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*Christopher Gardner was born on this date in 1954. He is an African American stock broker, businessman and entrepreneur.
From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gardner never knew his father. He lived with his mother, Bettye Jean Gardner, and her family and in foster homes. He grew up with love and admiration for his mother, who was a schoolteacher.
His mother taught him some of the greatest lessons of his life and also taught him that in spite of where he came from, he could attain whatever goals he set for himself. After high school, Gardner enlisted in the Navy. After the military, Gardner went to San Francisco and took a job as a medical supply salesman.
Gardner set a clear career goal for the world of high finance. Without experience, connections, a degree, or pedigree, Gardner began applying for training programs at brokerages. When he was finally accepted into a program, he left his job in medical sales. But his plans collapsed when the man who offered him the training slot was fired, and Gardner had no job to go back to. Things got worse. He was put in jail for $1,200 in parking violations that he couldn't pay. His sons (Chris Jr.) mother left and Gardner fought to keep his son because, "I made up my mind as a young kid that when I had children, my children were going to know who their father was."
After entering a training program at Dean Witter Reynolds, Gardner’s job but couldn't make ends meet. He spent his evenings trying to arrange day care, find food and a safe place for him and his son to sleep. After spending nights in a locked bathroom at an Oakland subway station, Gardner persuaded Rev. Cecil Williams, founder of a new shelter program for the homeless at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, to let him and his son stay at the shelter. Gardner passed his licensing exam in 1981 on the first try.
He persevered, working the phones day after day to attract new clients. He and Chris Jr. got an apartment, and two years later he joined Bear, Stearns & Company. After becoming a top producer, first in San Francisco and later in New York, Gardner left in 1987 to establish Gardner Rich & Company, Inc., an institutional brokerage firm specializing in the execution of debt, equity and derivative products transactions. A self-made multi-millionaire, Gardner is intent on giving back to the communities where he conducts business because he has never forgotten his humble beginnings or the odds he has surmounted.
With a network of offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, GRC has grown by focusing on its commitment to provide quality service and excellent trade executions for clients. The firm executes trades for some of the nation’s largest institutions, public pension plans and unions. Under Gardner's directions, GRC has adopted a "give back to the community" program.
The Company donates 10% or more of the company's earnings toward school and educational projects in the communities it serves. Gardner's story of struggle, faith, entrepreneurial zeal, and fatherly devotion has catapulted him beyond the notoriety he has found on Wall Street. He has been featured on Television and film as well as being the subject of profiles in many newspapers and national magazines.