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Charles Duncan Recipient of Partnership's 2022 McNair Civic Leadership Award

Published Jan 28, 2022 by A.J. Mistretta

charles duncan

From left, Charles Duncan, Anne Duncan and Bob Harvey

HOUSTON (January 28, 2022) –The Greater Houston Partnership presented the 2022 Robert C. McNair Civic Leadership Award to entrepreneur and statesman Charles W. Duncan Jr. at its Annual Meeting on Friday. 

Duncan is recognized for his many contributions in business, government and philanthropy. After an early career as petroleum engineer with Humble Oil, he joined the family business, Duncan Foods Company, in 1947 and eventually became the president of the business. He would later lead Duncan Foods through a merger with The Coca-Cola Company where he joined the board and eventually became President of the beverage giant. 

President Jimmy Carter appointed Duncan Deputy Defense Secretary in 1977 and later Secretary of Energy from 1979 until 1981. His strong managerial and negotiation skills served him well in his work at home and abroad throughout the administration. Several prominent leaders consider Duncan a mentor, including the late General Colin Powell. 

Duncan was one of the founders of the Greater Houston Partnership alongside two other local visionaries, Bob Onstead and Ben Love. The aspirations of the three leaders more than 30 years ago set forth a bold vision to harness Houston’s business leadership to foster growth and opportunity — ensuring this region is one of the best places in the world to live, work and build a business. 

“Charles exemplifies the power civic engagement has within our community,” said Jodi Jiles, Director of Business Development at Transwestern and Partnership board member and former Chair who presented the award to Duncan. Jiles added that Duncan “serves as an enduring model for the business and community leaders of today and for generations to come.”

“When I look back on the more than three decades since Bob Onstead, Ben Love and I founded the Greater Houston Partnership, it is incredible to see the lasting impact it has had on our city,” Duncan said in accepting the award. “Houston has become truly one of the great cities of the world. I am proud to see the Partnership mission carried out and to know the impact that will endure for years to come. I want the thank the thousands of business leaders and member companies that have supported the membership.” 

Though Duncan, his wife Anne and their two children have spent many years outside of Houston, Houston has always been home. The couple has remained committed to the prosperity and growth of Houston throughout their lives. In 2007, just after celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, the Duncans made a $30 million gift to Rice University, Charles’ alma mater. In addition to this transformational gift to the university, Duncan has dedicated countless hours serving on the board of trustees, including 14 years as Chairman, helping shape the vision for Rice.

Today, Duncan serves as Chairman of Duncan Capital Management alongside his son, Charles W. Duncan III and is actively engaged in many civic, charitable and corporate organizations.

Established in 2020, the McNair Award is presented by the Greater Houston Partnership annually to a business leader who has made an outsized impact on our community — through civic and philanthropic leadership – honoring the lifelong legacy imparted by the award’s namesake, Bob McNair. 


Greater Houston Partnership 
The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. As the economic development organization for the region, the Partnership champions growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing more than 900 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place companies come together to make an impact. Learn more at


Brina Morales                                                
Senior Manager, Media Relations        
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A.J. Mistretta
Vice President, Communications
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