|HARLINGEN, April 18 - One of the most influential Latinos in the nation has predicted that a group of young Harlingen residents can go further than he has in his illustrious career.
Moises V. ‘Moe’ Vela, Jr., was honored by Harlingen City Commission at a city meeting on Wednesday with Mayor Chris Boswell proclaiming the day “Moises Vela, Jr., Day.” In his remarks, Vela encouraged members of the Rising Leaders Class who were in the audience to aim big.
“To the young people right here in Harlingen, I am a graduate of Harlingen High School and the first Latino to go twice to the White House. I will tell you something, if I can do that so can you. And you are going to go higher than I did,” Vela predicted.
Vela, a native of Harlingen, was the first Latino to serve in senior executive positions in two administrations at the White House. He was chief financial officer and senior advisor on Latino affairs for Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton administration and director of administration for Vice President Joe Biden during the Obama administration.
His contributions to national public policy led National Journal to name Vela one of the Top 100 Hispanics and one of 300 Top Decision Makers in the United States.
Vela’s parents were with him when he received the proclamation from Mayor Boswell. In his remarks, Vela paid tribute to his them. He said he learned from his parents the importance of a strong work ethic and a “can do spirit.” He said the old adage, ‘What is given to one, much more is expected,’ was instilled in him at an early age. “That is the way we were raised,” Vela said.
Also in attendance were Manny Vela, CEO of Valley Baptist Medical Center, who is Vela’s brother, and Ralph Vela, who is Vela’s cousin. Vela said his brother is making sure that when Harlingen residents are sick they get the highest quality healthcare in the nation. Vela said Ralph Vela side of the family was raised in exactly the same way, to serve the community. Ralph Vela is brother to Congressman Filemon Vela.
Vela said everyday Congressman Vela starts work at 6 a.m. and finishes at 12 midnight. He said the congressman was “fighting” in Congress for the people of his district. “That’s a continual effort on my family’s part,” he said.
Vela also paid tribute to Mayor Boswell. He said he was on first name terms with many of the top mayors in the nation, including Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, Denise Parker, the mayor of Houston, and Christine Quinn, who, Vela said, will be the next mayor of New York. Vela said Mayor Boswell was their equal.
“I was with you yesterday. I watched you in action because I brought guests from New York that I want to invest in Harlingen,” Vela said to Boswell. “I watched your mayor in action and let me tell you something, he is right up there with those mayors of those major cities in this country and I thank you for your leadership,” Vela told the audience.
Vela also praised Harlingen city commissioners. “Thank you for your service. As someone who has dedicated his life to public service, I know the sacrifices you have made to serve your community. It does not go unnoticed and to the people of Harlingen I say make sure they never, ever, fail to recognize how much you appreciate what they do for you because it is a tremendous sacrifice to serve you,” Vela said.
Vela closed his remarks by saying: “You can take the boy out of Harlingen but you cannot take Harlingen out of the boy. I can tell you this - Al Gore and Joe Biden know where Harlingen is.”
Mayor Boswell read aloud the proclamation the City of Harlingen passed in recognition of Vela. There was loud applause when he finished. Here is the proclamation:
Whereas Moises V. “Moe” Vela, Jr., is native of Harlingen, Texas, a graduate of Harlingen High School in 1980 and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, St. Mary’s University School of Law, and
Whereas Mr. Vela acknowledges his parents and their influence in leading him to continue service because his parents were always involved as community leaders, working with numerous organizations over the years, meeting so many wonderful people and always willing to serve the public, and
Whereas before returning to school to study for his law degree he went to New York to try to make it on Broadway as a singer, and
Whereas Mr. Vela is a lawyer, government advisor and Hispanic leader named by the National Journal as one of the Top 100 Hispanics and 300 Top Decision Makers in the United States, and
Whereas he is the first to serve in senior executive roles in the White House, first during the Clinton Administration as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Advisor on Latino Affairs in the office of Al Gore and later during the Obama Administration as Director of Administration for Joe Biden, vice president of the United States, and
Whereas after his services with Vice President Gore he helped launch a cyber space company, later creating the consulting company Diverse Directions, supporting the development of Latino marketing strategies and community outreach, and
Whereas his achievements, including the creation of El Centro, Legal Latino in Birmingham, Alabama, helping to educate members of the southeast United States Latino community on their legal rights, and
Whereas he served in the following capacities of public service in organizations, founder and first Chair of the Alabama Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, an organization that includes over 12,000 members from 48 states, Senior Vice President of multi-cultural strategies at United Dominion Realty Trust, president of his own consulting firm, Comunidades LLC, staff member of the Texas House of Representatives, committee clerk and legislative director for state Rep. Rene Oliveira, and committee clerk for state Sen. Eddie Lucio, and
Whereas he is currently a partner in the public policy and regulation group at Holland & Knight, in Washington, D.C., focusing on client development, government relations, strategic communications, regulatory affairs and Hispanic and LGBT outreach, and
Whereas the City of Harlingen expresses its sincere appreciation and thanks for his strong leadership and public service and his earned the admiration and high regard of top civic leaders and the affection of a host of individuals for his deep and genuine love for public service therefore I, Chris Boswell, mayor of the City of Harlingen, hereby proclaim today Moises Vela. Jr., Day and call upon all citizens to recognize this.