Many Thank-Yous for the Opportunity of a Lifetime

First, I’d like to thank David Gans and his wife, Tracey, for the amazing job they’ve done during David’s tenure as IAPMO president. David had to step up and do more than the role typically bestowed upon the vice president, and I want to commend him on five years of leadership while answering the call on behalf of our association.

I thank staff for helping reach this point of my wonderful IAPMO journey; I appreciate everything you do for me and continue to offer me as I move into this new role.

I want to recognize Phil Ribbs, Sarah Aguilar, Dave Mann, and Martin Salburg, asking me to be on the technical committee, and for introducing me to this amazing organization; if it wasn’t for you all, I wouldn’t be here.

My Local 38 … if you didn’t take this snot-nosed kid into your local when he was 20 years old, trying to think he knew everything, I wouldn’t be here now. This is one thing I’ll never forget and that you made sure happened, so I’m forever indebted.

My mother Maria passed away at the age of 45. I was 21 years old. She got sick when I was 16 and she fought for five years. During those five years, she made sure that I got a job; she pushed and pulled to make sure that I got pointed in the right direction and because of her I know I got where I’m at. Without her guidance, there’s no way I’d have found my way to these opportunities in my life.

My father, Richard Panelli, and stepmother, Debbie; my uncle Robert Panelli; my sister, Gina Cano, and brother-in-law, Ricky; and my brother, Jason Lappano, and his wife Celia. Thank you all for making the trip to San Antonio to be present at my installation. Without your support, dealing with me being stressed out all the time, this could never have happened.

As some of you know, my son, Steven, was married last year and he also attended with his lovely wife, Megan; and my daughter, Daniela, was there, as well. One of the greatest days of my life was becoming a parent and I got to do that twice. I am a lucky man. My children have supported me throughout my journey. I love them very much and am very proud of all their accomplishments.

I’m not leaving out the most important person and that’s my beautiful wife, Lorena. You know what she has to deal with living with me! Without her support and all the things, she does to help me, there’s no way I could have accomplished anything like this. She’s the one who calms me down and makes everything work out.

I want to acknowledge DJ Nunez, who was one of the first IAPMO people I met when I joined the Board of Directors and no idea how any of it worked. From that day forward, he’s always stood behind me and given me good guidance. I know I will continue to lean on that support throughout my term and beyond.

Lastly, the reason I am still on this Board is Danny Nunez, DJ’s father. The first year I started, there was an issue and I was done; I didn’t want to have anything to do with anybody or anything. I was stressed out and going through a lot of things personally. Danny saw me walking down the hall and asked me what was wrong. I said, “Nothing.” He said, “Come and sit down.” Now, if you know Danny he’s got these big paws and when he grabs you by the shoulder, he sits you down. He rubbed my shoulders and said, “Hey, everything’s going to be alright.” I expressed my doubts. He said, “Everything’s going to be OK. I have faith in you and you’re going to do a great job. And one day, you’re going to be up there thanking everybody.” Danny, you were right and thank you for giving me that little boost when I truly needed it.

IAPMO, the UA, the union — what a brotherhood! One that always takes care of you. Now, it’s my opportunity to take care of you all, my brothers and sisters. I love you all dearly, I’ll stand up for you no matter what, and I’m always going to be here for you. If there’s ever a problem or you need anything, please reach out.

Thank you for entrusting me with this immense responsibility. I don’t accept it lightly and I deeply appreciate the opportunity to guide this incredible association as it approaches the doorstep of its 100th anniversary. I will not let you down.