Scott Ball / Rivard Report
The Alamo Colleges board of trustees elected new officers, including a new chair, as they continue to grow the efficiency and effectiveness the district has seen over the past few years.
District 7 Trustee Yvonne Katz was named board chair. Marcelo Casillas (D4) was named vice chair. Gene Sprague (D6) was elected secretary and Denver McClendon (D2) was elected assistant secretary. All officer terms are two years.
Katz will replace District 3 Trustee Anna U. Bustamante, the first Hispanic board chair in the district’s history. Bustamante, McClendon, Casillas, and Joe Alderete, Jr. (D1) were recently re-elected to serve on the board until May 2022.
“We look forward to the excellent leadership Dr. Katz will provide to the board and the Alamo Colleges,” said Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie. “We also are thankful to Ms. Bustamante for her excellent service as board chair.”
Under the leadership of Leslie and the board, Alamo Colleges has come back from scandal and corruption charges in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The college has improved graduation rates and fiscal management, earning the Texas Award for Performance Excellence this year. Fiscal year 2015 saw a record high 9,700 degrees and certificates awarded, a 36% increase over the previous year, and the second highest number achieved by any community college in Texas.
The district also has strengthened its focus on career alignment, and cooperation with K-12 pipelines. Board member Roberto Zárate was elected chair of the Association of Community College Trustees, and committed to use that position to strengthen community colleges’ roles as the pathways to the middle class.
“The dedication and hard work of our board of trustees has led the Alamo Colleges to a position of leadership on the local, state and national levels,” Leslie said.
Katz’s appointment as chair will last through the end of her six-year term, which began in 2012. She served 39 years in public education, nearly 20 of which were as superintendent of Harlandale Independent School District. She was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1984 and was honored with the Outstanding Educator Award from Texas A&M University-College Station in 2003.
In 1991, she was selected by the Texas Association of School Boards as one of the top five superintendents in the state. Katz is currently a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and continues to serve children, students, and families in San Antonio through board leadership. She is an alumna of University of Texas at Austin, and earned her doctorate at Texas A&M University-College Station.
Casillas returned to the board in 2015, following a short retirement after serving from 2002-2014. The self-employed businessman and owner of Casillas Insurance Agency is a life-long resident of San Antonio and of District 4. Casillas served as president, vice-president, and secretary of the South San board during his eight year tenure from 1990-98.
Sprague was first elected to the Alamo Colleges board in May 1994 and most recently re-elected to a six-year term in May 2012. He is a radiology and pharmacology professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), where he earned his Ph.D. He is a well-respected name in his field, with many awards and scientific publications.
McClendon was named to the District 2 seat by the ACCD Board in July 2003, elected to serve a full term in May 2004 and re-elected in every subsequent election.
He retired as a Lt. Col. from the U.S. Air Force after 26 years of active service. Following his retirement, he built McClendon Properties, a company that acquires and manages residential real estate. He is also the operations manager for the Community Crime Prevention Network, Inc., a training resource for public housing executives. McClendon is vice chairman of Workforce Solutions Alamo.
Top image: Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie describes the importance of Alamo Colleges’ Westside Education and Training Center. Photo by Scott Ball.