EL PASO, Texas - Strong, bold, positive.
Those are the words El Paso Businessman Richard Castro used to describe two top El Paso Independent School District leaders during a luncheon recognizing the El Pasoans of the Year.
Superintendent Juan Cabrera and Board President Dori Fenenbock were honored for their work to earn the community's trust and transform the district.
The awards are presented by El Paso Inc., a weekly business news publication and ABC-7's news partner.
"Years ago, I was sitting out there just like you," said Fenenbock before receiving the award. "As mother, taxpayer and community member I knew that great schools were the best ladder for economic development."
So she decided to do something about it.
Inspired by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In," Fenenbock set to become a school trustee in 2013. She had never ran for office or ran a political campaign. Not only did she win the trustee position, but her colleagues elected her board president. She was quick to offer praise for them, too.
Fenenbock and Cabrera were the most public faces of EPISD's campaign to pass a $668 million bond to modernize the district last year.
"Against all odds, we passed the largest bond in El Paso's history. It took grit and determination, and we never gave up," said Fenenbock.
That big infusion of funds will help them offer a higher-quality education and provide EPISD students with a competitive edge as they implement dual language education throughout the district, increase access to technology and WiFi and create innovative programs like the "New Tech" campuses that challenge the regular teaching models.
"I want you to know that we have bold leaders making bold decisions but we need your support to keep moving this district forward," she said.
Superintendent Cabrera echoed the call for community involvement when he alluded to the district's darker days when the Texas Education Agency took it over following a cheating scandal and its previous superintendent's conviction.
"We, together, collectively had lost our district and we, collectively, took it back," he said.
Cabrera said he came to El Paso with hopes to make a difference. His mother and brother, ABC-7 Anchor Rick Cabrera, were already living here. The superintendent said he has already spent 40 months here and joked that he hopes that --along with his commitment to the community-- qualifies him as an El Pasoan.
Then, he shared his optimism for the future.
"We're nowhere near the goals we want to achieve but we've laid down the ground work. We're not done yet," he said. "The best is yet to come."
Recognizing a pillar of the Community
Betty Moor MacGuire received the 2016 Community Spirit award during Wednesday's luncheon.
MacGuire has played a role in many of El Paso's charitable foundations. She was the Chair of the El Paso Community Foundation when it rushed to raise funds to save the Plaza Theatre from demolition.
MacGuire, an adopted child herself, has been a tireless advocate for children. She has served on the board of the Lee & Beulah Moor Children's Home for 58 years, since her father started it in the 1950s. The home has served 30,000 children in crisis.
She is part of a Lower Valley pioneer family. Her father, Lee Moor, was a rancher, banker and philanthropist.
Together with her husband John, MacGuire established the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa to house their collection of vintage planes in 1989.
Rick Francis, chairman and CEO of WestStar Bank and a member of the prominent Francis family in El Paso, introduced Moor highlighting her accomplishments and those of her family.
"I can't think of another family in our region that has had a greater impact," Francis said.