More than 50 speakers will gather Friday at historic St. Paul Square for the second annual San Antonio CityFest. Eleven panels will cover topics such as the relationship between city governments and the state Legislature, gun violence, and philanthropy in San Antonio.
The urban visioning and public policy festival, which is presented by the Rivard Report, is designed to generate discourse and civic engagement on topics crucial to San Antonio’s future. Here is a look at some of the panel discussion topics:
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 statistics showed that the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan statistical area is the nation’s poorest among the top 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the country. The portion of San Antonio children living in poverty also rose by 3 percent. Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff will join panelists from the San Antonio Food Bank, Trinity University, LiftFund, and the Asset Funders Network to talk about how San Antonio can address rising poverty rates effectively.
Bipartisanship in the Age of Toxic Politics
Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus will join former Congressional candidate Joseph Kopser and State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) on a panel that will explore whether bipartisanship is possible during an era of toxic politics. Straus, a Republican, decided against running for reelection in 2017, ending his 13-year run at the Texas Legislature. He was known as a moderate leader, holding back the controversial bathroom bill in 2016. Kopser recently launched a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that seeks to unite a polarized Texas electorate. Straus, Kopser, and Menéndez will discuss today’s polarized political climate and how that impacts bipartisan action.
San Antonio’s Mobility Future
With local traffic growing worse despite more highway expansions on the drawing board, an afternoon panel will focus on what San Antonio’s path forward should look like. Leah Shahum, founder of an organization that aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and increase safe mobility, is one of five panelists who will discuss different aspects of planning for the city’s mobility future. Representatives from the City of San Antonio’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department, VIA Metropolitan Transit, Smart Growth America, and the National Resources Defense Council will join Shahum.
Here is the full CityFest panel schedule:
9 a.m. What Science Tells Us: Climate Change in Texas: Panelists Gerald Mulvey, meteorology professor at the University of the Incarnate Word; Kerry Cook, professor of geological sciences at the University of Texas at Austin; and John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist with Texas A&M University.
10:15 a.m.: Mass Shootings: How Do We Make Ourselves Safe?: Panelists Chief William McManus, San Antonio Police Department; Jordan Ghawi, director of strategic initiatives at STRAC; Lillian Liao, critical care physician with UT Health San Antonio; and Julie Workman and Kris Workman, Sutherland Springs survivors.
10:15 a.m. Early Matters in Texas and Beyond: Panelists Munro Richardson, executive director of Read Charlotte; Mark Williams, Austin Community College board member and trustee for Early Matters Austin; Peter J. Holt, CEO/general manager of HOLT CAT; Sarah Baray, CEO of PreK4SA; and Bob Popinski, director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas.
11:30 a.m. Techtonics: Meeting Problems with Solutions: Panelists Brian Dillard, City of San Antonio Chief Innovation Officer; Jordana Barton, senior advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and SA2020 board member; Michael Girdley, managing director of Geekdom Fund; Charles Woodin, CEO of Geekdom; and Luis Martinez, director of Trinity University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
11:30 a.m. Cities vs. State: Managing in Texas after the 2019 Texas legislative session: Panelists San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh; Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax; and Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk.
1:45 p.m. Power of Philanthropy to Change San Antonio: Panelists Harvey Najim, founder of The Najim Charitable Foundation; Alexandra Frey, executive director of the 80|20 Foundation; Marjie French, CEO of the San Antonio Area Foundation; and Kate Rogers, director of the Charles Butt Foundation.
1:45 p.m. Smart Data: Public Access in a Digital World: Panelists Golareh Agha, chief of informatics at San Antonio Metropolitan Health District; Emily Royall, Smart City Coordinator for the City of San Antonio; Alberto Gomez, co-founder and COO of CityFlag and Guest Scholar at the Urban Future Lab (UFL) at UTSA; and Laura McKieran, director of Community Information Now.
3 p.m. Bipartisanship in the Age of Toxic Politics: Panelists Joseph Kopser, cofounder of US Tomorrow; Joe Straus, former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives; and State Sen. José Menéndez.
3 p.m. San Antonio’s Mobility Future: Panelists Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America; Jeff Arndt, CEO of VIA Metropolitan Transit; Art Reinhardt, interim deputy director of City of San Antonio Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI); Leah Shahum, founder of Vision Zero; and John Bailey, climate advisor for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
4:15 p.m. Tobin Center Celebrates Fifth Anniversary: Panelists Michael Fresher, president/CEO of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts; Evin Eubanks, executive director of Ballet San Antonio; Kathleen Weir Vale, board chair of the San Antonio Symphony; and Veronica Lopez, artistic administrator of Opera San Antonio.
4:15 p.m. Attacking Poverty: Panelists San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg; Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff; Christine Drennon, Director of Urban Studies at Trinity University; Eric Cooper, president and CEO of San Antonio Food Bank; Janie Barrera, president and CEO of LiftFund; and Frances Gonzalez, San Antonio Area Program Officer, Asset Funders Network.
5:15 p.m. Closing Happy Hour: Introduction by David Heard, CEO of Tech Bloc. Conversation with Lorenzo Gomez III, author of Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear, and Jeff Price, principal of Tafolla Middle School.