Gilbert, Arizona (11/29/10) – Arizona businessman James May, founder of Wisdom Natural Brands®, maker of SweetLeaf® Stevia Sweetener, and the man known as “the Father of Stevia,” was inducted into the Hall of Fame of his alma mater, Phoenix College, last week. May was inducted at the 12th Annual Phoenix College Alumni History Makers Scholarship Dinner for accomplishments benefiting the local community and beyond.

“I am flattered and honored to be recognized by Phoenix College, which was such a significant part of my life and my achievements thereafter,” said James May, a 1956 graduate of Phoenix College. May went on to graduate from Brigham Young University in 1960 following a two-year mission. “I was the first member of my family, on either side, to attend college, and I learned many valuable lessons from my college experiences that have sustained me throughout the years… perseverance in the pursuit of good goals being the most meaningful,” added May, who championed stevia as a sweetener for more than 25 years. Stevia is now a high-velocity trend worldwide as sugar reduction becomes an international passion for food and beverage manufacturers, chefs, and the public in general.

May’s perseverance was clearly a factor in his many accomplishments over the years, for which he was honored by Phoenix College. After serving simultaneously as the first Executive Director of the Arizona Kidney Foundation and Director of the Artificial Organs and Transplant Program at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, May became the Founder and President of Wisdom Natural Brands®, maker of SweetLeaf® SteviaSweetener. SweetLeaf® is the only all-natural stevia sweetener with zero calories, zero carbohydrates, zero chemicals and zero glycemic response. May was the first to bring stevia to the U.S. market, and was recently presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by Stevia World International at the Stevia World Europe conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

In addition to his Phoenix College Hall of Fame recognition, May was also honored last week for his work on behalf of the indigent farmers of Latin America. He was invited to address the International Symposium on Stevia in Asunción, Paraguay this past week, where he was re-elected the Honorary President of the Stevia Association of the Americas, an organization of stevia growers, academics, processors and manufacturers throughout Central and South America.

As a Phoenix College Hall of Fame inductee, May joins a chosen group of only 100 Phoenix College alumni and employees who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 1999, including Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford, Arizona State Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch and former President of the Navajo Nation Peterson Zah. The inspiring list includes accomplished corporate and non-profit executives, community volunteers and college staff who have “gone above and beyond the call of duty to help our communities succeed,” according to Frank Luna, Director of Alumni and Development.

The proceeds from the Phoenix College Alumni History Makers Scholarship Dinner and Auction benefit the Phoenix College Alumni Association (PCAA) Scholarship Project. The scholarship project helps financially deserving students attend Phoenix College.

About SweetLeaf® Stevia Sweetener
It all started with one man who had a dream – James May, Founder of Wisdom Natural Brands®. Stevia is a naturally sweet herb native to Paraguay that has been consumed for centuries. After tasting stevia leaves given to him by a Peace Corps worker, May made it his mission to bring the extract from the deliciously sweet plant to the United States. May is world known as “The Father of Stevia.” The process involves taking the highest-quality leaves of the stevia plant and extracting their naturally sweet taste with only cool, purified water – no chemicals, solvents or additives that adulterate and cover up the great taste created by nature.

May first traveled to Paraguay to import stevia in 1982. His most satisfying victory came in 2008, when GRAS Associates and Life Science Research Office, two completely independent panels of scientists, awarded SweetLeaf® Stevia GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status, pursuant to FDA regulations. This allowed SweetLeaf® products made from its new, revolutionary extraction technology to be labeled as sweeteners. SweetLeaf® could finally use the word “sweet” to describe its product, now known as SweetLeaf® Sweetener®. The FDA granted a no-questions letter to SweetLeaf’s® GRAS status in 2009, validating all the hard work done by May over more than a quarter of a century.

Wisdom Natural Brands®, a leading U.S. manufacturer of stevia products, offers SweetLeaf® Sweetener in convenient double-serving packets. SweetLeaf® Stevia Sweetener is sold in boxes containing either 35 or 70 packets. Each packet replaces two teaspoons of sugar. SweetLeaf® is also sold in the SweetLeaf® Stevia Plus® Shaker Bottle for easy home use and SweetLeaf® SteviaTabs® Dissolvable Tablets for easy on-the-go use.

Today, May is a leading expert on stevia and travels throughout the world promoting the benefits of the stevia plant.

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