Testimonial Speech Essay
I am delighted to be a part of this gala evening, and especially pleased to have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and observations about this evening’s honoree — and my good friend, Cliff Kendall. Leader of the year — certainly the term fits Cliff like a glove. But look around the room. This place is filled with leaders. This is a “power lunch,” moved to the evening and dressed up in black ties and cocktail dresses. So how, do you suppose, did the Board of Trade choose one from the many deserving of honor for this singular recognition? Why Cliff above all others? I’d like to think that I can shed some light on that choice. There are dimensions to Cliff that set him clearly apart from most people; facets that, like those of a diamond, aren’t very visible until light strikes them. So let me cast some light on the many facets of Cliff Kendall. Cliff grew up not far from here, in northeast Washington, but the distance from that place to the Capital Hilton has to be measured in more than just miles. Cliff grew up a world apart from here, far from sumptuous, elegant dinners and accolades.
Cliff grew up in a rented duplex with his parents and sister — a family doing their best to eke out a full life with very limited resources. He was only 16 when his father left the family. Cliff had always been extremely close to his mother, but at this early point in his life, Cliff had to become more than just the older brother and devoted son. He also had to be a breadwinner, helping his mother keep the family together. The work was grueling. He cleaned offices in the morning, then attended class at Eastern High School in northeast Washington, then spent the end of day at a second job as a clerk typist. His mother prevailed on him to attend college, despite his reservations about the cost and the possible loss of his much-needed income, and so he enrolled at Wilson Teachers College, which is now a part of the University of the District of Columbia. It was at Wilson that Cliff met a lovely young woman named Camille Leaman, also a student at Wilson. The seating in classes at Wilson in those days was alphabetical, “Kendall” is close to “Leaman,” and so it seems fate and alphabet conspired to bring Cliff and Camille together.
He transferred to the University of Maryland, but couldn’t stand leaving Camille behind, so they married the year before he graduated from Maryland. Next month the Kendalls will celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary. After graduating from College Park, Cliff went into the Air Force and attended George Washington University at night where he received his master’s degree. His career took him first to American University as assistant comptroller, then to Washington University in St. Louis in a similar position.
Next he moved to Booz-Allen & Hamilton in Chicago, but by this time his family was growing. Cliff and Camille added four more “C”s to the family: Craig, Curt, Clark and Charlie. Throw in the family dog, Chipper, and you have seven “C”s — that’s how the family was known to friends and relatives for years. With four young sons, a heavy travel schedule and a commitment to being a full-time father to the boys, Cliff decided it was time to move toward a career that would allow him the kind of family life he had missed as a child — and didn’t want to deny to his own children.
In 1968 he founded Computer Data Systems, Inc., the company you now know as CDSI, to provide information technology solutions to government and business. It was at CDSI in Rockville that Cliff developed and honed one of the qualities for which he’s being honored tonight: an incredible business acumen. CDSI was a healthy baby at birth: beginning with only four employees in 1968, it quickly reached annual revenues of $2 million. But look at that baby now! Twenty-eight years later, CDSI employs 3,100 people. Its annual revenues have grown a hundred-fold to more than $220 million. This enterprise, that bears the indelible stamp of Cliff’s nurture and leadership, is regularly recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 200 best small companies in the nation. And just a couple weeks ago, the Washington Post listed CDSI as one of the 50 largest public companies in the greater Washington area, describing it as “the grand daddy of information technology services in the area.”
The baby, it seems, has grown up. Cliff continues to chart CDSI’s future today, in his role as chairman of the board, and he continues to regard the people of CDSI as part of his extended family. More important than what Cliff has done at CDSI, though, is how he’s done it. Few stereotypes are more pervasive today or — certainly in Cliff’s case — more unfair than that of the corporate business leader as crass, heartless, adept at taking but incapable of giving. Cliff, in the life he has led and in the model he has established as head of a hugely successful company, gives lie to that stereotype. His approach to corporate leadership is founded on his innate humanity, his basic decency, his involvement with others on a human level. Cliff is living testimony to the thesis that one can do good while doing well. As one of Cliff’s close associates puts it, “For a guy who’s done as much as he has in business, it’s refreshing to find that he always has time for others.
