El Concilio President Jose Rodriguez Receives SJHCC John Aguilar Spirit Award

This month, Jose Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of El Concilio, will be honored by the San Joaquin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SJHCC) with the John Aguilar Spirit Award at its 44th Annual Awards Dinner Luncheon.  “This has been a remarkable year for El Concilio,” Jose Rodriguez modestly points out which includes the agency being named the National Council of La Raza’s 2015 affiliate of the year, “which has put all our efforts – the managers, staff, and coordinators – and our innovative, comprehensive social and educational programs, which serve and are available to everyone in the Central Valley, in the national spotlight.  I’m merely the recipient for all of us at El Concilio and the work we do on behalf of the community.”
Founded during the civil rights movement by five visionary leaders with a grant from the Catholic Diocese in 1968, El Concilio has evolved with the times and changing needs of the Central Valley to establish a distinguished record of accomplishment.
In 1996, Rodriguez was an attorney working in the organization’s legal services when he was asked to step in as executive director for one year while a search committee interviewed for a permanent replacement for the outgoing director.  “That was 20 years ago, and I’m still here” A modest man, Rodriguez cannot hide the organization’s accomplishments and growth during his tenure.  “When I started our annual budget was $1 million, that’s now $10 million.  We’ve gone from 30 employees to 200; and from only two operating sites to nine.  Our growth has been challenging, but it’s also been rewarding.  We have a very dedicated and well-educated staff, who is always asking ‘what more can we do?  How can we make it better?  What is changing in our community that wasn’t there yesterday that we need to address today?’  We all have pride in serving the community, which is why we see January’s convening as an important affirmation of all our good work and commitment to the community’s accomplishments.”
Those accomplishments include plan for the development of a multi-faceted vocational program and an El Concilio’s innovative New American Pathways Immigrant Integration Program (offering free citizenship instruction classes and comprehensive immigration legal services to the Central Valley’s more than 250,000 permanent legal immigrants eligible for citizenship for a stronger California and America. “John Aguilar was extremely committed to the Latino community, youth and education,” Rodriguez says with a smile of admiration.  “It is everything that we at El Concilio strive for; and receiving this award is an incredible honor”
John Aguilar was the Founder/President CEO of Vernon Transportation Company in Stockton California.  He was the Chair of the SJHCC’s Government Relations Committee and served as the President-Elect of our Chamber upon his untimely passing in July 2008 at the age of 49.  A graduate of Loyola Marymount University, Aguilar started John Aguilar & Company, later changing the name to Vernon Transportation, as it became one of the largest haulers of bulk sugar in the Western United States and one of the top 100 Minority Business Suppliers across the country.
John Aguilar loved his family, his employees, and his community.  He contributed financially as well as volunteering time in support of youth and to advancing education for underprivileged students.
So, it is only right that the SJHCC bestows the John Aguilar Spirit award “to an individual who has advanced and championed the cause of the Hispanic Community”.  Sylvester Aguilar, current president of the SJHCC, notes with pride “is important that we continue to recognize this pioneer in business with this award.  John worked tirelessly to advance our Hispanic community integrating them into our community and helping small business become successful and well represented”
The SJHCC’s selection and approval of an individual for the John Aguilar Spirit Award is very important and one the Board does not take lightly.  As for Jose Rodriguez, Sylvester Aguilar is effusive in his admiration.  “There were many individuals considered but Jose’ name rose to the top.  Jose has dedicated his whole career helping integrate and educate the Hispanic community so they too can experience the American Dream.  We couldn’t be happier to be able to acknowledge Jose’s great work building El Concilio to what it is today and reaching out to so many in our community.”
Look at all their programs and look at their history and the quality of their board who respect his work enough to serve. I remember when El Concilio’s board was about 5 people, which included the bishop a lieutenant from the sheriff ‘s department, a housewife/volunteer extraordinaire, a college student and the executive director back in the early 80’s.”  Now, when you look at El Concilio’s Board, “we are not only talking about successful, influential politically astute leaders in the Central Valley but of California.  The growth in the number of people he and his wonderful staff have reached and his ability to get his budget to the level it is now is also a testament to his success. He is a true leader in our community.”
Still, for Rodriguez, while accepting of the agency’s accomplishment, his humility gives the credit to El Concilio.  As he continually likes to say, “we’ve got history here – almost 50 years – and continued to grow and provide services that the community so desperately needs.  We’ve created the success that we’ve worked so hard to bring to our community – the pursuit of a quality education, affordable health care and the opportunity to realize the American Dream.  It’s a love we all bring to our work at El Concilio.”
Other business leaders being honored at the event include Business of the Year, Tokay Press; Corporate Member of the Year, Entravision Communications; Volunteer of the Year, Eric Vaughn, Red Truck Designs; Business Advocate of the Year, Brenna Butler Garcia, Manager, Marketing & External Engagement, WSPA; Community Based Organization, YMCA of San Joaquin County.

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