PRESS RELEASE: "Pursuit of Happyness" author to be Keynote Speaker at 2010 Dare to Dream Gala on April 28

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MEETPURSUIT OF HAPPYNESSENTREPRENEUR CHRIS GARDNER APRIL 28 WHEN HE IS KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT 13th ANNUAL GALA HOSTED BY THE NETWORK FOR TEACHING ENTREPRENEURSHIP (NFTE)

The self-made millionaire, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist who, during the early 1980s, struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son to share words of wisdom at April 28 NFTE Gala

Washington, DC, April 2010 — If you had the privilege of seeing the 2006 blockbuster film, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to meet the man behind the movie Chris Gardner, who will be the keynote speaker at the April 28 Dare to Dream DC Gala (http://www.daretodreamdc.com) for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

“Chris Gardner is indeed an inspiration to every entrepreneur,” says Julie Kantor, executive director of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship-Greater Washington. “His story speaks volumes about the human spirit. It’s incredible to think what one determined person could do to change his or her life — and that of others.”

This year’s gala chairwoman, Cynthia de Lorenzi, CEO of the networking group Success in the City, says Gardner will be one of the highlights of what is expected to be an incredible evening.

“I have wanted to meet Chris Gardner since I saw the film based on his book,” she says. “There are some people in the world who inspire you because they achieve great things despite the odds. And others whose lives are filled with such bravery and courage that you are left speechless. Chris Gardner represents the latter and I cannot wait to hear him speak at the April 28 gala.”

About Chris Gardner

Back in the 1980s, Gardner had yet to make millions as a stockbroker and business leader. He was just beginning his climb as the determined father of a young son who did everything possible to create a better life for himself — living for a year on the streets of the Tenderloin District in San Francisco while he struggled through a brokerage training program that paid a mere $1000 a month at Dean Witter Reynolds.

“I was homeless, but I wasn’t hopeless,” he says. “I knew a better day was coming.”

Perseverance was his mantra, and Gardner arrived at the office early and stayed late each day, persistently making calls to prospective clients with his goal being 200 calls each day. In 1982, he passed his licensing exam on the first try and became a full employee of the firm.

Gardner was later recruited by Bear Stearns & Company in San Francisco. In 1987, with start-up capital of $10,000, he moved to Chicago and established the brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co.

He says he chose the name “Gardner Rich” for the company because he considers Marc Rich, the commodities trader pardoned by former president Bill Clinton in 2001, “one of the most successful futures traders in the world.”

After Gardner sold his small stake in Gardner Rich in a multi-million dollar deal in 2006, he became CEO and founder of Christopher Gardner International Holdings, with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. He published his book in May of that same year, and the movie debuted on December 15. Gardner was one of the film’s associate producers. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, it grossed $163 million domestically and $300 million worldwide.

Meet Chris Gardner on April 28

Gardner will give the keynote address on April 28 at NFTE’s 13th Dare to Dream DC Gala, being held from 6-10 p.m. at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in DC (www.daretodreamdc.org). This year’s event, which marks NFTE’s 15th anniversary, will also honor Alper Family Foundation’s Vice President Patty Alper, and the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

About the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship-Greater Washington

Since 1987, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (dc.nfte.com) has provided entrepreneurial education programs to more than 280,000 youths in 21 states and 12 countries. Its mission is to work with young people from low-income communities to show them that entrepreneurship is a pathway to prosperity.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship-Greater Washington is currently working with 800 students in 17 schools, and since 1994 has served more than 21,000 students in the region.

For more information about the program and the annual business plan competition, contact Julie Kantor, executive director of NFTE’s DC program, at Julie.Kantor@nfte.com.

To buy tickets for the Dare to Dream Gala, visit www.daretodreamdc.com.

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