On May 1, The Greater Chamber presented U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison with the Pathfinder Award, The Chamber’s highest honor. The award is given to a pioneer, a leader who has forged new and innovative courses for the benefit of those who follow. Senator Hutchison has been a Pathfinder throughout her career in public service that started in 1972.
Senator Hutchison is best known in San Antonio as Texas’ key leader in Washington who helped the city cope with, and then find strength in, two rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), when the city was facing huge losses in economic impact, military personnel and civilian jobs.
During the first BRAC of the late 1990s, Senator Hutchison worked in Washington, D.C. helping plan and fund the transformation of Kelly Air Force Base into Port San Antonio. Due to her efforts and city leadership, Port San Antonio now is home to more jobs than were lost in the base closure.
Then in the 2005 BRAC, her leadership allowed for substantial funding and construction at Fort Sam Houston on what is now the center for all military medicine.
Senator Hutchison also blazed a trail in developing and restoring San Antonio’s beloved river just south of the River Walk. She has played a leading role in the efforts, securing $75 million for the Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project, one of the nation’s largest ecosystem restoration initiatives. This project is transforming an eight mile stretch of the river, restoring riverine features and riparian woodlands, reintroducing native plants, enhancing the aquatic habitat, and reconnecting cultural and historical features.
“The extension of San Antonio’s River Walk simply would not have happened without the support and federal funding from Kay Bailey Hutchison,” former Mayor Phil Hardberger.
Senator Hutchison has served as a U.S. Senator for 19 years. She will retire from office at the end of her current term which expires this year.
Former Chamber President and CEO Joe Krier, now partner with Krier Consulting Group, worked closely with Senator Hutchison on many of her initiatives in San Antonio and throughout the state.
Krier said, “There is no question that Kay Bailey Hutchison was always going to be a leader for our state. The second she entered public life, people realized this is a woman who is going places and is going to get things done for Texas.”