Presenters

Dr. Lilliana Saldaña
Associate Professor and Mexican American Studies Program Coordinator
The University of Texas at San Antonio

Lilliana Patricia Saldaña, Ph.D. is from Yanawana, occupied territory known as San Antonio, Texas, and is an Associate Professor of MAS at UTSA where she also serves as program coordinator for the program. Saldaña’s research draws from Chicana/x/o Studies methodologies, Chicana feminist thought, and decolonial studies to examine teacher identity and consciousness, epistemic struggles in education, and colonial/decolonial schooling practices.

She’s published in nationally recognized journals, including Latinos & Education, Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society, and Association of Mexican American Educators Journal. She is co-editor of Latinas and the Politics of Urban Space (2020) with Sharon Navarro and Entre el Sur y el Norte: Decolonizing education through critical readings of Chicana/x/o music (forthcoming) with Marco Cervantes, and is working on an edited volume with Christopher Carmona that documents the historic struggle for MAS in K-12 schools in Texas.

Brandon Wagner
Director of Social Practice
Form Communities

Brandon M. Wagner is Director of Social Practice at Form Communities (formerly the San Antonio Clubhouse). In addition to leading the clubhouse in San Antonio, Brandon works to develop new approaches to community mental health, with a focus on social practice. Over five years with the organization, Brandon has been key to developing an in-house multimedia unit, the hydroponic farming project Clubhouse Grows, and alternative peer support programming, among other projects. Brandon previously studied architecture and urban design at Syracuse University. In his free time, he writes creative non-fiction, often takes to the city to binge on street photography, and maintains an avid craft coffee obsession.

Kristopher Wickerham
Career Programs Leader
H-E-B

Kris grew up in the retail word, but started his first professional career in public education, where he was a teacher, curriculum coordinator, and high school principal. In 2010, he returned to his retail roots with a career change at H-E-B, where he led stores for seven years, before joining the Talent Development division as Career Programs Leader. Kris’ team overseas the development and redesign of learning plans and experiences to foster Partners’ journeys to department management and store leadership, as well as team and facility leadership in manufacturing, supply chain, and corporate/digital operations. His work at H-E-B also allows him to stay connected to his prior time in schools as a consultant to the The Holdsworth Center and its member districts, statewide regional service centers, and post-secondary partner colleges and universities. In his spare time, Kris and his fellow educator wife, Kathy, are avid hikers and self-professed “culture junkies” who travel throughout the planet in search of new trails, new adventures, and new friends.

Jeffrey Arndt
President & CEO
VIA Metropolitan Transit

Jeff Arndt has enjoyed a 42-year career in public transportation, including 25 years at Houston METRO and now ten years at VIA Metropolitan Transit. He has expertise in operations, service planning, budgeting, marketing and community outreach.

His focus is on providing equitable access to opportunity for all residents of Bexar County; and developing a first-class team at VIA. He serves on numerous boards including Visit San Antonio, SAGE, Texas Transit Association, Lifetime Recovery and the San Antonio Housing Commission. He is a member of the vaulted LSA Class 38 and in the LSA Class 46 Steering Committee.

Robert Puente
President & CEO
San Antonio Water System

Robert R. Puente, SAWS President and CEO since May 2008, is the longest-serving leader of one of the nation’s largest utilities delivering water and wastewater services to over 1.8 million consumers.

During his tenure, SAWS has achieved the highest bond rating in its history, been named a Leading Utility of the World and constructed one of the largest inland desalination plants in the nation. Under Mr. Puente’s leadership, San Antonio also has gone from being almost entirely reliant on the Edward’s Aquifer for drinking water to experiencing the greatest diversification of its water supply in city history. Those efforts include the completion of the Vista Ridge pipeline, the most ambitious public-private utility partnership in Texas history, which provides San Antonio with 50,000 acre-feet of water annually.

Prior to SAWS, Puente served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1991-2008 and was Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, where he was instrumental in crafting landmark legislation regarding water management.

Rudy D. Garza
Interim President & CEO
CPS Energy

Rudy D. Garza is the Interim President & CEO for CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally-owned electric and natural gas utility. Rudy has more than 25 years as a leader in the electric and natural gas utility industry and has served in both the public and private sectors over the course of his career. He is the first Hispanic leader to hold the position.

Rudy joined CPS Energy in 2012 and previously served as Chief Customer & Stakeholder Engagement Officer and as Senior Vice President of Distribution Service & Operations where he oversaw the maintenance and construction activity of the electric distribution system. He has also served the company in the role of Vice President of External Relations.

