by Morgan Montalvo
The World Affairs Council of San Antonio has chosen former mayor Phil Hardberger its International Citizen of the Year, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Members of the educational foreign policy organization and well-wishers last evening honored Hardberger during a banquet at the Witte Museum.
Hardberger was San Antonio's mayor from 2005-2009, and during his tenure spearheaded many initiatives, including: assisting evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; helping establish the Haven For Hope homeless assistance center; expanding local green spaces; changing the city's mayoral term limits; and establishing a sister city relationship with Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
He says organizations like the local World Affairs Council of San Antonio are helping transform the Alamo City from a tourist destination to an emerging worldwide commerce center.
"We have been behind, I think, as a city in developing our international relations as apart from to our bicultural relations, reaching out to Europe, reaching out to Asia, but I do see that changing. I see that changing fairly fast," Hardberger says.
In addition to his tenure as San Antonio's chief elected official, Hardberger was a U.S. Air Force bomber pilot in the 1950s, served as a Peace Corps volunteer-turned-senior policy maker, and later became a lawyer, jurist and politician. He credits his career choices and opportunities for international travel with igniting his lifelong passion for cross-cultural cooperation and social justice in an era of expanding regional conflicts, trade wars and environmental threats.
"We need to have some sort of partner relationship," Hardberger says of international relations. "It doesn't mean we have to love each other. It would be better if we did. But it does mean we have to work together.
"We may have to work together to save ourselves," Hardberger adds.
Tim Farrell, the council's interim executive director, says Hardberger personifies the title "international citizen" in a way that relates to young and old alike.
"He's just one of those such engaging folks that are able to relate across generations," Farrell says. "They're able to tell stories that have a historical bend to them but are so contemporary today. And all the things that he's worked on, in the Peace Corps, as a judge, as our mayor, setting up the sister cities agreement with Chennai. Our young folks get that."
Hardberger says he continues to practice law, travel, and advocate for social and environmental responsibility. He has visited or worked in 60 countries.
PHOTO: Dane Miller - Dos Kiwis Studio - email@example.com Used by permission.