The Pan American Association of Philadelphia traces its roots to 1940 when a handful of individuals saw a need for a greater awareness of the importance of relationships among the nations of the Western Hemisphere, and decided to form an organization dedicated to that purpose. These individuals included two professors from the University of Pennsylvania: Dr. Arthur Whitaker, a leading Latin American expert who wrote more than a dozen books on the subject, and Dr. George Allen Mason, for many years head of the University’s world-renowned Anthropology Department; two physicians: Chevalier Jackson and Jorge Perez; three local business leaders: Alejandro Reyes, Luis Hoyos and William J. Clothier III; and Lieutenant Commander Thomas O’Bryan. The articles of incorporation state a very specific mission:

“To promote cultural, educational and economic activities designed to increase understanding and cooperation among the peoples of the Americas.”

Since its founding, the need for supporting the mission of The Pan American Association of Philadelphia has grown exponentially. The vision of these founders has blossomed over the years into a dynamic organization comprised of local and international political figures, industrialists, professionals, academics, students, and many other people of varied backgrounds, all interested in advancing the concept of “Panamericanismo”: that special relationship which exists among the countries and peoples of the Americas. NAFTA, CAFTA and other bi-lateral treaties are forging strong commercial bonds among the countries of the Western Hemisphere. Large and persistent waves of immigration are creating important social and economic issues between the United States and all of the countries of Latin America. Recent concerns about Homeland Defense in the US overshadow all of these issues. Today, to a large extent, the population of the Philadelphia area reflects the composition of the Western Hemisphere. Under these circumstances, the need for commercial and cultural understanding expressed by the founders of the Association has become ever more clear. The Pan American Association of Philadelphia, through its many members, friends, and affilliates, is dedicated to fostering and promoting Pan Americanism in the Delaware Valley region.

As an all-volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit organization, The Pan American Association has accomplished a great deal in the last six decades. In the early years of the Association, it was the single most influential voice of Latin American culture in Philadelphia. Through the years that have followed, it has maintained a unique status as an organization that unites peoples from many countries. So much so that we maintain that the Pan American Association has become a true bridge between all of the people of the Western hemisphere living in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Wherever Panamericanismo can be championed, the Pan American Association of Philadelphia provides vital support and influence. Whether in the classroom, the theater, the lecture circuit, at a memorial service for a fallen comrade, or in any social gathering celebrating our common heritage as nations of the New World, members of the Association carry the message with pride and enthusiasm.     

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