John Agather’s 90th Annual San Antonio Hispanic Chamber Gala Address
Muy buenas noches y bienvenidos on this, our celebration commemorating the ninetieth anniversary of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. For me it is the ultimate honor to stand before you on behalf of an organization that exemplifies a culture of excellence and whose body of work throughout its existence has represented the very best of human intention and accomplishment.
I want to begin my brief remarks by thanking those people who have made this moment a possibility in my life. First of all I want to express my eternal gratitude to my wife Ruth for supporting my participation with this remarkable organization. She is the smartest, most capable person I have ever met. I value her opinion above all others, not only because I am in love with her, but also because she is one of the rare people on this Earth who always has the right answer.
I also want to recognize the rest of my family attending tonight, starting with our children, Jack and Merrilee Agather, my brother Neils Agather, my brothers and sisters-in-law Mike and Lisa Kelleher and David and Kathy Kelleher, my niece Clara Kelleher, and my nephew Kevin Stacy.
And I need to express my great appreciation to my predecessor in this office, our First Lady, Erika Prosper Nirenberg. She has been a wonderful mentor to me. I have learned much from her wisdom and open, joyful heart. I have never met two people who care more about the future, not only of our Chamber, but also of our City than Erika and Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Muchisimas gracias.
And may I say that the leadership ideals that every inhabitant of my new post should try to emulate are that of our former chair and CEO Rebecca Cedillo. Her sense of purpose and fairness are models well served for me and all of our future leaders. Thank you, Becky.
I have already enjoyed working with my successor, Dr. Erika Gonzalez Reyes, and look forward to helping her as much as she has helped me. And to our amazing Chamber staff; I am in awe of what you accomplish. This is the hardest working group of people I know.
I also want to express my gratitude to Reverend Patrick Gahan for our beautiful invocation.
And I cannot forget our Gala co-hosts, Mary and Alex Briseno; Malu and Carlos Alvarez; and Elise and Craig Boyan. I have been fortunate to be friends and work alongside Mary and Alex Briseño for thirty years. Both are quintessential examples of servant leadership in all that they’ve done and accomplished for our City.
Carlos Alvarez and I arrived in San Antonio at practically the same time. We were two unknown businessmen from Mexico with little more than big dreams and a coffee pot. Thank you Carlos and Malu.
And lastly I want to thank our dear, dear friends Elise and Craig Boyan. We came to know each other through our children and have established an eternal bond that I cherish.
I also want to extend my appreciation to representatives of the many other chambers of commerce assembled here tonight, and especially to my new best friend Paula Gold Williams, the current chair of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
We assemble this evening in fellowship to celebrate an organization born out of the despair of discrimination. One that has championed the ever-endangered causes of equality, fairness, justice, diversity, and freedom, the doctrines that form the bedrock upon which our great country was created. Tonight we embrace the founding creed of our Republic: that all men and women are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Throughout a national history replete with examples of sacrifice that define our never-ending quest to embrace the better angels of our nature, even as I speak, the struggle continues to build a more perfect union. The American experiment is in its infancy. We need only to look back to our common heritage to understand that our best days still lay ahead of us, but it is only right and proper that we honor the past so we can define our future. We must not forget the prices paid in the past so that we know how to forge ahead even as Latinos achieve success and change.
For those of us who descend from the intricate tapestry that makes up Latino culture, my hope is that this evening brings a moment of joy and pride as we uphold the values of faith, family, and free enterprise that we so embrace. During the course of our long history, Latinos have always believed in the power of community and the ability to improve our own lives as well as those of others through the ideals of hard work and unity. Whether we are the children of strife and suffering or the inheritors of labored stability, we have all championed the continuing fight for economic independence. Therefore it is our duty as a part of this community to add our humble efforts so that we can continue the ascending line of achievement.
The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce believes that our mission is to help, not only in representing our member’s interests in commerce and the marketplace, but also in the future of the entire Hispanic community. Many of us are deeply aware that the grinding cycles of poverty are shackles that all too often break the soul as well as the bank account. Our investment in education is the primary tool we believe will help provide a future for all and deliver a wider variety of opportunities. And we applaud the efforts of others who choose to embark on the same path as our Chamber.
Our membership does not believe in handouts. Instead we reach for the handshake of possibility. We welcome an invitation toward mutual prosperity. Meet us on the field of the future and we will be a loyal partner.
May I finish by saying that I believe we are all God’s children. I believe that faith has reasons for which reason knows nothing. The faith of our forbearers has brought us to this evening’s joyous occasion. Let us therefore keep that faith. God bless each and every one of you, and may God bless America. Thank you.