MCALLEN, Texas – Seven former chairs of McAllen Chamber of Commerce have written to McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos to express concern over the current leadership of the chamber’s board of directors.

In a joint letter, Dora Brown, Joe Brown, Bob McCreery, Karen Valdez, Charles Marina, Maurice Welton, and Larry Delgado claim the McAllen Chamber is currently in “turmoil.”

Without naming her directly, the former chairs are clearly unhappy with performance of the current Board Chair Annette Franz. 

“Never have we seen the actions of one Chair cause so much unrest within the Chamber, among our Chamber staff and within the Business community of McAllen,” the former chairs wrote.

The former chairs say the McAllen Chamber had a great reputation under the leadership of its former president, Steve Ahlenius. He left abruptly last month. 

“We wish to express our disappointment in the actions of the current board of directors and plead for your intervention in securing a change of leadership on the Board of Directors,” the seven former chairs wrote, in their letter to Villalobos.

The letter ends: “Our request is that you restore order to our beloved Chamber before irreparable damage is done to it or our Great City.”

Villalobos received the letter as an attachment to an email from Delgado (pictured above), a master chef and restaurant owner in McAllen. The subject line was marked “Confidential.” The Rio Grande Guardian received the email and the letter via an open records request to the City of McAllen.

Here is what Delgado wrote:

Good evening Mayor,

The attached letter represents the sentiment of some of your past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. While we concede that Steve Ahlenius may not be salvageable, we all agree that the Chamber of Commerce is. Thank you for your time.

Larry Delgado

Chef/Owner

Delgado Collective

Here is the letter Delgado and the six other former McAllen Chamber chairs sent Mayor Villalobos:

November 5, 2021

Dear Mayor Villalobos,

We write you in response to the turmoil currently disrupting the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. We wish to express our disappointment in the actions of the current board of directors and plead for your intervention in securing a change in leadership on the Board of Directors.

As former Chair of the board and having served many years on the Board of Directors, we are no strangers to conflict, hardship, or difference of opinion. We are, however, shocked at how quickly and utterly devastating current matters have negatively impacted the reputation and the future of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Never have we seen the actions of one Chair cause so much unrest within the Chamber, among the Chamber staff, and within the Business community of McAllen.

Throughout the years we have held our heads high with honor and a great sense of pride for all that the McAllen Chamber of Commerce has stood for and accomplished. This Chamber has stood head and should above any in our region and perhaps the Great State of Texas and has set the standard of excellence for over 20 years culminating in National recognition for their work. The Chamber staff, under the leadership of Steve Ahlenius have worked tirelessly to fulfill the mission of the Chamber to help McAllen businesses be successful and make money, accelerate connections, create economic momentum, and enhance the image and quality of place of McAllen. Our request is that you restore order to our beloved Chamber before irreparable damage is done to it or our Great City.

Respectfully,

Dora Brown, 

Chairman of the Board 2005

Joe Brown

Chairman of the Board 2010

Bob McCreery

Chairman of the Board 2011

Karen Valdez

Chairman fo the Board 2012

Charles Marina

Chairman of the Board 2016

Maurice Welton

Chairman of the Board 2017

Larry Delgado

Chairman of the Board 2019


Editor’s Note: We invite other McAllen business leaders to express their views on the current situation at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Please send your comments to Steve Taylor via [email protected] or Ron Whitlock via [email protected]


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