He’s a very special combination of businessman and ‘people man.’ He gives of himself to everybody.” Cliff has given of himself not only to the enterprise and the people of CDSI, but in full measure as well to business development in the Washington region. One of the brightest spots in this region’s economic growth in recent years has been the dramatic expansion of our technology base. Cliff has been at the very center of that success story. His leadership on technology issues for Board of Trade is well known to all of us. But there is so much more. He is considered by many to be the Godfather of the Suburban Maryland High Technology Council, serving as its chairman for three years, and continuing to serve on its board and executive committee. When the Montgomery County/Prince Georges County CEO Forum was created a few years ago, who did the business community turn to as the initial leader? Cliff Kendall, of course.
And who was Governor Glendening¹s first appointment to the board of the Maryland Economic Development Commission? Cliff Kendall, naturally. Just a year ago, to no one¹s surprise and everyone¹s agreement, Cliff was chosen to receive the Suburban Maryland High Technology Council’s Leadership in Technology award in recognition of his notable contributions to the growth and development of the technology business community in the region and throughout the State of Maryland. Those of us in higher education know Cliff as one of our best corporate sector friends. I’m immensely proud that he has chosen to support his alma mater through his wise counsel to us as a member of the University of Maryland¹s Board of Visitors. On the 25th anniversary of CDSI just a few years ago, the company honored him by creating a University of Maryland scholarship in his name, awarded annually to a computer science major.
This recognition says something about both Cliff’s priorities and the esteem in which he is held by his colleagues at CDSI. As much as we might like to, the University of Maryland can’t — and shouldn’t — claim him all to ourselves. Cliff also has a deep and continuing commitment to his other alma mater, George Washington University, and to Johns Hopkins University where he teaches in its graduate program. If Cliff has worked to improve this area’s business and education, he devotes just as much time and energy to making life in this region better for all its citizens. Near and dear to his heart is the Greater Washington Salvation Army. He was instrumental in relocating their alcoholic rehabilitation program to improved facilities in the Maryland suburbs, for example, and presently serves as vice president of their advisory board. He is also a director of The Lighthouse for the Blind, and helps to manage that group’s investments.
The list goes on and on, evidence of an extraordinary level of service to business, educational and public service organizations throughout the area. I’ve given you no more than a smattering of the ways in which he has shaped, supported and enriched institutions and individuals alike. But lists, as impressive as they might be, can’t begin to define this extraordinary man. To find some hint of the essence of Cliff Kendall, peek in on the center of his life — his home in Potomac, filled with those closest to him: Camille, his sons and daughters-in-law, and — at last count — five grandchildren. It’s a house that echoes with the busy, joyful chaos of a family. There is basketball in the back yard, friends dropping by, and yard work to be done. I know from Camille that he is less into that aspect of home life, but she says maybe that’s why God gives sons to people like Cliff. It’s a home the Kendalls gladly share with those whose lives they touch.
Parties abound, with people from CDSI, the Potomac Presbyterian Church, various organizations, and just friends filling the rooms with animated conversation. The record, I understand, was about 125 people from the Salvation Army in what Camille describes as “One of the best parties I’ve ever seen, and not a drop of liquor was served.” The only flaw I¹ve seen in the remarkable character of this man occurs when he steps on the tennis court. Gone is that warm smile, those friendly words of encouragement. In their place is a downright surly demeanor and a scowl that would strike fear in the heart of Mike Tyson. And talk about a competitor. We all know Cliff probably can¹t run a forty-yard dash in forty-seconds. But try a deft drop shot when he¹s at the base line and you¹ll see world class speed as this blur comes dashing across the court to return the ball.
Or try to lob over this man, saddled with knee braces and ace bandages, and you¹ll see Michael Jordan-like hang time and the ball blazing back at your feet. Besides competitor, however, there’s another “C” word that helps describe the essence of Cliff Kendall: commitment. Commitment to the company that has occupied much of his life. Commitment to the community he has shared and helped build over most of his life. And commitment to his family that from his earliest days has been — and always will be — at the very center of his life. In closing, let me recount one very personal story that perhaps captures what I feel is Cliff¹s most outstanding quality: compassion.
