First, friends, thank you for joining us at this year’s EPC Gala. Your support means the world to me and the staff at the Chamber. We host the event both as a recognition of Chamber accomplishments and to express our gratitude for the efforts of so many in the business community that make the El Paso metropolitan region such an outstanding place to work and live in. Your support makes possible all the things we do for business and this community. We are grateful. The fact that we can have fun at the Gala, just makes it more delightful.
As you have read or perhaps heard in my presentations, I believe in shared values and purposeful leadership. While I absolutely believe that leaders can be cultivated and supported upward, I also recognize that building or continuing an entity requires strong, purposeful leadership and the integrity to maintain values consistent with an institution’s vision. Over the course of last year, the Chamber has been brilliantly led by Board Chair Arlene Carroll of WestStar Bank. The Chamber Board has seen fit to support some significant leaders from the business community; our Chair position has seen some legends of the community and over my time as President and CEO, I have been lucky enough to work with great people. Arlene has been a shining star for the Chamber and her chairwomanship, challenged by the pandemic and the topsy turvy world of on again, off again regulations, has kept us moving forward and onward to loftier goals. Arlene championed a mentoring program that capitalized on our connecting and coaching strengths; she recognized that in times of uncertainty, business leaders could come together and share experiences, insights, and offer support to new, rising leaders and offer reassurance to veteran leaders who faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic.
Arlene has been a leader at WestStar and will no doubt continue to positively influence the Chamber as she steps out of the Chair position. I also think it’s important to note how much of an influence Arlene has been on women in the business community and those associated with the Women’s Committee at the Chamber. Arlene has reminded me of the significance of mentoring for all. I have no doubt that she will continue to be a presence at the Women in Business conference and will foster leaders across WestStar, within the banking community, and across El Paso. Arlene – thank you for all you have done and will continue to do for business. Next month, I will share more about 2022’s incoming Chair, Max Villaronga from Teacher’s Federal Credit Union; it will be an exciting year to be sure.
As we move forward with the last month and a half of this year, there are some exciting benchmarks we have moved on, including competing for and securing federal funds for aerospace engineering and efforts toward building up El Paso’s additive manufacturing sector. We honored Dr. Ryan B. Wicker, Director of UTEP’s W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation for his work in this sector, at the Gala, and as you know Wicker and Dr. Ashan Choudhuri have been leading some of the most cutting-edge innovations in additive manufacturing and aerospace. We have long held significant historical presence in the aerospace sector, especially regarding space, and with Wicker and Choudhuri, the sky literally is the limit.
I hope your Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of rest and perhaps reestablishing family connections held off due to the pandemic. I hope you find time to express your gratitude to others and know that I am so grateful for you and your support of the EPC.