Chief Victor Rodriguez and
Being selected as Man or Woman of the Year for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce is no easy task. First, the Chamber President/CEO Steve Ahlenius forms the Man & Woman of the Year committee. An article in The Monitor runs requesting nominations from the community several times and the requests for nominations are publicized on the Chamber website. Once they are received, the committee reviews the applicants and painstakingly makes the difficult decision. This year, as usual, two extraordinary individuals have been selected to receive these prestigious awards.
Man of the Year
McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez was arriving home when he received the call from Steve Ahlenius telling him of his award.
“It was very humbling,” Rodriguez said. “I sat in the garage for about 15 minutes considering what it meant.”
As he thought about it, he added, “I believe it is a statement from the community that it appreciates its safety, and its law enforcement. I think of it as an acknowledgment of our police department and all the work we do for the community. I happen to be the Chief, but it’s the department I think this recognition is for.”
Now in his twenty-first year as Chief, Rodriguez previously worked in Brownsville for 16 years as Chief, then worked for Governor George W. Bush in Austin before taking the position in McAllen. He also takes an active role with the local Crime Stoppers, which has become a strong advocate for the department.
“It is the financially healthiest Crime Stopper program in this part of the state,” he stated. We espouse a policy today of “Have money for tomorrow.”
A major addition to the department is its extensive camera network, which has repeatedly proved its value in data collection.
“A recent case was of an attack on a resident where the cameras proved where the men were from and that they had come early in the morning to the residence, fleeing afterward. Without those cameras, we would not have known where they were from,” said Rodriguez. He began ticking off the additions the department has made to the City.
“We built this building and then added to it at no cost due to drug-forfeited assets. We built a training center in the northwest, a garage for the station, and the southwest station, all at no cost to the City,” Rodriguez said. “All that has been possible only because we have a supportive community and good, sound political leadership that provides for the needs of the community.”
Beyond routine police matters is the caring nature of the department.
“We sponsor community service events all year, but Christmas is for Kids is one of our bigger events,” he said. “We hand out food and toys to over 4,000 kids every year.”
To learn more about the department’s projects, community members are invited to join Citizens Academy, a program he first started in Brownsville, which teaches residents about the different functions of the department.
“This award is the community saying, ‘Thank you!’” he said. “People are simply saying, ‘We’re proud of the men and women of the McAllen Police Department.’ That’s what it means to me.”
Woman of the Year
When Sally Fraustro-Guerra, publisher/president of SOCIALIFE Magazine and broker for Coldwell Banker La Mansion Real Estate received the call telling her she was the Woman of the Year, she was surprised.
“I thought they just needed me to do something as Chairman of the Board,” she laughed. “It meant a lot that Steve was so excited for me. I am very honored and flattered that community leaders nominated me to receive this prestigious award. It’s heartwarming to know my hard work and all the years invested into the community I love have been recognized.”
Whether it is informing and promoting the community through the SOCIALIFE News Magazine or selling someone a new home, Fraustro-Guerra is up for the task. Her partnership with the City of McAllen began over thirty years ago when she started working for the McAllen Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). When she realized real estate was her passion, she became a realtor, relishing in helping others find homes and settling into new neighborhoods. One of her clients even nicknamed her “The Connector” due to her ability to help newcomers connect all the dots of their new lives and help them feel at home here in the Valley.
Fraustro-Guerra did not stop there. Fueled by her love of McAllen and the Valley and ready to give back more, she bought SOCIALIFE Magazine and initiated a weekly online version when COVID changed the way we all do business. It now boasts over 10,000 followers on its Facebook page.
“It’s a lot of work but tremendously fulfilling when the speakers for our streaming interviews or advertisers use the opportunity to video showcase their causes to our audience,” she said. “It’s our magazine come to life!”
Proud to have served as the McAllen Chamber’s 2019-2020 Chairwoman of the Board, Fraustro-Guerra continues to give back through her work with non-profits such as Catholic Charities, C.A.M.P. University, Texas Association for the Deaf, and working with several cities and school districts of the Valley. Serving on the Quinta Mazatlan board and several committees of UTRGV is proof Fraustro-Guerra’s life moves at a breakneck speed.
Her announcement of the new South Padre Island edition of SOCIALIFE has her excited about this next adventure, which will showcase the Island’s restaurants, events, and things to do.
Through it all, “The Connector” is an endless bundle of energy, having a positive influence on all those around her, especially on her family she so dearly loves.
Leaning back, a contented smile on her face, Fraustro-Guerra realizes her truth.
“I’ll forever be a humble servant to the community I love.”
Once again, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Man and Woman of the Year committee have chosen inspirational citizens with integrity, persistence, humility, and a willingness to do whatever they can to make McAllen the very best it can be.
Join the Chamber in honoring the Man and Woman of the Year on Thursday, October 7, at the McAllen Convention Center. Call Blanca at 956.682.2871 for more information.