Last week Southwest Key CEO/el Presidente Dr. Juan Sanchez was honored by being named Best CEO in the non-profit category at the Austin Business Journal‘s 2012 Best CEO Awards party. The event, according to ABJ Editor Colin Pope, was the culmination of a months-long process steered by a panel of esteemed business leaders. Judges evaluated all aspects of a CEO’s performance — from revenue to company culture. Below is Dr. Sanchez’s acceptance speech from the event on Thursday night during which he praised his team proclaiming, “good staff make you look good,” and seized the opportunity to pitch his company’s cause to a roomful of Austin’s most influential business leaders. “Austin is a wonderful place,” he told them, “but there are pockets in our city that have a lot of challenges and that need some work.”
In a special 2012 Best CEOs feature, Dr. Sanchez answered questions about his success in working with underprivileged kids in East Austin and across America. In signature form, he frankly discussed the mixed reactions his activist style has received and how it ultimately lead to Southwest Key’s success over the long run.
My strategy of being a community activist with a raised fist has had its drawbacks. On occasion I have upset the local school district and City Council members by pointing out their underperformance and for neglecting this impoverished community. But in my commitment to securing funds to transform this community, I have won the support we needed from businesses in Austin, government organizations, and local, state, and federal grants to build the Southwest Key’s $8 million El Centro de Familia complex and the $3 million Social Enterprise Complex.
Indeed Dr. Sanchez’s results speak for themselves. Today Southwest Key serves over 6,000 young people and their families in six states. Quite an accomplishment from humble beginnings in a basement in San Antonio in 1987.
“I think it’s a tremendous honor,” said Alexia Rodriguez, Southwest Key Vice President of Immigrant Services. “One that Juan deserves considering the amount of energy and passion he’s put into growing this company for the past 25 years. All of us at Southwest Key are proud to be part of his team.”