May 15th, 2015, Washington, D.C. – The majestic main building of the Organization of American States at 17th and Constitution in Washington, DC was again the venue for the Good Neighbor Awards Gala, the traditional event that caps the annual Conference and Board of Directors meeting. The event began with a reception in the building’s beautiful tropical patio, where guests mingled and toasted while a mariachi positioned to the side of the pink marble fountain provided background music. After about an hour’s time, the guests were invited to move up through the building’s Hall of Flags and Heroes and into the Hall of the Americas, where the formal dinner and ceremonies were to take place. The building is an architectural wonder, decorated with its original tiffany chandeliers and ornate stained glass windows. A formal Aztec garden can be reached from the broad terrace at the rear and, Xochiilli, the Aztec God of Flowers, guards a blue-tiled pool.
The building was designed and constructed to serve as the headquarters of what today is the world’s oldest regional organization, the Organization of American States (OAS), an association of nations formed by 35 countries from the Americas and the Caribbean. As Elihu Root, U.S. Secretary of State at the time, observed when he laid the OAS Building’s cornerstone in 1908: “Temples of religion, or patriotism, of learning, of art, of justice, abound; but this structure will stand alone, the first of its kind – a temple dedicated to international friendship…May all the Americas come to feel that for them this place is home, for it is theirs, the product of a common effort and the instrument of a common purpose.” The building was completed in 1910.
As has become the tradition at this, the Chamber’s signature event of the year, the national anthems were inspiringly sung by Susan Wheeler, the Stars’ Spangled Banner, and the Chamber’s own Juan Miguel Lopez, the “Himno Nacional de México.” The patriotic admiration of the attendees sensed that these great and moving voices augured for a great evening, and they were not disappointed.
This year’s Public-Private Leadership Awards included Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico Secretary of Tourism, Gerardo Gutierrez Candiani, President, Consejo Coordinador Empresairal, DLA Piper Gallastegui y Lozano, and Richard Fisher, Governor and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. (Mr. Fisher’s award is to be presented August 24, 2015 during the 2nd North American Sustainable Economic Development Summit, Las Colinas-Irving, TX.)
The Governor Leadership Award included José Calzada Rovirosa, Governor of the State of Queretaro, Mexico, and Gary Herbert, Governor of the State of Utah (Mr. Herbert’s award is to be presented October 29, 2015, during the USMCOC Binational Conference in Mexico).
Governor Jose Calzada-Rovirosa thanked the Chamber and Board for his award in perfect English, commenting briefly on the accomplishments of the State of Queretaro relative to growth, economic development and trade, all with consequent benefits for not only the State’s residents, but the entire country of Mexico.
Special Recognition Awards were presented to Gustavo Hernández García, Director General of Exploration and Production, Petróleos Mexicanos, PEMEX, and Raúl & Julio Fernández, Founders of Oaxaca Aerospace & Cinetransformer.