As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition November 2022
It is my pleasure to bring this article to you by Annette Franz. In October this year, she completed her term as Chairwoman of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. It was an exciting and challenging year for her and the entire business community. It seemed that the McAllen Chamber of Commerce was collapsing due to the abrupt resignation of the former president. Before Annette’s tenure ended, she was there to hire a new president for the Chamber, and the bylaws were amended to support transparent management and much more.
But what is next for Annette? Currently, she is a Board Member of Capable Kids Foundation, Hidalgo Chapter of Zonta International President, Pan American Roundtable Vice President, Disability Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board Member, Heal International Medical Missions Board Member, Stronger Together Disability Coalition Board Member, and Futuro RGV Board Member and Incoming Chair. As you can see, she has always been busy dedicating her time and knowledge to contributing to the community. Enjoy!
“The secret of change is to focus energy not on fighting the old but on building the new,” Socrates
As my term comes to a close, I’d like to share a few thoughts on what has been a challenging but satisfying year. The McAllen Chamber Board of Directors is composed of elected volunteers who commit their time to serve our business community. Our mission is to serve our members and visitors by enhancing economic growth and quality-of-life through leadership, marketing, and collaborative partnerships.
As board chairman, I became intent on leaving the Chamber better than I found it. My objective as chairman was to foster commitment in serving the organization’s best interest. Immediately upon my appointment, new board members and members of the executive committee joined me in taking an oath of office, a first in Chamber history. Every chairperson comes in with a different perspective on leadership. It is my belief that board members should be familiarized with the organization’s operations to fully comprehend each member’s ability to apply effective oversight. The same applies to the board of any organization as they carry the responsibility to set policy; this should never be minimized or discounted.
Last October, at my very first board meeting as chairman, the Chamber’s CEO resigned. The sudden resignation caught many by surprise and caused some to question the stability of the organization. The period was turbulent and volatile, and some, including board members, questioned the leadership in place. This group requested my resignation. Although it could have been easy to step down, I firmly believed that we are called to do what is right even if it is hard. Despite these challenges, a majority of the board came together to work on a new period of transformative change in the organization with the intent to better service our community.
Change is unsettling to some, but I stand proud having served alongside competent individuals, possessing a wealth of knowledge and business experience. Socrates once said, “the secret of change is to focus energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”
It has been my distinct honor to have been a part of this transition as we focused energy on building the new and moving our Chamber forward.
I want to personally thank the efforts of UTRGV Executive Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dr. Kelly Nassour for leading our search committee that ultimately found the organization’s next President and CEO. Months later, Mr. Josh Mejia was appointed as the new President and CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. With Mejia at the helm, great things are happening at our Chamber. He is strengthening our organizational structure, forging stronger relationships with our community stakeholders, and finalizing a new strategic plan to guide the organization into the future.
For budget analysis and input, I called on the talent and experience of Rio Grande Regional Hospital CEO, Mrs. Cris Rivera, to lead our budget committee. The McAllen Chamber operates on a budget in excess of $4 million dollars and in order to fulfill our fiduciary responsibility, the committee began working on providing the necessary recommendations to improve the organization’s accounting and auditing systems. Just recently, the board approved its fiscal year 2023 budget with unprecedented input and support. I am extremely proud of the work done by the committee to further advance our commitment to improve the organization.
We have a fiduciary duty to ensure that we are acting in the best interest of the Chamber at all times. I appointed a bylaws, policies and procedures review committee to review and update the Chamber bylaws and policies. The committee began the arduous work of reviewing and amending the organization’s by-laws to ensure we operate as required in the nonprofit and chamber industry. Soon, Chamber members will be sent a copy of the proposed amendments and will be afforded a period of time in which to comment. After this comment period finalizes, the board expects the applicable changes to be approved and filed. As members of the Chamber, I encourage you to read the by-laws and share your thoughts.
Another board member that deserves recognition and thanks is Elva Cerda, the Executive Director of the McAllen Heritage Center. Elva served on three committees simultaneously and provided valuable input. I want to express my gratitude for her leadership and input in helping improve the McAllen Chamber.
I want to personally thank all Chamber Ambassadors for their dedicated and tireless service. From welcoming new businesses to spreading goodwill throughout the community, the Ambassadors are the heartbeat of our Chamber.
A city official recently asked me, “Annette, what would you like your legacy as Chairperson to be?” I want to be remembered as a woman who did not compromise when it came to doing the right thing, a person who asked hard questions, and a person who insisted on integrity and transparency in all Chamber dealings. I will remember this year, not for the storms we weathered or the hurdles we overcame, but for the opportunity afforded all of us to do the right thing. I personally received support and trust from many in our community and for that I will be forever grateful. I also appreciate the staff who did an outstanding job of maintaining a high level of service. This short synopsis of successes is owed to all of you.
- $3 million awarded to the McAllen Chamber to support businesses affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Relaunch of MXLAN, a five-day summer art and music festival that celebrates young Latino culture, at the McAllen Conventions Center.
- Two Sister City agreements with Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco and Apodaca, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
- Brought forth several community events such as the Santa Fe Wine Classic and the All About Women luncheon with record turnouts.
It has been an honor to have been a part of the growth we experienced over the past year. As I look back, I am satisfied that the Chamber is better today than it was when I undertook the Oath of Office. The 2021-22 Board of Directors will forever be a part of the McAllen Chamber’s history because of the solid changes that took place. I will continue to serve my community.
