November 15, 2022

American Free Enterprise Day Medalist Steve Forbes Praises Spirit of Innovation

PBA News

The pioneering spirit of America’s early entrepreneurs built the nation into what it is today, and it is entrepreneurs who will continue to drive progress, said Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media.

Palm Beach Atlantic honored Steve Forbes, as well as Hive Collective CEO and Creative Director Sara McCann and WenCo Restaurant Group Chairman Eddie Rodriguez, at the university’s American Free Enterprise Day celebration Thursday. In addition, nine scholarships were presented, with more than 100 students receiving them.

Palm Beach Atlantic has celebrated American Free Enterprise Day since 1984. A medal ceremony honors individuals whose hard work and achievement exemplify the best of the American free enterprise system. The crowd of business leaders, former medalists, faculty and staff and students nearly filled the Rubin Arena. The Oratorio Chorus and Orchestra performed patriotic special music.

Fabiola Brumley, 2014 American Free Enterprise Day companion medalist, presents Eddie Rodriguez with his American Free Enterpise Day companion medal. Rodriguez is the WenCo Restaurant Group chairman.Forbes, the third-generation leader of his family’s enterprises, began his remarks praising McCann and Rodriguez for their entrepreneurship. He was the American Free Enterprise Day Medalist; McCann and Rodriguez were companion medalists.

Forbes said it was a great honor to receive the American Free Enterprise Day medal, especially from a university that understands how capitalism flourishes with true values.

“You have to have the right environment,” Forbes said. “You don’t have the right environment, people don’t believe in the future. … People have to feel that what they’re doing ultimately has nobility and purpose.”

Despite its critics, “capitalism is a moral system,” Forbes said. “When you hear some of these criticisms about how bad some of the people are in the free enterprise system: welcome to humanity. We know what fallen means. We have to cope. People are imperfect. The glory of the system is it takes human nature and directs it in a positive direction.”

Forbes elaborated on advances in car manufacturing, the invention of freight shipping containers, the advent of Black hair products, the development of the cellphone, the opening of banks that serve immigrant populations, the creation of the whooping cough vaccine and the development of commercial fracking technology to extract natural gas from shale.

Forbes didn’t shy away from talking about obstacles and failures amid those successes. Steve Jobs, for example, got fired from Apple – the company he cofounded – and his personality profile would never pass any human resources check. But Jobs later learned to be an effective leader and put together creative teams, Forbes said.

“It’s not enough to see an opportunity,” Forbes said. “It’s the grit to make it happen.”

Currently, progress is painfully slow due to inflation and excessive government spending, Forbes said. But unlike in dictatorships, people – voters – can make corrections, he said.

Further, “What’s going to rescue us are the people we honored here today,” Forbes said. “Entrepreneurs are doing things when we get the right environment.”

People mistakenly think that “you have commerce on one hand and philanthropy on the other,” Forbes said. Though it seems counterintuitive, “they’re really two sides of the same coin. Commerce encourages philanthropy.”

Despite the coming winter of a tough economy, “doing the right things,” Forbes concluded, will “turn it into a glorious spring.”

The following students were awarded scholarships.

Bill Bennett Scholarship:

  • Christiane Anton
  • Becca Beattie
  • Davis Blair
  • Katherine Budnovich
  • Ariane Campbell
  • Sam Cardillo
  • Richard Daronco
  • Madelyn Fahnestock
  • Lindsay Findlay
  • Maddie Galvelis
  • Kristof Gal
  • Dree Jennings
  • Abby Knox
  • Julie Law
  • Sam Lenes
  • Lorissa Lopez
  • Thuy Nguyen
  • Shelby Oliphant
  • Alessia Passerini
  • Anna Pool
  • Michal Precikowski
  • Glory Reback
  • Tiffany Schramm
  • Emilia Tola
  • Connor Wallace
  • Melina Willson
  • Adriana Willmutz
  • Gabriella Winters
  • Alyssa Zandberg

Blue Ocean Scholarship:

  • Benjamin Dobulis

Bremer Accounting Scholarship:

  • Lucas Holbek
  • Tiffany Schramm

James & Annie Erneston Scholarship:

  • Jacqui Daspit
  • Travis Fernamberg

Florida Self Storage Scholarship:

  • Stephanie Diaz

Col. Marty Trauger Scholarship:

  • Abby Knox

Suzy Peterson Scholarship:

  • Claudia Granado

Templeton & Co. Scholarship:

  • Rodolfo Hasegawa
  • Julie Law
  • Diego Rodriguez

Vecellio Family Scholarship:

  • Jay Alilin
  • Sam Cardillo
  • Micah Droescher
  • Caleb Kidwell
  • Sam Lenes
  • Daniel Pearson
  • Destiny Young

Photo 1: Steve Forbes speaks about the pioneering spirit of America’s early entrepreneurs during his American Free Enterprise Day speech. Forbes was the medalist.

Photo 2: Fabiola Brumley, 2014 American Free Enterprise Day companion medalist, presents Eddie Rodriguez with his American Free Enterpise Day companion medal. Rodriguez is the WenCo Restaurant Group chairman.

Photo 3: Kathy Leonard, a 2021 American Free Enterprise Day companion medalist, presents Sara McCann with her companion medal. McCann is Hive Collective’s CEO and creative director.

Ceremony Sponsor: Bank of America

Luncheon Sponsor: Young America’s Foundation

The mission of Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is to ensure that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, free enterprise, traditional values, and a strong national defense. YAF accomplishes its mission by providing essential conferences, seminars, educational materials, internships, and speakers to young people across the country. The organization also preserves the Reagan Ranch (Santa Barbara, CA)—President Ronald Reagan’s “Western White House”—and the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home (Dixon, IL) to pass on our 40th President’s values to future generations.


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