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California.

“Passionate entrepreneurs move us forward. They imagine things most of us cannot. They persevere when everyone else has lost hope. They drive humanity forward. We are so excited to publicly acknowledge five super entrepreneurs,” said Les Schmidt, Executive Director of IEL.

The IEL Global Entrepreneurship Award will be presented to The Kenneth E. Behring Family. During his lifetime Ken Behring has created numerous successful enterprises. While he is locally known as the initial developer of the Blackhawk community and shopping center, he and his family also are behind some powerful non-profit endeavors. Collectively they have delivered one million wheelchairs to families in need around the world, created the new Spirit of the West museum in Danville, and empowered great teachers with the skills and knowledge to lead great schools.

Dr. Raul A. Deju, an accomplished business person and author, will be honored with the Chuck Smith Award for Lifetime Entrepreneurial Leadership. Dr. Deju was the founder of the IEL and had the foresight and vision to create an entrepreneurial accelerator in Concord. Today the IEL is a thriving hub with Resident Entrepreneurs, certificate courses and customized entrepreneurial learning opportunities for CEOs of existing companies. He helped fund the Institute in its early days and successfully attracted significant contributors and partners like Chevron, AT&T, Wells Fargo, The Heritage Bank, Keiretsu Forum, and others.

Three graduates of IEL programs will be awarded the Emerging Entrepreneur Award. Each of these CEOs is leading an extraordinary company . They represent the diversity of IEL’s students – women, minorities and veterans, and the reach of the IEL to companies across the nation as these graduates run national companies headquartered in New Jersey, Georgia, and California.

The three recipients of the Emerging Entrepreneur Award are:
Betty Manetta, CEO & Founder, Argent Associates, Inc.
Will Martinez, CEO & Founder, Nanotech Biomachines, Inc.
Phyllis Newhouse, CEO & Founder, Xtreme Solutions, Inc.

The event will also include presentations by the three finalists from the IEL's series of E2 Pitch Contests. In this business pitch contest, the audience will vote to select the 2015 Best Business Pitch winner. These three winners will receive money to use in launching their business ideas and mentoring support from the IEL program.

This event raises funds for IEL scholarships for promising entrepreneurs launch or shape their businesses.Event tickets are $80 general per person. For an additional $25, individuals can make it possible for a deserving student to attend the event. Tickets can be purchased online at

Event sponsorship information is available by contacting Les Schmidt at