Honoring the entrepreneurial and community spirit of innovative leaders from the Central Valley.

Joe Duran

2023 Champions of the American Dream Honoree

Thursday, April 20
5:30 p.m.
Main Dining

Register Today


5:30 p.m. – Light Refreshments
6:00 p.m. – Welcome
6:20 p.m. – Fireside Chat
Joe Duran, 2023 Honoree
Moderated by Marian Kaanon, 2022 Honoree
7:30 p.m. – Mix & Mingle

About the Speakers

Joe Duran
Chief Executive Officer
Stanislaus Equity Partners

Joe Duran is Stanislaus Equity Partners’ chief executive officer. Joe has over 40 years of experience at the leadership level in community development and improving the financial lives of thousands of local community members.

Joe served for 25 years as CEO of Community Trust Credit Union and an additional 10 years as executive vice president of Self-Help Federal Credit Union. Under Joe’s leadership Community Trust CU entered a partnership with newly formed Self-Help FCU that has grown to 37 branches, $1.6 Billion in assets and serves more than 91,000 primarily low to moderate income members. It is a nationally recognized Community Development Financial institution.

Joe is the co-founder of the Latino Business Association, emeritus board director of the Stanislaus Community Foundation, board member of the Stanislaus Youth Empowerment Program, California Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA), Community Transitional Resources, Redeemer Modesto Church as well as the chief financial officer for City Ministry Network. Joe has served board terms on the boards of Access + Capital (a Fresno community development institution), Opportunity Stanislaus and Community Hospice Foundation.  

Joe has received many awards and acknowledgements for his service to Latino and other underserved communities, including: the “La Raza” award and “Amigo of the Year” awards from El Concilio for the Spanish speaking, “Hispanic of the Year Award” by the Stanislaus County Hispanic American Society, “Dora Maxwell Award for Social Responsibility,” “Credit Union Diversity” and “Cultural Diversity” awards from the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

Joe has a passion for developing plans for sustainable business practices and building capacity for the community, particularly non-profits, who can best serve the needs of those of moderate means. He takes great pride in developing and coaching young emerging leaders. Joe graduated from Oakdale High School in 1974, is an alumnus of Stanislaus State and is a current resident of Ripon, California. He has been married for 44 years to his wife Linda, has three daughters, Melissa, Stephanie and Nicole (2 are Stanislaus State graduates) and 7 amazing grandchildren.

Marian Kaanon 
President & Chief Executive Officer 
Stanislaus Community Foundation 

Marian Kaanon is the President & CEO of Stanislaus Community Foundation. A first-generation Assyrian American, Marian was born in Iraq. She immigrated with her family to Canada at age 7, and then the U.S. as a high school student. 

After graduating from UC Davis, Marian began a career that spanned broadcast journalism, public affairs and nonprofit management, Marian joined Stanislaus Community Foundation as their CEO in late 2012. Stanislaus Community Foundation is a place-based funder that provides grants and scholarships to community organizations in Stanislaus County, located in the Central Valley of California. To date, the organization has invested over $25 million in local nonprofits and over $4 million in scholarships to students. 

During Marian’s tenure, Stanislaus Community Foundation has tripled its assets under management. Stanislaus Community Foundation leads initiatives and supports programs in education, economic opportunity and civic engagement. Stanislaus Community Foundation co-founded and leads the Cradle to Career Partnership, a multi-sector movement aimed at boosting outcomes for more than 110,000 children and young adults in the region. 

In 2015 Marian was named an Outstanding Woman for Stanislaus County. In 2017 Marian was named the Distinguished Alumna of the Year for Modesto Junior College, the youngest person to be so honored. In 2018, Marian was the recipient of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service award. Marian serves as an advisor to the Charles Mott Foundation Chair at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana State University. She was honored as the recipient of the Champions of the American Dream Award in 2022.

