McAllen Chamber announces McAllen’s Man & Woman of the Year 2012

The McAllen Chamber is proud to announce Dr. John Gerling, DDS, MSD and Becky Guerra owner of Nuevo Santander Gallery and The Patio on Guerra as the 2012 Man & Woman of the Year.  Since 1955, the Chamber has honored outstanding individuals for their contributions to the City of McAllen.  These men and women are not only successful in their careers, but also volunteer countless hours serving on committees and boards, supporting worthy causes and making a positive impact on our community. 


Although Becky Guerra was born and raised in San Antonio, she considers the Rio Grande Valley home.  After graduating from The University of Texas in San Antonio, with a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, she arrived in McAllen with her first professional job.  She met and married her husband, Che, in 1989.  They lived in the rural community of Linn-San Manuel their first 8 years and had their 3 children, Jose Manuel, Francisco and Rebecca. 


Becky Guerra along with her husband Che opened the Nuevo Santander Gallery in McAllen in 1998.  The gallery was welcomed by the community and soon Che and Becky began hosting fundraisers for many worthy organizations in their art space.  The gallery has also become an educational space that area art classes from elementary to college level frequent with field trips. 


Nine years ago, she developed the concept of hosting a monthly ARTWALK in McAllen in the hopes of increasing the publics’ awareness and experience with art.  She organized an initial group of 7 “art hosts” and today the ARTWALK has become a major attraction for the city of McAllen.  Each month running from September through May, ARTWALK now attracts thousands of visitors. McAllen has become the forerunner in the arts industry of the Rio Grande Valley.  Becky frequently serves as a guest speaker for Leadership McAllen, talking about the arts in McAllen as well as downtown development.  


In 2008, Che and his cousin, Arturo Guerra, opened a restaurant in downtown McAllen, The Patio on Guerra.  It is located in the heart of the McAllen Entertainment District on 17th street.  Becky runs the day to day operations of the restaurant.   The Entertainment District grew rapidly when it was formed and has suffered some growing pains.  With the hopes of consolidating the strengths and experience of stakeholders in this area, she has organized the new 17th Street District Bar and Restaurant Association.  This group is now working with the city of McAllen to identify and provide solutions to create a positive, fun and exciting environment for the community.


Dr. John Gerling graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1973 with a degree in biology.  After working in the medical equipment business for several years, Dr. Gerling began attending Baylor Dental School in 1978 with the goal of becoming a general dentist.  He attended another 2 full time academic years to receive a Master of Science in Dentistry and a certificate in orthodontics. 


Dr. Gerling moved to McAllen in 1983, and devoted the next 15 years to building a successful practice then decided it was time to give back to community by contributing to the development of educational assets and promoting scientific literacy and appreciation of art and culture.


He became involved first with the International Museum of Art & Science and served on that board for over 10 years.  During that tenure, he was board president for 3 years with his proudest moment being the opening of the ongoing Science on a Sphere exhibit, a beautiful educational exhibit that holds young students in rapt attention as they learn about the Earth and universe.


Later, Dr. Gerling became involved with the Palm Valley Animal Center (PVAC) as a board member where he served for 5 years and, with his wife, Becky, served as co-chair of the first ever Puppy Love fundraiser, which has become a fixture in the community.  PVAC's funds and efforts go to educating pet owners on how to be responsible and to improving facilities to make the pets in its custody more comfortable. 


Dr. Gerling presently serves on the board of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, which has a great talent pool of the community's business leaders dedicated to bringing more and better jobs to the city and region.  Also, for two years to the present, Dr. Gerling serves on the Quinta Mazatlan advisory board as president where he helps education in several areas including ecology, sustainability and awareness of the natural world.  Quinta Mazatlan recently opened the Discovery Center and Ruby Pond, which is used to promote environmental awareness. 


He has also participated in 5 medical/dental mission trips to Honduras sponsored by St. John's Church.  Through these trips, he has gained a greater awareness of just how fortunate Americans are to have access to a higher level of comfort, security and health care. 


Dr. John Gerling and Becky Guerra will be honored at the Chamber’s 58th Annual Banquet “A Tribute to Service: To the Men & Women of our Armed Forces & Veterans” featuring Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ricardo S. Sanchez on Thursday, November 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the McAllen Convention Center.  For ticket information, please contact Blanca Cardenas at 682-2871 or


For more information, contact the McAllen Chamber of Commerce at 956-682-2871.

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