I mentioned earlier that Cliff’s father had left the family when Cliff was 16. For 42 years, father and son had not been in contact. Then, one day, a call came from his father’s new family in Colorado Springs. His father was dying of cancer. Without recrimination, without reservation, without hesitation, Cliff and Camille rushed off to be with him, brushing aside years of estrangement.
Many have said that — they — wouldn’t have gone. But they¹re not Cliff Kendall. Father and son had a warm reunion. Amends were made. Peace and forgiveness were found. Within three weeks, Cliff¹s father died, but not before years of separation and remorse were put to rest through a singular, selfless, loving gesture of compassion. That act captures for me the quintessence of Cliff Kendall. Yes, he¹s a phenomenally successfully businessman. Yes, he¹s a remarkable community leader. But above all else, Cliff Kendall is simply one wonderful human being.
There is an abundance of definitions of evidence-based practice (EBP). Fortunately, most of them say essentially the same thing. The most well-known definition is that put forth by David Sackett and colleagues: “Evidence-based medicine is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.” (Sackett D et al. Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM, 2nd edition. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 2000, p.1) In 2004, ASHA’s Executive Board convened a coordinating committee on evidence-based practice. This committee, charged with assessing the issue of evidence-based practice relative to planning needs and development opportunities for ASHA, used a variation of this definition: The goal of EBP is the integration of: (a) clinical expertise/expert opinion, (b) external scientific evidence, and (c) client/patient/caregiver values to provide high-quality services reflecting the interests, values, needs, and choices of the individuals we serve.
Conceptually, the trilateral principles forming the bases for EBP can be represented through a simple figure: Because EBP is client/patient/family centered, a clinician’s task is to interpret best current evidence from systematic research in relation to an individual client/patient, including that individual’s preferences, environment, culture, and values regarding health and well-being. Ultimately, the goal of EBP is providing optimal clinical service to that client/patient on an individual basis. Because EBP is a continuing process, it is a dynamic integration of ever-evolving clinical expertise and external evidence in day-to-day practice.
Mother Teresa had a favorite anecdote that she used to tell about suffereing. “I never forget one day when I met a lady who was dying of cancer and I could see the way she was struggling with that terrible pain. And I said to her, I said, you know this is but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close to Him on the cross that He can kiss you. And she joined her hands together and said, ‘Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me’.” Mother Teresa explained her story by saying, “This is the joy of suffering, the kiss of Jesus. Do not be afraid to share in that joy of suffering with Him because He will never give us more suffering than we are able to bear.” But she seemed to have struggled with being overwelmed at times. Mother Teresa also said, “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle, but I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!”
Thank you for that kind introduction and thank you for inviting me to speak today. I’m very pleased to be here to join you in celebrating this wonderful occasion. First of all, congratulations to all of you. You should be very, very proud of yourselves for accomplishing this goal. Well done. I know you must all be excited to get your hands on your diplomas and run out into the world. But as cartoonist Garry Trudeau said, “Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.” That’s where I come in as the key note speaker. I’ll try not to sedate you too badly. To the families of those graduating and earning certifications, congratulations to you and you should know that your support through this process made an enormous impact. I’m sure you’re very proud of your graduates as they close this portion of their lives and prepare for their next steps into a new career.
Graduation is one of those steps in life that defines a coming of age – the ending of one era of life, as a student or the one being shown the ropes, and moving on to a new stage in which you are a leader, a do-er and an achiever in the wider world. I’m sure many of you have firm plans and have a good idea of what’s coming next, some of you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do next, a dream and a lot of hope to get you there, and some of you are just amazed that you got to this graduation point at all! Well the coming times will be exciting, they will be trying but they will be all dependent on you and your determination. It’s been ## years since I graduated from college and things have changed just a bit since then. It was year you graduated: On TV, the popular shows were (fill in your own info), the top movies were (Fill in your info), the radio was playing (Fill in your own info and a stamp cost (Fill in your own info) cents.
