CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Nearly 300 Coastal Bend Community members turned out for the sixth annual Young Business Professionals of the Coastal Bend (YBP) Superhero Dinner honoring local “Wonder Woman,” Barbara Canales, the Port Commissioner of Corpus Christi, founder of Canales Exploration L.L.C. and President of the Ready or Not Foundation.
The dinner was held Oct. 26 at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center and hosted by YBP, which is an organization founded by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in partnership with the City of Corpus Christi and the Port of Corpus Christi. During the event, Canales was recognized for the many things she has accomplished in the Coastal Bend community and for her “superhero” qualities.
Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Canales graduated from W.B. Ray High School as valedictorian and earned a full academic scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. Canales received her Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering in 1989, she later received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston.
“I knew that Barbra was destined to change this community for the better when she moved back to Corpus Christi from Houston,” said Roxanne Gonzales-Cuevas, an Assistant Principal at W.B. Ray High School. “She loves Corpus Christi with all of her heart and mind.”
After receiving her Doctorate, she returned to Corpus Christi and from 1992 to 2004, Canales was a co-owner of the BNP Petroleum Corp. which is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company involved in natural gas development.
Never one to slow down, Canales created the Ready or Not Foundation which sprouted from a very difficult situation. Her siblings, Patricia Canales-Bell and Hector Canales, say the idea for the foundation started when her daughter, Jackie Black, was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“Hector and I were with Barbara the very day that Jackie was diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Patricia. “I met her in front of the McDonald’s at Driscoll Children’s Hospital and Barbara collapsed in my arms. She was terrified and scared, we cried, we were hopelessly inconsolable, and it lasted for about 24 hours.”
Instead of continuing to cry, Barbara used her superhero qualities and fought. “She fought, not only for her daughter but for all children, their families and everyone who’s collapsed in front of McDonald’s at Driscoll Children’s Hospital,” her siblings explained.
“After suffering from so much, I still have a lot of late-term effects,” shared Jackie Black. “They’re very gruesome and sorrowful for me, but she’s always there for me. So, my mom’s best superhero skill is probably her love. She’s my shoulder to cry on and goes through everything with me.”
Canales’ boundless energy and the ability to communicate with people are two of her most crucial superhero qualities, according to her sister. While her ability to get back up after falling down is what her brother says makes her a superhero.
“Who wouldn’t want to have the title of any superhero? From the time that we are kids, we all wish that we could have a superhero power so that we can do something good,” shared Canales. “I want to give back to the community because I want the young business professionals to love Corpus Christi as much as I do.”
The night ended with a Q&A session and the presentation of a customized action figure made in Canales’ image. The YBP hosts this yearly celebration of a superhero in our community to raise money for the Young Business Professionals Young Leader Endowment. Event proceeds were more than $10,000.
“The Superhero Dinner is an opportunity for YBP to honor those individuals that make a real difference in our community. Barbara Canales and our previous honorees are the types of individuals that roll-up their sleeves and get their hands dirty,” said Russell Wagner, Executive Director of YBP and Director of Engagement for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “They are the folks that often go unnoticed, but are a vital part of our Coastal Bend community.”
YBP is a local organization committed to improving the city and workforce by promoting educational and professional advancement among emerging business leaders. For more information on YBP, go to ybpcb.com.