Bush, who served as the nation's 43rd president from 2001 to 2009, now lives in Dallas. He is the namesake for the presidential library and museum at Southern Methodist University. He first appeared at the chamber’s annual meeting in 1994 while running for governor against then-incumbent Ann Richards.
The conversation, moderated by chamber CEO and President Bill Sproull, lasted about 30 minutes. In that time, Bush spoke candidly about the legacy of his parents, the dangers of isolationism and anti-immigrant sentiments, and the joy that painting has brought him in his retirement years.
Also recognized at the event was Citizen of the Year Charlie Chen, CEO of IT service provider DFW Technology and chairman of international business incubator DFW Innovation Center. Chen came to the United States 40 years ago to pursue the American dream and has spent the last 30 years focused on entrepreneurial endeavors in Richardson.
“I never dreamed of this type of recognition,” he said.
The event ended with a recap of the chamber’s 2019 accomplishments. Last year, it hosted the second annual iDream conference, an event that allows local seventh graders the opportunity to learn about possible career opportunities.
The chamber also launched its Discover Richardson website, a program that connects citizens to chamber member products, services and restaurants. Lastly, a chamber task force settled on “the IQ” as the official name for Richardson’s innovation district, a 1,200-acre industrial area east of Central Expressway that for the past several years has been the subject of an in-depth, city-led revitalization effort.