HOUSTON — Mr. Riaz Siddiqi of Houston has received the first Asia Society Texas Center Award for Distinguished Achievement in Business and Philanthropy. The Pakistani-American businessman was recognized for his work with organizations ranging from Grace Flight of America, which provides free air transport for medical patients in need, to the American Pakistan Foundation, an organization of the Pakistani American diaspora, focused on making a measurable difference in the lives of the people of Pakistan and to the improvement of relations between the peoples of the U.S. and Pakistan. He was presented the award Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at a banquet at the Four Seasons Hotel attended by 150 friends and well-wishers. Nicholas Platt, a former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan and President Emeritus of the Asia Society, presented the award.
â€œWhen I came to Houston last March to give a lecture on Pakistan, Riaz and I spent time together in Denhamâ€™s box at the rodeo,â€ Platt told attendees. â€œThere I learned firsthand what an extraordinary person he is, combining the best of American and Pakistani entrepreneurial skill, philanthropic sensibility, and Texan drive and ambition.â€
The evening included a video chronicling Mr. Siddiqiâ€™s life and career, from his upbringing in Pakistan to the present. Mr. Siddiqi has enjoyed a successful 30-year career in the electric utility, energy and asset management fields and is one of the founders and managing partner of Denham Capital, a global private equity firm with over $4.3 billion in assets.
In his remarks Mr. Siddiqi challenged his audience to find ways to contribute to society not only through business-building and pure philanthropy but also through social philanthropy, which strives to engineer permanent improvements in the lives of the underprivileged. He also encouraged attendees to support organizations like Asia Society Texas Center, which are working to build bridges of understanding between peoples and cultures.
Wells Fargo Bank underwrote the evening.
Among those attending were Glenn Godkin, Salma Siddiqi, Nancy C. Allen, Peter Brown, Pakistan Consul General Mohammed Aqil Nadeem, Denham CEO Stuart Porter, Anwer Hussain, Indonesian Consul General Al Busyra Basnur, Gordon Quan, Shahid and Sehar Javed, William and Angie Zartler, Jim Fonteno, Asia Society Texas Center Board Chairman Charles Foster, and ASTC Executive Director Martha Blackwelder.
Asia Society Texas Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with the mission of educating Americans about Asia and preparing Asians and Americans for a shared future. Founded in New York in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, it comprises 11 centers worldwide. The Houston center was founded in 1979 by former First Lady Barbara Bush and former Ambassador Roy M. Huffington. ASTC hosts programs across a range of interests, from business and policy to art and culture.