In the news, (Add a few well known news items or add tidbits that identify the era, such as the Cold War, disco, poodle skirts, hippies, the Vietnam war, the First Gulf War, etc.) I had big plans for myself. I was a graduate of (Fill in your college name), and I was going to fill in your info here with the idea of being humorous – for instance: be single for life, never have kids, drive a corvette, be a millionaire in 5 years, travel the world in my yacht, get elected to Congress in a year or so, wear my hair long, live in a big house, play quarterback for the Broncos/or input local team). You see, I planned to take it easy, not work too hard and enjoy life. And here I find myself at a graduation once again but number of years later, my life didn’t turn out quite the way I planned. Input information here that mirrors what you said above.
For instance, I’ve been married for ## years, I have 4 kids, 2 cats and a dog, I drive a beat up car and I’m far from a millionaire. Instead of traveling the world I spend my vacations at (name a local amusement park or mall) with my kids and I don’t play football – I watch it on TV. And though life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, I don’t regret a bit of it – I haven’t failed – I’ve adapted found what makes me happy and fulfills me and so will you. Life doesn’t usually follow the plans you lay out for yourself. You will all experience the highs and lows of life, the difficult and the easy and unfortunately, there may sometimes be times of too many difficulties and just not enough smooth sailing. Your true success will be defined by how you handle both of these times. As you graduate and take on new challenges, chances are you won’t be making a million bucks at your first job. In fact you might not get the first or second or third job you interview for.
You may never become a CEO of a fortune 500 company in your life, but that’s OK. The important thing is you have already taken the initial steps needed to build a more promising future. Every class you’ve taken, every lab, every essay written and every certification you’ve earned, they have all been preparing you to adapt to change and challenges. Especially 8 am and Saturday classes – I know those were tough! But as you know, it’s a tough world out there- nothing will be handed to you – you have to earn it – and it will mean more to you because you will earn it. To give you an example of how perseverance can pay off, let’s me talk about (Here talk about a personal hero or a story of someone who inspired you with their work ethic. You have taken a key step towards your successful future and also the betterment of your family and your community.
You’ve worked hard, spending months learning new skill sets. Our complex and technical world today requires education and skills that were not needed in the past. Ultimately – your well educated generation will benefit us all in the future. Let me leave you with this thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” You’re now armed with one of the most important tools needed to forge your path ahead. It’s not the diploma itself that counts – it’s about what you’ve learned along the way and what you do with the education you’ve gotten in your journey to graduation today. Your future is in your hands – no one else’s. Seize this opportunity. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
You can run, until the end. You can run 400 meters in just a minute. It is both and honor and a privilege to be able to introduce you to a role model of note, a man of distinction – Usain bolt. Usain Bolt is a Jamaican sprinter and he was born on 21st of August 1986. Usain has distinguished himself as a world class sprinter and he holds the Olympic and World Records for the 100 meters in 9.69 seconds and the 200 meters in 19.30 seconds. Usain has taken his level of excellence one step further – and together with his teammates – he also won the 4X100 meters relay in the amazing time of 37.10 seconds. What makes Usain’s achievements all the more remarkable is the fact that they were all set at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Usain became the first man to win all three events at a single Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984 and the fist man in history to set world records in all three events at a single Olympics.
His name and his achievements in sprinting have earned him the media nickname “Lightning Bolt”. I am sure that you all know a great deal about his public sprinting life, but there is more to Usain than just running. Sidebar: great sample introductory speeches always show the speaker’s human side too. Usain enjoys dancing and he is often described as a laid-back and relaxed character.
The first sport to interest him was cricket and he said that if he was not a sprinter, he would be a fast bowler instead. He is a fan of Sachin Tendulkar, Chris Gayle and Matthew Hayden. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sure you will agree that the world of cricket has lost out – but the world of sprinting has gained a legendary role-model. Please join me in welcoming Usain Bolt to address you this morning with his words of wisdom.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 30 September 2016
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