Testimonial Speech

Topics: Usain Bolt Pages: 9 (3771 words) Published: January 8, 2013
Testimonial Speech

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...
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