Passion for the Chamber Leads to Bob Goodwin Awards


Alma Ortega-Johnson, Martha Cipriano-Brooks, Francy Jones and Sally Fraustro Guerra

Four Chamber members have been awarded the Bob Goodwin Award after having sold over $10,000 worth of memberships.

“I worked at the Chamber as the Membership Director for five years in the ‘80s,” said award winner Francy Jones, Public Relations and Marketing Director for Castle Hospitality, LTD.

“I had the pleasure to work side by side with Bob Goodwin. He was an Ambassador along with Alida Hernandez and Dora Brown, and many others. They were always competing with each other to get more members,” she continued. Bob was a unique individual, a handsome man always in a suit with one of his great ties! He would go to every ribbon cutting and almost every opening. Bob was the face of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. It means a lot to me to win this since I knew him personally.”

Winning this was no easy feat and came as a surprise to these four professional business women. More surprising was the driving force behind their wins.

“McAllen is a vibrant community, and I really love it, which motivates me to help improve it. Selling memberships for the Chamber is an easy sell and a great way to help the community,” explained winner Alma Ortega-Johnson, area president, South Texas Region, Wells Fargo Bank. “There are so many benefits the Chamber provides to its members and even non-members. But, the root reason I help is they promote the economic growth in McAllen. I want McAllen’s economy to continue to grow, and the Chamber is absolutely key.”

Passion. That is the magic word in the work-a-day world that motivates people to succeed. And these four women are passionate about McAllen.

“The Chamber holds a very special place in my heart because I was born and raised in McAllen,” said Sally Fraustro-Guerra, broker/realtor at Coldwell Banker La Mansion. “It was while I worked with Mike Allen at the MEDC that I became involved with the Chamber. I made a lot of friends then and they are still my friends. I’m a big believer in the Chamber and its purpose, helping the community and businesspeople. So, I’ll ask friends, customers and Valley newcomers to join, and it doesn’t take much convincing.”

Fourth winner, Martha Cipriano-Brooks, licensed public insurance adjuster and account executive with Clearent-Intelligent Solutions, uses the Chamber as a sales tool.

“Everybody loves to buy, but nobody likes to be sold,” she said. When you go to a business and talk about the Chamber, you make friends and develop relationships. Before you know it, they’ll begin asking questions which will lead back to my reason for being there. It allows you the opportunity to lead with your Chamber foot instead of your sales foot.”

The winners discussed the benefits which makes the McAllen Chamber an easy sell.

“If you attend the Business Network Luncheons and the Good Day McAllen Luncheons, you’ll have a good network,” said Jones. “If you want to get involved, there are so many different ways: the International Committee, the Greeters, the Membership Ambassadors. It’s fun to get active in the Chamber.”

“In the professional development area, the Chamber offers a lot of low-cost seminars for members and non-members,” Ortega-Johnson added. “This Chamber covers everyone in the community, no matter the level of income, no matter who they are. For example, Latina Hope is an initiative the Chamber started in 2010, partnering with Wells Fargo and United Way, investing human resources to train Hispanic women to generate extra income for their households.”

All discussed the Chamber’s bountiful benefits, from the Business Expo, Travel & Adventure Show, the Creative Incubator, the Idea Place, and the newest addition, Tech Place to helping and promoting entrepreneurs through the I & E Network, Innovation Grants, and Government Affairs.
There is also Casa McAllen in Monterrey, tourism promotion, and the Chamber’s strong involvement in the regionalization movement in the Valley, as well as the many family and community events.

“Being involved with the Chamber gives us a chance to be some of the movers and shakers in the community,” Cipriano-Brooks said. “As a result we give back to the Chamber. I know the staff has so much to do with all the events so I enjoy being able to help.”

“It’s easy to invite newcomers to the galas because the McAllen Chamber is definitely the most active and most involved in the area,” Fraustro-Guerra added. “After 25 years of working with the Chamber, I know its events are extremely productive.”

Each award recipient recognized the fact that people like to use Chamber members when the need arises because they’ve met each other at a function or know if they are Chamber members, they are probably in good standing in the community.

“People trust businesses because they are Chamber members,” Jones pointed out.

Now that the four have won the award, are they content to settle back and let others take over? Apparently not.

“It’s kind of motivated me to get more memberships,” admitted Jones.

“I believe it’s an easy sell and we’re not going to stop,” Ortega-Johnson replied. “We’re not doing this to be on the cover of the newsletter. We do this because we love McAllen.”

“I shop, eat and go to movies in McAllen,” Cipriano-Brooks responded. “I’ll continue selling.”

“I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing without counting,” Fraustro-Guerra answered, grinning. “Maybe I’ll win again in another 10 years!”