He inherits a chamber confronting a public protest as well as calls for financial and board transparency (see "Agendas Cross in the USHCC Boardroom," September 2002).
Mr. Gonzales, CEO of the public relations firm JRG Communications, spoke with Hispanic Business via telephone from Austin, Texas.
HB: What is your platform as chairman? What projects or issues do you plan to emphasize? Any major changes?
JRG: Here are some bullet points we're going to be working on: •Increasing procurement to chambers, and better access to capital for chambers. We have a procurement committee that last year concentrated on corporate markets; now they're expanding their focus to the government. We're working to expand opportunities for members – not chambers, but individual businesses that belong to those chambers. The USHCC should be a vehicle and clearinghouse for those opportunities. •Increasing membership and outreach efforts. According to the last annual report, the USHCC has increased membership from 91 members in 1998 to 133 in 2002. •Developing a program under which local chambers can receive a percentage of investment dollars when corporations invest with the USHCC. •Fostering outreach to other Hispanic organizations and working with those who share our agenda. HB: How about the coalition [of chambers]. How do you plan to handle its emergence? You are talking with them, right?
JRG: Ever since the [USHCC] convention we have maintained dialogue with individuals and organizations about the process. Let me emphasize that the process has always been open. The process used in Los Angeles was used in Atlanta and the previous conventions.
But every few years, we need to revisit the processes. The election process is one, but the credentialing process is another. We can make the process more user-friendly. But it has always been open, with the procedures in writing and available in advance.
HB: Do you still plan to appoint a task force to study the election process?
JRG: Done. The task force is chaired by Scott Flores, USHCC vice-chairman [and CEO of Colorado-based Die Cut Technologies]. Each region will appoint one member to the task force to ensure inclusion. Once the task force comes out with its recommendations, they will be circulated organization-wide. Then the board will take a look at them, make its recommendations, and circulate it again.
HB: How did Scott Flores become vice-chairman? Does the chairman select the vice-chairman, or is he elected by the board?
JRG: Scott Flores was elected by the board. [Under the election process] before the board meeting, people submit paperwork on their intentions. When I was elected to the board, four people ran for chairman: Ray Arvizu, David Lizárraga, George Franco, and myself. Other people filed in the election of the vice-chair, and Scott Flores won.
HB: Before the Los Angeles convention, the USHCC board was working to release some of the chamber's financial information to the membership. What is the status of that initiative?