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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Paletta Paletta

Nov. 3, 2009

Philanthropist, winner of 'Oprah's Big Give' presents Nov. 16 lecture

Inspirational speaker and philanthropist Stephen Paletta will present the year's second Distinguished Lecture at Northwest.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, in the Mary Linn Auditorium of the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.

Paletta began his philanthropic journey years before being chosen as "the biggest giver" on the reality show "Oprah's Big Give." After being challenged to choose between a life of "significance or success," Paletta journeyed to Rwanda in 2004 for a trip that changed his life.

"For the first time, I was really hands-on and connected to the plight of the poor and the Third World," Paletta said. "The images and the people I got to know would not allow me to just go back to work and worry about making my own money."

As a result, Paletta and his family decided to financially adopt 10 children in Africa, and he began his first not-for-profit organization, the International Education Exchange , which builds schools and libraries and trains teachers throughout Africa.

His second not-for-profit, Stephen's Journey Foundation , was formed after being awarded $1 million for winning "Oprah's Big Give." Dedicated to shining a light on social entrepreneurs around the world, it provides an easy way for donors to find effective grassroots not-for-profit organizations.

Paletta graduated from Cornell University, where he was an All-American lacrosse player and a civil engineering major. After college, he worked in his family's general contracting business before starting his own company in the same industry. He is currently CEO of Renaissance Integrated Solutions , a technology-based company in the pipeline industry.

As a lecturer, Paletta encourages organizations to use their successes to help others. Believing it is possible to be both successful and have a life of significance, he shows audiences how to choose paths that are rewarding for both their personal achievements and their positive effect on others.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468