It was rise and shine for Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep‘s launch of CEO Breakfast and the presentation of the “Ignite Award” on Thursday, February 22, at The Petroleum Club. Despite the early hour, it was an outstanding turnout of area business leaders to see Hilda Galvan receive the award plus Cristo Rey Dallas honor student Emmanuel Moreno get a surprise. Here’s a report from the field:
Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep honored Jones Day Partner-in-Charge and Dallas Regional Chamber Board Chair Hilda Galvan with its inaugural “Ignite Award” at the first annual CEO Breakfast, on Thursday, February 22, at The Petroleum Club in Downtown Dallas.
As the over 100 attendees including Regina Montoya, Don Glendenning, Michael Meadows, Mike Gruber, Lisa Sherrod and Dan Waldmann arrived, they were each gifted a Cristo Rey Dallas tie for the gentlemen, or an orange pashmina scarf for the women. As guests took their seats, many donning their new accessories, President of Cristo Rey Dallas Kelby Woodard welcomed all to the breakfast.
Woodard first thanked Event Co-Chairs Jackson Walker Managing Partner David Moran and EY Managing Partner Michelle Vopni for their leadership. He also recognized dignitaries in attendance like Dallas County Treasurer the Honorable Pauline Medrano and 265th District Court Judge the Honorable Jennifer Bennett, as well as the business leaders in the room, many of whom are part of the school’s Corporate Work Study Program, an innovative model of education that gives students a college prep education while earning work experience in a professional setting.
“This morning is about the heroic work many of you do every day in your companies, firms and offices as a Corporate Work Study partner. You and your employees provide invaluable mentorship, training and professional experience to our students,” said Woodard.
He added, “You are partners in their education, in their opportunities and in their future; and when the first graduating class crosses that stage in June 2019 you will be there with them. On their behalf, thank you.”
Ms. Vopni followed and shared her own company’s experience as a Work Study partner.
“I believe the model that Cristo Rey has created, it’s not just changing the students’ lives but also the lives of the students’ families. I personally believe and feel passionate about that education is the only way that we can move the needle on the poverty epidemic in Dallas,” she said. “I think if we can educate the kids in these families living in poverty, they don’t just lift themselves up, they lift their entire family up. The work that Cristo Rey does is very impactful and I am very proud to be a part of it.”
2019 Cristo Rey Dallas class member Jasmine Chavez followed with a special invocation. Asking all to bow their heads, she read a powerful reflection written by classmate Daniel Venegas, who passed away during his freshman year. His writing, entitled “Protect the Dream,” included his hopes and dreams for his own education and for his family. In it he wrote, “I want to be someone meaningful in life, someone whose impact will be recognized. I want to change the minds of people who might doubt me and prove that I can protect my dream each and every day.” (Venegas’ full inspiration is attached)
Following breakfast, AT&T Senior Executive VP/CFO John Stephens introduced Hilda acknowledging her support of the three-year old college preparatory school and her commitment to providing opportunity and inspiration for its students.
“Cristo Rey Dallas believes they provide the opportunity for students to change their own paths. Hilda Galvan is a wonderful choice for this inaugural award. She understands very personally what it means to be the first person in her family to go to college, the first person in her family to go to graduate school and get her law degree. Her own experiences have inspired her to develop a deep empathy for those who are also striving to improve their lives,” Stephens remarked.
After sharing Galvan’s many accomplishments, he introduced a video, which included personal and professional accolades from Dallas Regional Chamber President/CEO Dale Petrosky and Dallas Business Journal Publisher Tracy Merzi. A video highlight included a conversation between Galvan and Cristo Rey Dallas student Edward Rojas, where Galvan revealed personal stories about her first job between 7th and 8th grade working at a jewelry-making factory. And from that experience she recalled that working there with many women who had families “emphasized the importance of getting her education. “
She also shared that she came from a family where her mother dropped out of school in the 6th grade and her father dropped out of high school as a sophomore, so she was the first one in her family to go to college and to think about engineering as an option, especially as a woman.
She said, “There is nothing like an education. It helped me go from a very humble beginning to a place in life where I can give back to my community and to those who need help as well. It’s an incredible thing.”
After Rojas asked, “I’m 16 and want to ask, ‘What advice would you give yourself at 16?’”
Galvan answered, “The importance of developing relationships with people outside of your family, professionally in your work and when you are in college. These are people who will help you in your career and you will help them.”
Galvan then came to the stage to accept her award of a gold Cristo Rey Crown and Globe pendant studded with sapphire presented by Stephens. She thanked Cristo Rey Dallas leadership and its board of directors for the recognition. She also recognized the Corporate Work Study Program partners and others in the room, who support Cristo Rey Dallas.
She said, “The commitment that each of you has made you to Cristo Rey Dallas and to the students will change their lives forever and will change the lives of their families for generations to come. You have given them a gift of an education, but you have also given them pride and self-confidence in earning that education. I look at the Cristo Rey Dallas students who work at Jones Day and I see myself and my husband Mike when we were their age. Our experiences were so limited and our role models were so few and your commitment has given these students new and wonderful experiences and wonderful role models, and I thank you on their behalf.”
She closed by encouraging others to say, “Yes” to becoming or continuing to be a job partner with Cristo Rey, “an incredible organization doing incredible things.”
Woodard then returned to the podium to honor student Emmanuel Moreno with a surprise “Grit Award,” awarded to a Cristo Rey Dallas student who exemplifies perseverance in the workplace, classroom and beyond.
Woodard said, “Grit is a word that we frequently use at our school, it describes the commitment our students have to taking on a challenging college prep curriculum while working to help pay for their education. Today we are honoring Emmanuel Moreno, who exemplifies grit through his school work, job performance at Lincoln Property Company, his student leadership, faith life and his contributions on the soccer field.”
He revealed accolades from Moreno’s employer and teachers before closing with a story about Emmanuel’s family. He shared that during the admissions interview for Cristo Rey Dallas, Emmanuel’s mother said that she had great dreams for her own education, but had to set them aside to care for her own family. But that she never gave up on her dreams but transferred them to Emmanuel instead.
As Emmanuel came to the stage, Woodard also announced that in addition to the “Grit Award,” a silver coin designed with the Crown and Globe, Cristo Rey Dallas partnered with employer Lincoln Property Company to underwrite a $5,000 scholarship for him.
In closing, Co-Chair Moran came to podium and asked for another round of applause for honorees Hilda Galvan and Emmanuel Moreno, before sharing his firm’s experience as a Work Study partner.
He said, “Jackson Walker has been a job partner since the beginning and Cristo Rey Dallas is one of the best things our law firm has ever done. We’ve gotten more than we have given. Clients see us differently, our employees see us differently and the Millennials see us differently.”
To the other company leadership in the room, he thanked those who are also current partners and encouraged those who are not to consider supporting Cristo Rey Dallas as a Corporate Work Study Program partner.
“You know it’s transformational to your own companies and to your own lives. But if you haven’t gotten involved yet as a job partner, please consider it, you will not be disappointed, it is a wonderful undertaking,” he remarked. “It is changing the lives of Emmanuel and so many kids in Dallas and Pleasant Grove, and it is worthy of our support.”
Sponsors for the CEO Breakfast included AT&T, DeGolyer and MacNaughton, Deloitte, EY, William Hornberger/Jackson Walker, Jackson Walker, JLL, Jones Day, Locke Lorde LLP, PwC, Riveron Consulting, Sarah and Loy Shaw, John Stephens, Tenet and Mary and Mike Terry.
* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron Smith