Tony Chase

Barack Obama's friend is getting things done in H-Town with strong business moves and Harvard pluck

Barack Obama's friend is getting things done in H-Town with strong business moves and Harvard pluck

Shelby, The Influentials, Tony Chase, March 2013
Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com

Little more than two weeks ago, Tony Chase was on the golf course in Florida with his close friend President Barack Obama, Tiger Woods and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Today, he's back at his desk as chairman and CEO of ChaseSource, L.P., which provides staffing, recruiting and facilities management services to large companies and government entities. It is a company he formed after selling his ChaseCom to AT&T in 2007. Sweet.

Beyond his business acumen (he served as deputy chairman and director of the Dallas Federal Reserve), Chase is a force on many levels in H-Town. An honors graduate from Harvard, with both a law degree and an MBA from the Ivy League school, he just completed his term as head of the Greater Houston Partnership and serves as a director of the Texas Medical Center. He is a tenured professor at the University of Houston Law Center and is a director on a number of private company boards and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Chase and his wife, Dina Alsowayel, hosted a successful fundraiser for Obama in their River Oaks home prior to his re-election last fall.

What is your chief characteristic?

Optimism.

The best advice you ever received?

Play it how it lies. Wisdom from my dad. 

Your idea of happiness?

My idea of happiness is time with my wife and kids. With my idea of happiness too, other things come to mind, I mean, I walk my 9-year-old son to school every morning. That makes me happy. No matter — rain or snow. No matter what, we walk. It's our thing.

Who are your real life heroes?

What immediately comes to mind are teachers, K through 12. My dad, who has passed away. My mom. Those are my real life heroes.

You idea of misery?

Going to the dentist.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I think it might surprise people that — either one of a few things — that I'm an Eagle Scout and that I held the record for most goals scored in a season at Harvard in lacrosse. How many? It was 34.

What's it like to play golf with the President?

It's fun. It's wonderful being the President's partner, as I was, because everyone gives him putts. I will say it's a little hard to line up your putt when there're so many guns around. You go into the rough, you go back in the woods, and some guy says, "There it is." It's a little odd. It's a blast really.

What inspires you about Houston?

It's not just a place. It's a spirit. It's a way of being . . . It's really about a spirit and a way of life — entrepreneurship,  individualism and generosity, all of that wrapped up into one. No one is just sort of passing through. People are here because they want to be here. It's a great place, the best kept secret in the world.

What does it mean to be a true Houstonian?

It's not about where you were born, it's about who you are and your outlook on life and your belief in principles and the way you live life, your commitment to family, to community and to the civil society, the things that make Houston a great city. When I think of those who are the true, true Houstonians, to me they're Charles Duncan and Bill Lawson.

Who would you like to have dinner with, dead or alive?

Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson.