Friday, December 17, 2010

From Fresno to Trololo

On Thursday, I posted a video in my Empoprise-MU music blog. It was a performance of the "Trololo" song by the Gifford Children's Choir in Racine, Wisconsin, augmented by several other performers, including Principal Jeff Eben.

After posting the video, I decided to search for Jeff Eben to see what else he has done. Initially I was having problems with my search, because I was getting results for a Jeff Eben in Racine, Wisconsin and a Jeff Eben in Fresno, California. However, I eventually discovered that they were one and the same:

An internationally recognized motivational speaker based in California has agreed to become Gifford Elementary School's new principal....

[Jeff] Eben is something of a coup for Unified. An award-winning educator, author and speaker, Eben brings impressive credentials to the job....

Eben's website, which apparently hasn't been updated in some time, tells about his history prior to arriving in Racine:

eff Eben is an award-winning educator, leader, author and speaker. Paralyzed at the age of sixteen in a water-skiing accident, he built his life and career from a wheelchair. Jeff Eben’s twenty-five years in education include coaching football and basketball, teaching, and ten years as a principal, culminating in the creation of a National Blue Ribbon high school in the acclaimed Clovis Unified School District.

His story of hope and leadership philosophy of “Feel the Love” has moved audiences and inspired organizations all over the world, including Oxford University in England. In 1998, Jeff was named Fresno County’s Administrator of the Year, and in 2006 was inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in Education. In 2007, he was honored with Fresno State University’s noted Alumni Award for the Kremen School of Education.

Jeff was appointed Deputy Mayor of Fresno in 2007 and currently serves as the CEO of Fresno’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is the proud father of two grown children and resides in the Fresno area.

Well, now he's moved. But before he left, Eben defended Fresno against the onslaught of Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and USA Today. Excerpts:

By now, many Fresnans have seen or heard about the articles that ran in the USA Today and Fresno Bee last week. It should be clear to everyone that the Fresno City and County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is leading a movement to claim respect around the world that has been long overdue. We spent much of 2009 interviewing residents, community groups, and civic leaders and are excited about taking charge of our own public image. We’ve sat too long and allowed outsiders and Hollywood to spread garbage about us, and I am convinced that we all have had enough of the jokes, innuendos, and derogatory remarks. In June, we rolled out a new brand for Fresno that we want to use as our marketing campaign....

Our brand identifies six pillars (land stewardship, big city amenities, small town ease, cultural diversity, authentic America, and innovation) where respondents said we perform at a level we could consider world class. As a marketing agency, that gives us strong direction to go out and sell our virtues to the tourist world....

The CVB will continue to pound the likes of Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien until they let us come on and engage in a debate where we can tell folks about the good things we offer.

But I'm not sure how the people of Fresno felt when their staunchest defender left and went to Wisconsin. I'd bet that the dairy interests were particularly outraged, since Wisconsin is now claiming happy cows.

And Eben is clearly integrating himself into the community, based upon his participation in the Gifford concert.

Good for him.
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