Rudy has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas in Austin and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Texas.

He continues to serve his community through multiple board positions and serves his UT Austin alma mater as an advisory board member for the School of Electrical Engineering.

Adam L. Hamilton, P.E.
President & CEO
Southwest Research Institute

Adam Hamilton serves as President & CEO of Southwest Research Institute, a non-for-profit that provides solutions for technical challenges encountered in environments from Deep Sea to Deep Space®, and practically everywhere in between, since 2014.

Before joining SwRI, Hamilton was the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Signature Science, LLC, based in Austin, Texas, from 2001 to 2014.

Hamilton is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He has also served as the Chair of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and will be the 2023 Campaign Chair for the United of San Antonio.

Brian Dillard
Chief Innovation Officer
City of San Antonio

Brian Dillard is currently the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of San Antonio. He began his career in public service in 2018 as the Smart City Administrator for the City of San Antonio. Prior to joining the local government sector, Brian was a Cybersecurity consultant in the private sector following a career as a member of the United States Air Force where he served ten-years Active Duty. LSA43/LSA300 Alum.

DeAnne Cuellar
Community Broadband Outreach Team Lead
Institute for Local Self-Reliance

DeAnne is a tech equity advocate and communications strategist from San Antonio, Texas. She served as Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s digital inclusion appointee to the City of San Antonio’s Innovation & Technology Committee, resulting in several policy and funding priorities to close the digital divide. As a social impact entrepreneur, she co-founded several cross-sector nonprofit initiatives, advocating for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion for historically underrepresented communities.

Marina Alderete Gavito
Executive Director
SA Digital Connects

Marina Alderete Gavito is the Executive Director of SA Digital Connects whose mission is to connect every resident in San Antonio and Bexar County to high-speed, affordable, and reliable internet. In this capacity, Marina advocates and drives the public sector, private sector and over 200+ Community organizations to activate on the issue.

Sharron Rush
Executive Director
Knowbility

Sharron Rush leads Knowbility, a nonprofit organization she founded in 1999 to meet the digital communication access needs of people with disabilities. Through advocacy, education, and awareness programs, Knowbility seeks to create an inclusive digital world for people with disabilities. Sharron co-authored Maximum Accessibility with Dr. John Slatin and has won numerous awards for her work, most recently the 2023 AARP Purpose Prize.

Katie Vela
Executive Director
South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH)

Katie Vela is the Executive Director of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH), a nonprofit organization and the Homelessness Continuum of Care (CoC) Lead Agency for San Antonio/Bexar County. SARAH works to strengthen coordination, collect and analyze data, and align funding to improve San Antonio’s homeless response system, ensuring everyone has a place to call home. Katie is Co-Chair of the Alumni Leadership Circle for UTSA’s new College of Health, Community, and Policy (HCaP) program, Co-Chair of the Trauma-Informed Care Workgroup for Homelessness and Housing, a member of the San Antonio Nonprofit Council Advocacy Committee, and served as the mayor’s appointment to Co-Chair San Antonio’s first Housing Bond Committee in 2021.

Leilah Powell
Executive Director, San Antonio Office
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

A native San Antonian, Leilah has worked in many areas of the community development sector in San Antonio—for financial institutions such as Bank of America; non-profit organizations such as the San Antonio Housing Trust and the Brackenridge Park Conservancy; as a consultant for clients including the San Antonio River Authority, Bexar County and Trinity University; and for municipal and county government, including serving as Chief of Policy for two mayors. She has also served on numerous boards, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Antonio, the San Antonio Section of the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association and her neighborhood association. She holds a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas School of Architecture and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Sarah Wamsley Estrada
Housing Policy Administrator
City of San Antonio

Sara helps design and implement strategic initiatives related to housing affordability and livability in the City of San Antonio, including the Strategic Housing Implementation Plan (SHIP). Prior to her work in San Antonio, Sara worked in Seattle, WA advocating for municipal and state-level policy changes to support affordable housing development. Sara holds a masters degree in public policy and governance from the University of Washington.

Want to help make housing affordability happen in San Antonio? Help implement the SHIP!
The Strategic Housing Implementation Plan (SHIP) is a 10-year vision for housing affordability and livability in San Antonio. Over the next decade, our community will implement this plan together. To learn more, visit here. To join in, sign up here.

