Texas Star Heritage Awards Gala
2017, Local Impact - G.P. Singh is a member of the San Antonio Sikh community. The entrepreneur with master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering went from working in his garage to building Karta Technologies, one of San Antonio’s largest defense contractors.
Singh has worked diligently after the events of 9/11 to spread the word on Sikhism and Sikh Americans, since their religious articles – men’s turbans and unshorn beards – are often associated with images of terrorists seen through news media.
Singh worked to bring the Smithsonian exhibit "Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab" to San Antonio and personally led dozens of tours to educate municipal, business and community leaders on the Sikh religion and the local Sikh community. His guests included San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, members of the World Affairs Council, representatives from the Department of Justice, the State Department, various law enforcement organizations such as the FBI, plus local media, religious organizations and more.
2017, Regional Impact - Janie Barrera is the founding president and CEO of LiftFund, a 22-year-old nonprofit small business lender. The organization began in San Antonio with one office and now operates 13 offices in 13 states. As a small business advocate and lender, LiftFund keeps small business alive and enables new generations to take charge of family-owned businesses.
Barrera grew up working in her parents’ small Mexican restaurant in Corpus Christi, a business that struggled without support from lending services. After 20 years of hard work, her parents retired with no pension. She realized entrepreneurs across the country struggled with the same dilemma, and she became determined to empower other small businesses through access to lending and financial education.
2017 Business or Organization - OCI Group (Our Community, Inc.) is a consulting firm whose business mentality equates economic and leadership development with social responsibility. The company acts as a capacity and bridge builder between education, nonprofits, startups, technology, government and other channels that contribute to the growth and welfare of the community.
OCI Group founding members include Managing Partner, H. Analco Gonzalez; Senior Partner, Luis G. Gonzalez; Partner, Ixchell Gonzalez; Partner, Olivia Travieso; Partner, Anita Fernandez; and Junior Partner, Jose Vidal. The group met through the youth leadership nonprofit, the National Hispanic Institute, and continue to volunteer with its San Antonio affiliate. Locally, they are known for facilitating the Lyft rideshare company’s entry into San Antonio, launching The Voting App with Think Voting to increase civic engagement and voter turnout, providing translation services for Bexar County’s Bibliotech, and facilitating local-level work for People en Espanol and Time, Inc. Nationally and internationally, they are known for representing companies that want to build a presence in emerging markets in Texas and the United States.