2022 Champions of the American Dream Honoree Marian Kaanon Discusses Making an Impact in the Central Valley
May 09, 2022

Stanislaus State and the College of Business Administration hosted the 2022 “Champions of the American Dream” on Tuesday, May 3 with 225 people in attendance. The event honored the newest Champion, Marian Kaanon, president and CEO of Stanislaus Community Foundation.  

The annual event recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves by their professional success and have made exceptional contributions to communities in the Central Valley. The evening featured a fireside chat with Kaanon moderated by Evan Porges, president of Porges Properties and an inaugural Entrepreneur in Residence as a part of the Warrior Entrepreneurship Initiative. 

Kaanon is a first-generation Assyrian American. Originally from Iraq, her family was granted asylum in Canada and immigrated to the U.S. when she was in high school. Her relational Assyrian culture has shaped her worldview to see the deep interconnectedness of communities.  

“We as a country, our success or our demise depends on our ability to work with people that don’t agree with us and who don’t even like us.”  

Kaanon has taken that perspective into the workplace where working effectively as a team is tantamount to making a positive impact. Under Kaanon’s tenure, Stanislaus Community Foundation has tripled its assets under management. It has led initiatives and supported programs in education, economic opportunity and civic engagement. 

Kaanon spoke about struggle, perseverance, the importance of community and giving back. She encouraged the audience to think about their sphere of influence and the local impact they might make. 

“Silicon Valley and L.A. will look exactly the same twenty years from now. In the Central Valley, all bets are off. It’s up to us to create the future today and we get to play a role in it. The impact in this community is outsized.” 

Champions of the American Dream is part of the Stanislaus State Warrior Entrepreneurship Initiative, created in partnership with the Porges Family Foundation.