 Link 1: https://www.sanantonio.gov/NHSD/Coordinated-Housing/SHIP

Link 2: https://saspeakup.com/hub/Subscriptions/2641?topicId=33848

Mark Carmona
Chief Housing Officer
City of San Antonio

Mark is currently the Chief Housing Officer for the City of San Antonio. It is a new position and oversees the implementation of the city’s plans to address affordable housing and homelessness. Under his leadership, the city will deploy a more coordinated approach to housing affordability, addressing homelessness and long-term housing solutions. Previously, he was the President & CEO at Haven for Hope of Bexar County. Haven for Hope is a nationally acknowledged Center for Excellence for people experiencing homelessness.

David Robinson Jr
Development Manager
Weston Urban

David serves as Development Manager at Weston Urban, where he is focused on multifamily development across Weston Urban’s portfolio. He joined Weston Urban from Blueprint Local, a firm investing in real estate development to promote long-term, inclusive economic growth. Prior to Blueprint Local, David led Admiral Capital Group’s efforts to make a strong social impact in the cities where the firm invests. David’s focus was to expand Admiral’s platform to making direct impact investments as well as scaling the philanthropic work.

Before Admiral Capital Group, David spent three years working for sports and education technology startups in Austin and New York. David was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Carlton Quick
Director of Operations for Tower of The Americas and Go Rio River Barges
Landry’s

Featured Non-Profits

Digital Inclusion Alliance of San Antonio

DIASA is the community dedicated to advancing digital inclusion in San Antonio.

The Digital Inclusion Alliance of San Antonio (DIASA) fosters San Antonio’s digital ecosystem by facilitating the collaboration of organizations providing digital inclusion services and promoting the democratization of digital inclusion initiatives within our community.

ENGAGE

disABILITYsa

disABILITYsa is working to educate, advance, and engage people with disabilities by building connections, exchanging information, creating opportunities, and strengthening our disability community in the greater San Antonio area. Together, we have a vision to make San Antonio the #1 community where people with disabilities want to live, learn, work, and play.

disABILITYsa serves as convener and catalyst successfully advancing policies and practices addressing needs in the disability community, and developing programs that educate, engage, and strengthen the San Antonio community in more meaningful ways as it relates to Housing, Transportation, Health, Education, Employment, and Socialization.

DONATE | ENGAGE

FORM Communities

FORM communities supports chronically mentally ill individuals in the community by providing or facilitating psychological, peer-supported, and vocational rehabilitation services; pre-vocational training, transitional employment, and supported employment; the adjustment of such individuals in the community; and support for other organizations engaged in similar work.

FORM works to support self-healing communities of care as part of an infrastructure of mental wellness across our city. Mental health happens in our communities, in the supportive relationships we have with our families, friends, and neighbors. form communities supports these real social networks with the training, tools, and experience needed to build a truly compassionate community of care in San Antonio.

DONATE

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio is an ecumenical, Christian organization working in partnership with God’s people in need to build modest, decent and affordable homes without interest or profit, thereby witnessing God’s love in action.

Habitat makes a tangible impact by providing high quality, truly affordable homeownership to low income families so they have the best opportunity to tangibly and significantly improve their situation and provide safe, stable single-family homes for themselves and their families. This also brings stability to the greater community and gives the children the best opportunity to do better educationally and break the cycle of poverty. Families work side-by-side building their homes along with hundreds of volunteers and this breaks down barriers that unnecessarily divide people and allows everyone a way to significantly be involved in addressing our community’s affordable housing crisis. 

DONATE | ENGAGE

San Antonio Office of Emergency Management

Resilience hubs are safe, accessible, and equitable facilities where residents can obtain information and resources in times of need. Resilience hubs can be located at any trusted and recognizable location including community centers, senior centers, and libraries. Resilience hubs serve communities everyday, during an emergency, and after a disaster.

Hubs can have:

  • Access to basic needs / supplies
  • Heating or cooling centers
  • Shelter from severe weather
  • Access to power & device charging
  • Community meeting location
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Resource distribution during emergencies

ENGAGE

SARAH…Alliance to House Everyone

SARAH exists to ensure everyone has a place to call home in San Antonio and Bexar County.

Having a safe home is critical to all other aspects of a healthy life. SARAH’s role is specifically to coordinate with the entire system of housing and care providers to develop sustainable strategies to address homelessness and housing. We focus on measurable improvement, collaboration, and elevating the voices of people with lived experiences of homelessness in the process.

DONATE

Sponsors

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