Pablo Paredes Romero, Ph.D., SPHR

Dr. Pablo Paredes Romero is a Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at California State University, Stanislaus and Visiting Professor of Organizational Behavior and Marketing at Menlo College in Atherton, CA. He is a Latinx small business owner who grew up in Puerto Rico, and a People Operations, Human Resources, Organizational Behavior/Development consultant, and professional coach. He specializes in serving small Latinx businesses in the Central Valley, Bay Area, and South Florida. Dr. Paredes Romero is a professionally trained, ICF-certified, and experienced coach specializing in partnering with entrepreneurs, small business owners, human resources professionals, graduate students, and other high-achieving individuals and groups in high-profile leadership positions. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Stanislaus Latino Chamber of Commerce. In his over 25-year career, he has served organizations practicing directorial level and strategic HR, on both the East and West Coasts, in industries as diverse as Intermodal Transportation & Freight, Retail Distribution, Recruitment & Staffing, Ornamental Horticulture, Supermarkets, and Direct Marketing. He holds a BSc in Communications (Public Relations) from Florida International University, an MSc in Human Resources Management from Nova Southeastern University, and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Education from Barry University.  

Terence Pitre, Dean
College of Business Administration
Stanislaus State 

Dr. Terence Pitre, an established leader in accounting and finance, became the new dean of the College of Business Administration in August 2022. 

Dr. Pitre joined Stanislaus State from Bowling Green State University where he served as department chair of Accounting and Information Systems. Additionally, he was appointed as the Richard W. and Patricia A. Maurer Family Distinguished Endowed Professor. Dr. Pitre holds a doctorate in accounting from Michigan State University in addition to degrees from Tulane University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.   

Dr. Pitre — who brings expertise in college and departmental Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation — believes an accessible, affordable, professional business education empowers people of all ages and backgrounds to transform their lives and realize their personal and professional potential.

Network, Learn & Be Inspired

Whether you’re a business major preparing for your post-college career or a community member interested in starting your own business here are the top reasons to attend this year’s event:

  • A chance to meet and ask questions of some of the Central Valley’s most influential and successful business leaders.
  • Opportunities to build and expand your professional and personal networks.
  • Hear compelling stories and anecdotes of how business leaders overcame challenges and difficulties.
  • Meet like-minded individuals who are passionate, driven and know how to turn their dreams into reality.
  • The event is free, and all are welcome to participate.

Persons with disabilities who need accommodations or have questions about access may contact Monica Doll at mdoll@csustan.edu or (209) 667-3836.

In Partnership with the Porges Family Foundation, please join California State University, Stanislaus and the College of Business Administration for Champions of the American Dream.

The Champions of the American Dream event recognizes individuals in the Central Valley who have distinguished themselves by their professional success and have made exceptional contributions to communities in the Central Valley.

In addition to honoring participants’ entrepreneurial and community spirit, the Champions of the American Dream event offers Stanislaus State students and community members an opportunity to interact with regional business leaders who serve as dynamic role models while giving back.

The Champions of the American Dream award has recognized individuals in the Central Valley who not only have distinguished themselves as entrepreneurs but also have made exceptional contributions to the community. They have served as role models for future generations of business leaders, as was intended by Norm Porges when he partnered with the Stanislaus State College of Business Administration to establish the distinctive awards program in 1997.

In addition to honoring the entrepreneurial and community spirit of innovative leaders, the Champions of the American Dream event provides an opportunity for honorees to interact with Stan State students. By sharing their insight and expertise, along with stories of tenacity and hard work, these business leaders nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of our students. They also exemplify Norm’s belief that business people should be involved in giving back to the community. Champions of the American Dream Honorees are honored at an annual recognition event and invited to give remarks on the California State University, Stanislaus campus in Turlock, CA.

Past Honorees

1998 Robert Piccinini
1999 Dan Costa
1999 Donald Mayol
2000 Chester Smith
2000 Ernie Gemperle
2001 Carol Whiteside
2001 Robert Cardoza
2002 David Halvorson
2002 Bill Ahlem
2003 James Beard

2003 Carl Boyett
2004 Jane Evans Vilas & John Evans
2004 Ralph Juarez
2005 Patty Amador
2006 Mike Zagaris
2007 Tony Mistlin
2018 Norm Porges
2019 José Rodriguez
2019 Jeffrey Grover
2022 Marian Kaanon

Updated: April 20, 2023