Chamber of Commerce announces Matt Lewis as San Angelo's Citizen of the Year

Alana Edgin
San Angelo Standard-Times
Matt Lewis speaks to the audience at the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce awards banquet after accepting the citizen of the year award Thursday, March 4, 2021.

SAN ANGELO — Matt Lewis was announced as San Angelo's Citizen of the Year on Thursday night.

The announcement came about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, 2021, during the Chamber of Commerce's 105th Annual Banquet at the First Financial Pavilion, 4400 Grape Creek Road.

Matt Lewis is the CEO and president of the San Angelo Area Foundation. In 2020, Lewis wrote about the foundation's milestone, where they gave $100 million in grants for 2019.

People gather for the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce 105th Annual Banquet, where the Citizen of the Year would be announced on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

"A man who keeps confidentiality close to his vest, and is intentional with his communication, Mr. Lewis’s impact can be seen and felt across San Angelo and the Concho Valley," a Chamber of Commerce release stated. "With the priorities of God, his family, and his work, his contributions and leadership over the past 19 years are immeasurable. Congratulations to Mr. Matt Lewis, the 2020 Citizen of the Year!"

Lewis was born in the Dallas area before his parents moved the family to Brownwood when he was 5 years old. Coming from a musical family, he grew up singing in church, according to the release.

"A step stool was used in his early years so he could reach the pulpit and stand alongside his siblings," the release stated.

His first time on stage was in a performance of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," where he played Amahl and found his love for theater.

He attended Brownwood High School and graduated in 1980. He then went to Howard Payne University, where he focused on art and music, with a minor in accounting. Lewis and his wife, Charlotte, were married in 1995. They have four children and moved to San Angelo in December 1997.

In 1982, Lewis started working as a meter reader and eventually made his way into management with TXU Energy until 2002, according to the release. The year he left, the newly formed San Angelo Area Foundation searched for its next president and CEO.

His love for San Angelo and a good interview earned him the position.

As of 2020, more than 7,000 donors have contributed more than $200 million since its creation. This has led to over 330 funds. More than $100 million has gone to grants, and the foundation has over $150 million in assets, helping a wide array of causes in San Angelo and the area.

Funds have been raised and gone toward the Stephens Central Library and the San Angelo Performing Arts Center with $1 million for each. Lewis also helped the San Angelo Performing Arts Center acquire the 44,000-square-foot former Coca-Cola bottling plant.

The Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee of previous Citizen of the Year recipients. Qualities of the recipients include an individual or group who has significantly contributed to the quality of life in the community and have been involved in "quality and effective volunteer work," according to the release. These recipients should also show leadership and passionately pursue the best for the community.

Matt Lewis has been announced San Angelo's Citizen of the Year on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

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Here's a look at previous San Angelo Citizens of the Year

In the 105 years of the banquet, there have been many Citizens of the Year. Here's a look at some of the most recent:

In 2020's banquet, the chamber announced Lynn Shipley, unit director of the original H-E-B, as the 2019 Citizen of the Year. He has often been seen helping others and working alongside volunteers, including helping clean up after tornadoes tore through San Angelo in 2019.

Ronnie and Maria Hawkins were honored as the 2018 Citizens of the Year for their philanthropy and missionary work through the nonprofit organization they founded, Ezra Visions Ministries, which helped Haitians displaced by the deadly 2010 earthquake. In 2020, Ronnie Hawkins became the president of Angelo State University.

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Rick "Jay Michaels" Mantooth was the 2017 Citizen of the Year for his years spent improving the community. He is the vice president and general manager of Foster Communications and was known as the voice of Central High School Bobcat Football.

Elta Joyce Murphey McAfee earned the honor for 2016 and has left her mark in the arts of San Angelo. Murphey McAfee became a founding member of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and contributed $3 million toward the restoration of the city auditorium. That auditorium has since been renamed in her honor as the Elta Joyce Murphey Performance Hall.

Alana Edgin is a journalist covering Crime and Courts in West Texas. Send her a news tip at aedgin@gannett.com