Distinctive Honor: Harold Matzer

Photos courtesy of Horatio Alger Association

Yet another BIGHORN Member who has overcome significant challenges to achieve professional and personal success has  recently been honored with the Horatio Alger award. In the Spring of 2017, Harold Matzner flew to Washington, D.C., to attend the 70th Annual Horatio Alger Awards as one of its newest Members.

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished  Americans, Inc. is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated  to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty, and determination can conquer all obstacles. The association  honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have  accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity.

While growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Matzner, his younger brother, and his parents lived with his grandfather, a Hebrew teacher and cantor in a synagogue. Although Matzner’s parents’ values and integrity provided a good influence and a strong  foundation for his solid character, academics proved to be  challenging.

“School was tough because I was dyslexic. In those days they had no idea what that was; they didn’t know how to deal with it,” Matzner says. Even then, he says, opportunities were limited without a college degree. “I knew it was important. But I also knew I would have a very tough struggle. The tools weren’t  there. Nobody was there to help, and it was almost impossible  to overcome that on your own.”

Matzner’s entrepreneurial spirit took hold even as a young boy –  and it never stopped. Today, this founding Chairman of CBA  Industries Inc., a NY/NJ-based branding, advertising, and  marketing company, is known throughout the valley for his  generosity and his unceasing vision for the area’s vitality.

Matzner has contributed more than $60 million to area non-profits since 1997. As owner of Palm Springs’ popular Spencer’s Restaurant, he distributes profits to local charities. He has long served as Chairman of the McCallum Theatre and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and as executive vice chair of Palm Springs Art Museum. Matzner chairs several fundraising  events each year and serves on the Board of Trustees of the  Eisenhower Medical Center and Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center. His impact has rippled out to every corner of the Coachella Valley in shaping our culture and securing  its vibrancy.

“Becoming a member of the Horatio Alger Association makes me very proud. I am thrilled to join in an association that’s committed to helping the youth of America, who are the future of America,” he says.

As part of the association’s programming, Horatio Alger Members serve as role models and mentors. They actively support promising young people by providing them with the resources and encouragement to follow their dreams. Since the establishment of the association’s scholarship program in 1984, more than 25,000 deserving, at-risk young students have experienced the hard-earned, life-changing opportunity to pursue a college education.

“It’s important to keep learning throughout our life,” says Matzner. “I think we all learn from our most challenging  moments. They help us learn how to find solutions – which is what business is all about and, to a large degree, what life is all about.”

During the three-day event last spring, Matzner was among 11 exceptional business, civic, and philanthropic leaders presented with the Horatio Alger Award by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court.

The elite group of individuals known for their strong work ethic represents the organization’s core values: perseverance, integrity, and a commitment to excellence. Matzner joined John Elway, former quarterback and now general manager of the Denver Broncos; Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice,  president and dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine; and Byron Pitts, ABC News chief national correspondent and Nightline co-anchor, among others in being honored with lifetime membership into the association. Matzner is the sixth BIGHORN Member to receive this distinction.

Tony Novelly, chairman of the Horatio Alger Association, looks forward each year to recognizing the outstanding  accomplishments of the new Members and National  Scholars. “Their stories of personal strength and resilience serve as important reminders that the American Dream is still thriving in the United States today,” he says. “Their  successes are inspiring.”

For Matzner, the award prompted him to reflect back to those childhood years of difficulty in school. “My life has  turned out very, very well,” he says. “If you have the strength  and courage, you can make almost anything happen.”

Horatio Alger Class of 2017: Back row: John H. Scully, John Elway,  Roger S. Penske, Harold Matzner, Lenard B. Tessler, Alain Bouchard. Front row: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,  Byron Pitts, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, Marcia G. Taylor, Richard J. Stephenson, Mellody Hobson.

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