John Zhong Shen, born on January 23, 1970, in Beijing, China, is a notable figure as a parallel entrepreneur and philanthropist. With an academic foundation from Peking University and Duke University, where he earned an LLB and an MS, respectively, Shen began the journey that saw him travel beyond both geographical and professional boundaries. Known for his remarkable ability to establish and manage multiple enterprises at a time, Shen is the founder and CEO of American Lending Center, a pioneering non-bank small business lending institution.
His entrepreneurial ventures extend beyond finance, including businesses like Eritage vineyard resort and Sunstone Management. Beyond business, Shen’s contributions have been recognized through awards such as the “SBA 504 Lender of the Year,” “Albert Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award 2021,” and the prestigious “2023 Man of the Year” accolade from the Top 100 Registry. Moreover, his dedication to philanthropy shines through in initiatives like co-founding the “A Perfect Love” foundation, which supports families adopting Chinese children with disabilities.
John Shen’s journey goes back to a foundation rooted in his birthplace. He was born to Tianyou Shen, a Peking University professor, and Zhiwan Zheng, a high school teacher. Shen’s educational path led him to Peking University Law School, where he earned his LLB degree in 1992. Seeking bigger grounds, he moved to the United States to pursue his academic ambitions. At Duke University, he deepened his knowledge and perspective, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Statistics and Decision Sciences in 1996. This dual educational background not only equipped him with a strong academic foundation but also marked the beginning of his international career in entrepreneurship and innovation.
John Shen’s entrepreneurial journey consists of various experiences and transitions. After an initial walk-in into the US pharmaceutical industry as a statistician, he began his entrepreneurial path with a hinge toward the real estate sector. In 2002, Shen explored the real estate business in Florida, a move that eventually led him to transition into full-time business management in 2004. However, the journey came with its challenges. The real estate crash of 2007 presented huge hurdles, causing setbacks to his business endeavors. Undeterred, Shen’s resilience and determination led him to relocate to California, where he rebuilt his entrepreneurial ventures in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. This period of transformation and adaptation holds high importance in shaping his career towards parallel entrepreneurship and his achievements in other sectors.
The forefront of John Zhong Shen’s career stands a defining characteristic that has earned him resounding recognition. His achievements in this sector began with the founding of American Lending Center (ALC) in 2009. ALC’s pioneering approach lies in its unique business model, seamlessly merging the EB-5 program—a government initiative aimed at attracting foreign investment to the US—with the SBA 504 loan program, designed to support the growth of job-creating small businesses. Under Shen’s leadership, ALC underwent a significant evolution, transforming into a non-bank small business lending institution.
This journey won him numerous applauses, including the prestigious “SBA 504 Lender of the Year” award, reflecting Shen’s impact and innovation on the financial side. In the following years, Shen continued to channel his entrepreneurial spirit, establishing Eritage LLC (Eritage), a vineyard resort, and Sunstone Management (Sunstone), a private investment firm. These startups helped him achieve notable recognition, being included in the Inc. 5000 list and Financial Times’ “America’s Fastest Growing Companies” lists, highlighting his expertise in bringing growth and innovation across various industries.
Shen’s influence expands beyond the business landscape, touching upon a strong commitment to philanthropy. His meeting with President Joe Biden in 2022 marked a noteworthy engagement that further highlighted his contributions to society. Shen’s role as a bridge to the Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community was evident when he hosted Vice-President Kamala Harris, further demonstrating his dedication to promoting inclusion and representation. Beyond the public eye, his personal and business partnership with his wife, Stella Zhang, showcases their shared commitment to both their endeavors and each other. Shen’s impact further reaches into education, as shown by his volunteer work for Duke University, where he chaired the Alumni Admission Advisory Committee in China. Moreover, his establishment of a donation fund portrays his dedication to supporting international admissions.
John Zhong Shen’s entire career path is a tale of commitment, innovation, and compassionate leadership. From his beginnings in Beijing, China, to his academic pursuits at Peking University and Duke University, Shen’s early life laid the foundation for a path marked by versatility and determination. His transition from an early career in statistics to exploring the depths of real estate signified a turning point that led to his remarkable pursuit of parallel entrepreneurship. Founding American Lending Center (ALC) showcased his ability to merge divergent programs into a successful venture, a feat further recognized through awards like the “SBA 504 Lender of the Year.”
Shen’s establishment of Eritage LLC, Sunstone Management, Sunstone Trust Company, and Partake Collective reinforced his dynamic impact on various sectors. Beyond business, his involvements in the Long Beach Accelerator, the Economic Development Commission of Long Beach, and the Innovation Council of Irvine. John Zhong Shen’s personality is marked by a harmonious blend of entrepreneurship and philanthropy, reflecting the versatile nature of a life dedicated to positive change.