Stedman Graham to speak as part of UniverCity

Graham will share his views on youth and leadership

Since she first mentioned his name on television in 1992, Stedman Graham has lived in the shadow of his media tycoon girlfriend, Oprah Winfrey.

Yet, as a public speaker and entrepreneur, Graham is more than just Winfrey's boyfriend. He is a former professional basketball player and now the chief executive of Chicago-based Stedman Graham & Associates.

The Ball State alumnus will share his motivational speech with the community today at 4 p.m. at the Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie.

As chief executive of his own company, Graham creates customized corporate leadership and development training programs for the youth.

His latest of five books, "You Can Make It Happen: A Nine-Step Plan For Success," is a New York Time's best-seller.

According to Graham's Web site, www.stedmangraham.com, his clients include the Department of Labor's Job Corps, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Manpower, GlaxoWellcome, Frankel and State Universities of New York.

Graham received a bachelor's degree in social work from Hardin-Simmons University and earned a master's degree in education from Ball State.

Lenette Freeman, executive of the Muncie Children's Museum, said although Graham's visit is intended for the youth, he has the ability to affect all audiences.

His speech, titled "Teens Can Make it Happen," will encourage listeners to know who they are, create a vision for themselves and figure out where they want to go.

Graham's motivational topics will also include learning how to step outside of the box, how to weather and react to change and how to commit to visions.

In January 2002, Graham became an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, where he taught a course on his newest book.

Graham also founded George Washington University's Forum for Sport and Event Management and Marketing, which was the first of its kind in the country.

He is also the founder of The Leadership Institute of Chicago, a nonprofit education and research organization. According to his Web site, the organization is dedicated to promoting effective leadership throughout society.

In addition, Graham is also founder and director of Athletes Against Drugs.

Freeman said Graham's visit has been years in planning, and his leadership will be a positive influence on the community.

Freeman said Graham's visit can also shed light on the positive aspects of Muncie.

"I think sometimes it takes someone from outside the community to help the citizens of Muncie appreciate what we have here," Freeman said. "I think that after reading his books, a lot of things that he recommends for teens, we're already doing here.

"Sometimes, when you hear someone speak and you think 'We're doing that,' it just validates the work that we're doing."

Freeman said Graham addresses the issue of being known as "Oprah's boyfriend" in his books. Initially, it was difficult for his self-esteem and establishing his own identity, she said.

"There's always going to be someone that's doing different things to you, or 'better' things than you or bigger things than you, but to be self-confident enough to know that the work you're doing is really important and meaningful," Freeman said. "I think he's come to terms with that, and is really able to be happy for Oprah and the impact that she's made."

Micah Maxwell, assistant director of community leadership for the museum, said students from the Indiana Academy were given copies of Graham's book so they could learn more about his views on how to become a better leader.

Freeman said the speech will make clear that the Muncie and Ball State communities produce great things.

"Know that your only limits are the ones you place on yourself," she said.


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