Meet SABJ's 2022 Lifetime Achievement honorees for their philanthropy – San Antonio Business Journal – The Business Journals

The San Antonio Business Journal honors three local CEOs with Lifetime Achievement Awards for having made real impacts on the Alamo City with their philanthropic work.
The honorees — Russ Bookbinder, Mike Gilliam and Harvey Najim — were among 20 other companies and business leaders recognized by the Business Journals for their charitable efforts during a Nov. 17 Nonprofit & Corporate Philanthropy awards luncheon at Morgan’s Wonderland.
Two of our honorees plan to retire in December, while the third stepped down last year.
Russ Bookbinder has led San Antonio Sports since 2013. Under his leadership, the “I play afterschool” program impacts third- to fifth-grade students at more than 58 schools in the San Antonio region. Besides teaching the fundamentals of sports, Bookbinder said the program “provides team building, work ethic, all the life lessons that sports bring.” He said children who participate in the program have shown improvements in their math and reading scores. “We’ve seen chronic absenteeism drop. It’s been a great program. It’s rewarding.”
Bookbinder previously worked at Spurs Sports & Entertainment before joining San Antonio Sports, where he successfully led the nonprofit to host national championship events for USA Swimming & Diving, USA Track & Field, the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four and the 2021 Women’s Final Four. He also worked to secure the 2025 Men’s NCAA Final Four games. He also led efforts to certify and launch the Alamo Bowl and secured the deal for the city to host the 1996 NBA All-Star Game.
Click to listen to Texas Business Mind podcast with the three Lifetime Achievement Award honorees.
Mike Gilliam retired from the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind and Vision Impaired last year after serving as president and CEO for 14 years. His goal now is to help other nonprofits in the Alamo City. He serves on the Masters Leadership Program of San Antonio, The Nonprofit Council, the Rotary Club and The Area Foundation. He is working to help develop board members for nonprofits and mentor nonprofit CEOs. “Trying to assist them and make their life easier,” Gilliam said.
Under his leadership at SALBVI, the nonprofit provided more than 23,000 services in 2020 to those in need. The blind and vision-impaired community has access to a low-vision clinic, education and training, career support and children and youth programs as well as ones for adults and senior citizens.
Our third honoree is philanthropist Harvey Najim. Najim made his fortune at Sirius Computer Solutions Inc., a company he founded and where he now serves as chairman emeritus. He sold the IT company in 2021 for $2.5 billion.
In 2006, he donated $125 million to start the Harvey E. Najim Charitable Foundation. It supports various public charities that provide children in the San Antonio area with food, shelter, clothing, education and medical needs. Najim’s foundation has given away approximately $171 million in grants and pledges. He has pledged another $250 million to the foundation over the next 10 to 15 years.
He offers this advice to nonprofits looking for funding to cover program and operation costs: “We want to know how many children will you be serving and what are the metrics. What is the outcome going to be at the end of this program?”
Najim said he is not retiring; he calls it a transition. He will still be the chairman of the foundation and run the meetings.
He has set up a classroom-to-career center at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “They work with real companies on real projects in business innovation,” he said. “I’ve told UTSA that I’ll spend two to three days a week there.”
All three men plan to travel, Najim said he also plans to write a book.
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