John Hernandez - President/CEO of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
John Hernandez grew up in San Antonio, Texas where he completed his education through the 8th grade. After dropping out of school, John worked odd jobs from construction to bussing tables to working on an oil rig. In 1992, John was offered a manufacturing job at Certainteed, however, the position required a high school diploma or equivalent, prompting John to get his GED. After working a few years at Certainteed, John sought a position in management within the company but found that the position required a college degree. As an international company, Certainteed encouraged him towards a degree in international business and economics. As a part of his studies, John completed an international internship where he spent a year in Chihuahua, Mexico at Tech de Monterrey. John graduated from Midwestern State University with his BA in 1999.
That year, John transferred to a different division within Certainteed, bringing him to the DFW Metroplex. Soon after his transfer, John was approached about a promotion to a corporate executive position but found that the position would require an MBA. John received his MBA in 2004 from Southern Methodist University with an emphasis in finance and strategy.
Soon after earning his MBA, John made the move to the banking industry. John started as a relationship manager with Bank of America and was eventually promoted to the Private Bank with a subsequent transfer to Fort Worth. It was during his time in Fort Worth that John moved to J.P. Morgan Chase as a Private Client Manager.
John left the banking industry in 2008 to pursue his passion: restoring classic cars. Using the management and business principles he had acquired thus far, John found a way to turn his passion into a business. That year, he started Headliner Custom Interiors, where he successfully designed, customized and restored classic cars. In 2015, John sold the company to his employees who still run it today.
Later that year, John assumed leadership of the FWHCC after having served two terms as a board member. As president of the organization, John is responsible for the effective implementation, communications and operations of the Chamber in order to carry out the Chamber’s mission and vision. Under John’s administration, the Chamber has undergone a complete rebranding with a new mission and vision of inclusion and strategic partnerships.
John serves on the boards of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., Fort Worth Sister Cities, Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, is an ex-officio member of the Fort Worth Chamber and participates on multiple committees including Congresswoman Kay Granger’s Hispanic Advisory Committee, the City of Fort Worth Minority Advisory Committee, the BlueZones Steering Committee and the Fort Worth Film Commission.
Because of his background, John is passionate about promoting education and inspiring kids to stay in school. John continuously pursues opportunities to speak with students about the importance of staying in school and pursuing their passion.
In his free time, John enjoys boxing and still designs and customizes classic cars.
Gabriel Starling - Founder of Tough Stars Gives Back
Gabriel Starling was born in Duncanville TX on March 10th, 2008.
Gabriel became a FortWorthian in the summer of 2016.He now attends North Elementary.
Gabriel’s passion for supporting others can be traced back to when he was 7 years old. Where he spent significant time raising money and awareness on what Breast Cancer is and what Cancer does. His goal no kid should ever be without a Mama. That year he raised more than $20 thousand dollars. He donated these funds to Cancer Care Services on behalf of our amazing friend Emily McLaughlin.
Gabriel Starling, 10, is still in elementary school and, already, is the founder of a new nonprofit. The 501(c)3 Tough Stars Gives Back supports charitable and educational purposes with the goal of engaging the community.
With that goal in mind, Starling hosted his first annual basketball tournament with the Fort Worth Police Department taking on the Fort Worth Fire Department.
"His dream is that everyone understands that our first responders are also human," said Gloria Starling, Gabriel's mom. "They have families and while we are home sleeping and spending time with our loved ones, they are out there risking their life.
The biggest victory, though, may have gone to the kids at Kirkpatrick Middle School were at the tournament. Gabriel added a bike and basketball drive.