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Hundreds of City staff, business and city leaders, artists, and friends honored former City Manager Sheryl Sculley Tuesday night during a reception hosted by various San Antonio chambers of commerce.
“Her work propelled San Antonio to be one of the best-managed cities in the United States,” said former Mayor Phil Hardberger, who hired Sculley as city manager to overhaul the City bureaucracy. She found money “under the mattress” for San Antonio, he quipped.
Sculley retired at the end of February after 13 years as city manager. She is widely credited with professionalizing the municipal corporation and steering the City away from inefficiency and corruption.
“Character is revealed during times of adversity,”said Mayor Ron Nirenberg during the event, which was free and open to the public. “We have all seen [Sculley as] someone who has not just character, but also grace and courage under fire.”
Along one wall of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts’ H-E-B Performance Hall – which was filled with the sounds of the bustling cocktail party Tuesday night – were 12 Fiesta sashes and one vest with corresponding medals representing each year of her career in San Antonio. The collections will be auctioned off to benefit the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, a high-performing, all-female public high school.
The auction closes at 11 p.m. on Sunday, March 31, and Sculley will personally match bid donations up to a total of $10,000 to support funding for the students’ college educations. Click here to find out more.
Sculley had her detractors; some said her power undermined that of City Council members and the mayor. Others criticized her salary, as evidenced in the recent ballot proposition that capped the salary and tenure of future city managers.
“Professional city management matters,” Sculley told the crowd to applause. ” … [The council-manager form] is working well for San Antonio, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
A recent report concluded that her $475,000 salary was within the market range. Erik Walsh, who was Sculley’s deputy city manager, took her place at the helm of the City on March 1.
All that seemed miles away as Sculley listened to speakers who recalled the good times and anecdotes that marked her tenure. She has said she plans to remain in downtown San Antonio and write a book about being the City’s CEO. She has been offered some positions, she has said, but is still considering opportunities.
“Even though she’s done with the City, she’s not done,” CPS Energy Paula Gold-Williams said.
Sculley received a recognition of lifetime achievement from the International City/County Management Association and a decorative plate from “the skirt mafia,” a “secret” organization in San Antonio, said Jane Macon, a prominent local attorney. San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Perez presented Sculley with a piece of the Alamo’s door.
“Madeleine Albright once said there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” Sculley said before bringing students from YWLA on stage. “I don’t claim to be among them.”
So far, Sculley’s fundraising efforts for YWLA have raised $38,000.
“Let’s keep good things going for San Antonio,” Sculley said to a standing ovation.