God’s Blessings to All. Annette Franz 2021 – 2022 Chairman
Alma O. Johnson
“Annette is a leader that has engaged and supported the community by sharing her vast experience and vision; by making plans and executing them well, all with high levels of integrity, and with benefit for the community always in mind.” Alma O. Johnson, former Chairwoman of the McAllen Chamber Board. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Dr. Jose. A. (Jay) Gonzalez
“Annette Franz is a wonderful person. She is consistently involved in giving back to her community and making a positive difference in the lives of others”, Dr. Jose. A. (Jay) Gonzalez, Superintendent McAllen ISD. Courtesy Image
“A strong, healthy, and vibrant community does not just build itself; it is helped by community members who give back by donating time to organizations whose missions support the betterment of the community. Annette does this by participating in multiple organizations and donating to worthy causes,” Stephan Wingert, Chair McAllen Chamber Board and Publisher of The Monitor. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
“Annette is a person with high integrity and strong moral values. Her performance as chairwoman is a perfect example of an individual who serves and leads civic organizations for the right reasons. Her courage and compassion are admirable. She stated she wanted to leave the chamber better than she found it. She leaves behind big shoes to fill”, Laura Warren, The Warren Group. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Mayor Javier Villalobos
“You see Annette everywhere. Her energy in the McAllen Chamber and other organizations is contagious. Few in the area match her willingness and desire to help our community. I am honored to call her my friend,” Javier Villalobos, McAllen Mayor. Courtesy Image
“Annette’s strong commitment and dedication to continue to support and serve our community are truly admirable. I am always impressed at the energy and passion she puts into the organizations she serves; the best is for our beloved Rio Grande Valley,” Carlos Melguizo, owner of Carats and McAllen Chamber Board Member. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Elva M. Cerda
“As for my experience with Chair Franz, I believe she comported herself with dignity and strength when faced with adversity and harsh criticism. She led the chamber through difficult times towards a new path of success; a true accomplishment under the circumstances,”Elva M. Cerda, McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board member and Executive Director, McAllen Heritage Center Inc. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
“Annette Franz is a humble community leader in every aspect. She has the conviction and confidence to lead, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to serve others in times of need. She is always one phone call, text, or email away as an advisor to the Disability Chamber of Commerce RGV and the entire community. Truly we are blessed to have such a humble servant in our community, “Evelyn Cano, Disability Chamber of Commerce RGV Founder/President. Courtesy Image
Commissioner Eduardo ‘Eddie” Cantu
“Congratulations to past Chairwoman Annette Diaz Franz for her years of service to the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Her passion for the business community is remarkable, and her leadership during COVID proved essential. Her dedication and commitment throughout her tenure have created a foundation for growth for all the city’s current and new business leaders,” Commissioner Eduardo ‘Eddie” Cantu, Hidalgo County. Courtesy Image
“Annette has proven to be a valuable member of our Capable Kids Board of Directors. She has demonstrated an unwavering tenacity to accomplish big dreams. Annette has been essential in helping problem-solve through tough times with grace. She has the biggest heart and always manages to make decisions with truth and fairness at the forefront,” Melanie Watson, President Capable Kids. Courtesy Image
Dr. Juan Padilla
On behalf of Heal International Medical Mission (HIMM) “HIMM has been blessed to have Annette Franz as part of our organization as a volunteer and board member. HIMM is a surgical ministry going to regions around the world! Annette has been a faithful servant in this ministry. Her Christian Faith has been evident in her giving of her time to serve others! Dr. Juan Padilla, President of HIMM. Photo by Roberto H. Gonzalez
“Annette Franz is a shining example of goodwill, kindness, and altruism. She consistently dedicates her time and resources to so many causes and missions. I cannot think of a time when Annette said no to an effort that would either help someone in need or bring just a moment of joy and happiness. Our community has more needs than can ever be filled, but it does not stop Annette from always giving herself wholeheartedly to fill as much of the void as possible without getting discouraged. She is a strong woman who isn’t hindered by obstacles or difficult times; She focuses on solutions and what it takes to get there. She has proven to be a true and trusted leader, not by commanding from the front but by motivating and inspiring those around her with compassion and positivity. Annette Franz is a person I greatly admire and the type of person who reinforces my faith that we can make a difference, even more so together,” Seby Haddad, McAllen City Commissioner. Courtesy Image
Dalinda Gonzalez Alcantar
“Our pastor connected me with Annette almost 10 years ago, and since then, I have only known her to be steadfast in her faith and practicing it by serving others in our community. She is generous with her time and resources and loves her community!” Dalinda Gonzalez Alcantar, STC Board Trustee and Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club. Courtesy Image
Nedra S. Kinerk
Congratulations to Annette Franz on completing a year of service to our community as president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Annette is a capable leader who knows and understands our community. Annette’s passion for service has made her an asset to many groups. I am especially pleased that Futuro RGV will benefit from that passion as we have named Annette Franz as President-Elect of Futuro RGV. Thank you, Annette. Nedra S. Kinerk, President/Founder Futuro RGB. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
“Annette Diaz Franz is the epitome of compassion, empathy, and generosity. She is selfless and has dedicated years of her time to making our community better for everyone. I am always in awe of how much she cares and how fair and honest she is in all her dealings. We are lucky to have her in our midst,” Sofia Peña, Trustee, McAllen ISD Photo by Roberto H. Gonzalez
Judge Richard Cortez
“Annette Franz Is a person that cares deeply about her community and wants to serve. I’m deeply grateful for her and so many other like-minded individuals that make our communities great.” County Judge Richard Cortez Courtesy Image