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John F. Kennedy University Honors World-Class Entrepreneurial Leaders

April 20, 2012

Pleasant Hill, CA – 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 will be 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 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.

Recent graduates of the IEL certificate program will speak at the April 20th event, sharing their success stories about starting their businesses and the job creation impact they are having. Among those speaking will be Steven Douglas, President and CEO of DataPhysics Research a San Ramon based company; Mary Tuchscherer, the Executive Director of Voice Flames, a non-profit empowering women connections between the US and poor nations; and John Sanchez, CEO of Clean Industries, Inc., a Concord-based green career training company.

Luncheon tickets are $45 per person or $12 for JFK University students. VIP sponsorship tables are available for $500, $1,000, and $2,000. Proceeds will be used to support scholarships for under-resourced IEL students. For luncheon tickets and sponsorship opportunities, contact Dina Finta at or (925) 671-3043.


About John F. Kennedy University
Founded in 1964, John F. Kennedy University was among the first institutions of higher education in California committed to lifelong learning for adults. Today, the University’s three Colleges and Continuing Education division provide innovative higher education opportunities to more than 2,000 professionals who, despite a full range of life responsibilities, are determined to advance their education and improve their future. The Continuing Education division provides professional development education to more than 2,500 individuals per year. A pioneer of education that integrates theory and practice, John F. Kennedy University and its students touch the lives of more than 30,000 people in Bay Area communities every year through their support of outreach centers and public programs. JFK University is an affiliate of the National University System. For more information, visit

About the National University System
The National University System was established to meet the emerging challenges and demands of education in the 21st century. The System is uniquely aligned to connect a diverse population of students to a network of innovative educational programs that are relevant to their lives, careers, and the marketplace and are delivered in a format that respects competing life priorities. Dr. Jerry C. Lee has served as the System’s Chancellor since it was founded in 2001. In addition to John F. Kennedy University, the affiliates of the National University System are National University; National University International; the Division of Pre-College Programs, consisting of National University Virtual High School and National University Academy; Spectrum Pacific Learning Company LLC; and WestMed College. Entities related to the System include the National University System Institute for Policy Research, the Center for Integrative Health, and the National University Golf Academy. For more information, visit: