Dallas Hispanic Chamber Hires David L. Gonzales as CEO

After narrowing the candidates down to three, we’re proud to announce the unanimous decision to appoint David L. Gonzales as CEO of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. This has been a long journey for the GHDCC and we're extremely optomistic about the direction that Gonzales will take our organization.

For the Dallas Morning News' article, click CONTINUE READING below.

Dallas Hispanic chamber hires David L. Gonzales as CEO

Dallas Morning News
Staff Writer
Published 01 February 2011 11:49 AM

The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has hired local businessman David L. Gonzales as its new chief executive after a controversial, nearly two-year-long search.

The 72-year-old business group has been without a leader since April 2009, when former CEO Cici Rojas took a job in another state. It has more than 1,200 members and an annual budget of about $1.2 million.

Gonzales, a Dallas native, has experience as an entrepreneur, a Fortune 100 executive and a foundation director.

“Given that small business has been the economic engine for a long time … and the fact that we’re in one of the best economic areas, the chamber is the right place at the right time to drive business growth for the city,” said Gonzales, 60. “That’s very appealing to me.”

Recent U.S. Census Bureau data show that the Dallas County Latino population grew from 30 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2009.

In the next few months, Gonzales plans to shut down the leadership and social responsibility consulting firm he started in 2009. “This was a deliberate decision to give back to the community where I was born and raised,” he said.

The chamber was thrown into chaos in May 2009, when a dozen community leaders and small-business owners approached the board with allegations of financial misconduct, a “tainted” CEO search, partisanship and other issues. The community leaders demanded that the search stop and certain board members resign. Within days, more than a third of the board members quit and the CEO search came to a halt. Last year, two independent financial audits found no wrongdoing.

In August, the chamber hired David Gomez & Associates Inc., a Chicago-based boutique executive search firm, to lead a national CEO hunt. The firm considered a pool of more than 200 candidates and narrowed that down to three finalists by December, said president David Gomez.

Last week, the chamber’s six-person search committee interviewed the three finalists and unanimously scored Gonzales the highest on a 17-item checklist, said chairman Angel L. Reyes III. The committee consisted of Reyes; last year’s chairman, Ricardo Ortiz; and board members Catherine Pena, Alyssa Salas, Sandy Salinas and Aaron Liverpool.

Reyes would not disclose the names of the other finalists, but he said all three were from North Texas.

“David had terrific skills in respect to presentation … and a solid background in corporate America and working on a foundation,” Reyes said. He noted that having a local person in the job is a plus because some members already know Gonzales.

“He’s the right person for the job,” said Ricardo Ortiz, who served as chairman from May 2009 through last month. “He was great in presenting and laying out his vision.”

Gonzales knows he must build trust in the community, and he’s in the process of creating a strategic plan with input from Latino community leaders, corporate leaders and chamber members. He plans to focus on three key areas: increasing the growth and competitiveness of members; forming a strategic partnership with corporations to drive business with the Latino community; and making the chamber a center for leadership in the region.

Gonzales’ base salary is $130,000 a year.

Community members are cautiously optimistic.

“Certainly, [Gonzales’] credentials on paper are good,” said Gustavo Bujanda, a vice president at the multicultural Axis Agency and a critic of the chamber’s CEO hiring process. “The fact that he’s bilingual will push the chamber in being more pro-active to the many Spanish-speaking small-business owners in the Dallas area and restoring credibility to the chamber to weigh in again on important issues. It’s a voice that’s long been absent and should be there.”

Ann Marie Weiss-Armush, who runs DFW International Community Alliance in North Texas, hopes the chamber and Gonzalez will make an effort to represent the entire Latino community in the Dallas area.

The Latino population in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has jumped 600 percent since 1990, with many being foreign born, Weiss-Armush said. “We know our continued economic success depends on these newcomers, yet their voices are rarely heard,” she said.

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