Today, A.J. Rodriguez starts his new role at Texas 2036 as Executive Vice President. Read why he joined our non-profit after serving as Chairman of the Texas Association of Business while an executive at Zachry Group, Deputy City Manager in San Antonio, and President and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:
What’s the next chapter in Texas’ incredible story?
Our state has an incredible story.
In 2019, the University of Texas Press published “Big Wonderful Thing,” written by author Stephen Harrigan. The book reads like a novel about our great state’s history — with all the beauty, suspense, kindness, strength, tragedy, loss, and even horror you’d never expect from a history book.
It’s all there, unglamorized, profound, genuine … This is where we came from. This is Texas.
Every issue facing Texas today resonates with echoes from our past. These lessons of struggle and perseverance, setbacks and victory repeat and reverberate. There’s a proverb that says, “We don’t inherit the world from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
“So, what kind of world will our children inherit in 2036, when Texas turns 200?”
San Antonio just celebrated its tricentennial last year. For us, the future is as tangible as the past. So, the question for all of us is what should the state be doing today to turn obstacles into opportunities that will shape Texas’ story for years to come?
How can we work together to overcome the challenges our growing population will place on our schools, infrastructure, health care, and economy? How can we make progress towards reversing negative trends so that future generations take note of our perseverance, creativity, foresight, and ultimately success in giving our children an even better world than we found? How can our society evolve in a more profound way to create a deeper level of existence and appreciation for one another?
We can’t know for sure what challenges and opportunities future generations will face — just as no one in 1820 or 1920 imagined that so much of Texas’ future would eventually hang on issues like addressing the digital divide or seamless pipelines taking students from pre-K to the workforce. On issues like education, health care and infrastructure, Texas’ current challenges to some degree result from decisions made in the past. It’s important to know our history — it’s more important that we make history with the time we have right now.
What will we do with this opportunity? How far will we go? How daring are we willing to be to make sure today’s problems don’t roll into tomorrow?
I believe Texas 2036’s noble endeavor is to ask and facilitate arriving with answers to all these questions. Tom Luce, an iconic civic leader in Texas, launched the group to ensure Texas remains the best place to live and work in a generation and beyond. He and the board engaged Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of Education, to lead this effort. She has invited me to be part of this aspirational and ambitious work and I’m honored to join the Texas 2036 team.
Back when I was in school, my government professor would call tests and quizzes “opportunities.” Well, here we are. Texas faces a historic test that endures a pandemic, social justice issues and civil unrest, a recession and, in just four months, an unprecedented legislative session demanding attention to these and many more concerns.
As a state and a community — as neighborhoods, businesses and individuals — we can celebrate our state’s bicentennial in 2036 with the promise of unimaginable “opportunities” and continued progress for tomorrow.