Champions of the American Dream.

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

Ann Endsley

Ann Endsley

2024 Honoree

Bradon Hoover

Bradon Hoover

Emerging Student Honoree

About the Speakers

Ann Endsley

Owner at The Event Collection
Greens on Tenth, Underground Kitchen, Gather

Ann Endsley

Ann Blair Endsley has more than 30 years of experience in real estate and securities. Mrs. Endsley was the Director of Marketing for Sierra Capital Companies, which sponsored a series of real estate investment trusts in the 1980s. She then formed Integrated Syndication Systems, Inc., which provided consulting services to real estate companies looking to raise capital through syndication and public offerings. Her firm also developed software to automate investor relations data, investor communication and tax reporting. She raised capital for real estate, agricultural and medical office projects in the Central Valley, including the Cardiac Catheterization Center at Doctor’s Medical Center, the Modesto Imaging Center and the Modesto Cancer Center. Endsley plays an active role in managing the Endsley family’s investment real estate portfolio. In addition, she has founded several operating businesses centered around local food products.

In 2007, Endsley founded Four Seasons Farms, a certified organic farm in Modesto. In 2010, she founded Greens Market, which was initially a specialty food market featuring the Endsley’s and other local farmer’s organic produce and artisan products. The company has evolved to include a regional full-service catering company, an event venue with a full liquor license, meeting rooms and multiple commercial kitchens. She created Underground Kitchen, which provides Green’s extensive menu in a meal delivery format. In 2018, Endsley launched the Event Collection -- a full-service event rental company that serves the greater Central Valley area. That same year, she acquired Willow Floral Company, a well-known floral design firm that provides services for weddings and weekly corporate floral deliveries. Willow also has a flower truck with a robust schedule of stops and locations throughout the week and frequently participates in festivals, fairs and farmer’s markets. In 2019, Endsley opened a showroom for the Event Collection and combined it with a new venture called Gather, an event venue with a large demonstration kitchen for cooking classes, floral workshops and other classes and programs for adults and children. In 2019, Endsley also acquired two local rental companies, Ajooba, an Indian décor company, and Unique Boutiques, a local rental company specializing in antiques to enhance the offerings from the Event Collection.

All of the “sister companies” Endsley has created provide good-paying jobs and respectful working places for all employees. She has routinely hired people who have prior criminal records or have had life challenges; through mentorship and training, many have become long-term, key employees and managers. Most recently, Endsley has worked with Legacy Alliance to employ more than 30 men and women with prior felony convictions in several of her operating businesses. In addition to providing jobs, Dr. and Mrs. Endsley are donating a facility they own in Modesto that will be the headquarters of a project to provide comprehensive job placement, mental health and other vital services to men and women re-entering society after serving time in prison.

Endsley is on the Board of Directors of Opportunity Stanislaus and the Downtown Modesto Partnership. In 2011, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce awarded her the Cardoza Citizen of the Year, and in 2007, the Association of Fundraising Professionals awarded Dr. and Mrs. Endsley Philanthropists of the Year. Both Dr. and Mrs. Endsley are passionate about making a significant contribution to the Central Valley community and helping people live their best lives.


Bradon Hoover

Bradon Hoover

Stanislaus State Art Major

Bradon Hoover is a third-year art major at Stan State from San Diego. He is the vice president and treasurer of the Art Club at Stan State and chief marketing officer for the WE&I Group. He is using his experience from helping to launch his high school Maker Space, and at the Stan State Warrior Fab Lab, to start the Hoover Workshop Company by opening a Maker Space in the Turlock area. He is committed to using his broad range of experience to elevate his peers by creating jobs and promoting education in his field.


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 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 ('82)

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

2023 Joe Duran

Updated: May 06, 2024