Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report
Everyone at the Rivard Report shares this commitment: We want to be the leading media platform that connects and engages the people of San Antonio with lively, trusted news and commentary. We want to help build a better informed, better educated and more prosperous community, a San Antonio that our children and talented people from elsewhere see as a great place to live, work and play.
We can't do it alone. We need substantial public support and we need a strong, tested, committed board of directors. That's why, as we celebrate our fourth anniversary this Saturday, Feb. 13, we have become a nonprofit. And that's why we are proud to introduce the community leaders who have agreed to help us achieve our mission.
Our Officers - Richard T. Schlosberg III
Richard T. Schlosberg III, chairman of the recently established Rivard Report Board of Directors, has led a life that resists easy summary. He's a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy who flew more than 200 combat support missions in Vietnam and, years later, was a founding director of the academy's endowment. A plinth and bronze plaque bearing his name and countenance stands on the campus Mall of Heroes.
To journalists of my generation, Schlosberg was the last great publisher of the Los Angeles Times in the 1990s, which followed stints as publisher of the Denver Post and leadership positions with San Antonio-based Harte-Hanks Communications.
In his subsequent nonprofit career in the Silicon Valley, he served as president and CEO of the Packard Foundation, one of the nation's largest charitable foundations, and later as chairman of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Read Kaiser Health News if you want to connect with an online news organization that is truly excellent and serves as one of several role models for our team.) He has served on the boards of eBay, Edison International, and the Smithsonian. I could go on.
I'd rather tell the story of how Dick, as he is known to friends and colleagues, and I first met at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 1978. He was a few years removed from military service and Harvard Business School, and was the newspaper's young general manager, working under legendary publisher Ed Harte Jr. I was a long-haired rookie reporter up from Brownsville who had somehow convinced Robert Rhodes, the executive editor, and Harte to let me travel to Mexico to cover the historic visit of newly-elected Pope John Paul II.
Rhodes had told me the newspaper didn't send reporters farther than the Rio Grande Valley or Austin. Seeking to bolster my case, I proposed riding second-class buses through Mexico, living off a modest cash advance, following the pope and filing daily stories to our readers, many of them Catholic, by Telex. Finally worn down by my frequent office visits, Harte and Rhodes acquiesced and sent me to the general manager's office to discuss finances.
It was immediately evident that Schlosberg, dressed in a business suit and still sporting a military haircut, was less than enthusiastic about entrusting company money to a 25-year-old kid heading south of the border on a bus. We ended up having a good conversation and to his credit, Dick decided to take a risk and make it happen. He did inform me with the air of a military officer comfortable issuing orders that my second-class bus idea was ridiculous and that I'd be traveling on company business by air. I walked out of the office with $500, more cash than I had ever held, and a corporate credit card for emergencies. I'll never forget that moment in 1978: Dick gave me my first credit card and I made the most of it, leaving on a journey that would eventually stretch to a reporting career in Latin America and around the world for Newsweek magazine.
Dick and his wife Kathy eventually moved back to Texas and San Antonio in 2004 after their years in California. San Antonio is where their two grown children had settled, and it was the city where Dick and Kathy raised them when Dick served as president of Harte-Hanks newspaper operations before he left for Denver and then LA. Over the last decade, Kathy has been a major supporter and former vice chair of Communities in Schools here, and one of several board members who helped introduce me to one of the most effective anti-dropout programs in the country.
I had arrived in San Antonio with my family much earlier, having returned to Texas in 1989. Reconnecting with Dick more than 25 years after our first meeting brought me full circle with him. After all, I am still asking for money to underwrite good reporting. It's an honor to call Dick the Rivard Report chairman. He presides over a blue ribbon board that could yet grow, but already is strong.
John Newman Jr.
John "Chico" Newman Jr. is the Rivard Report vice chairman and the president of the John and Florence Newman Foundation. I consider him the quietest philanthropist in San Antonio. His family foundation's gifts and contributions never come with press releases. Over the years, Chico and his wife Ann have supported various nonprofit media, ranging from the Washington D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity to the Austin-based Texas Tribune to San Antonio-based Texas Public Radio, where Ann previously served as chairwoman, and KLRN-TV, San Antonio's public television station.
They've also been instrumental to the well-being of our city's public library system and the San Antonio Public Library Foundation. The Newmans were an important part of a neighborhood effort in Monte Vista that led to the purchase and renovation of the Shook Avenue house where the foundation offices are now located. The Newmans also contributed to the restoration of the Landa Gardens at the Landa Library by supporting the Landa Gardens Alliance, and Ann Van Pelt and Jill Torbert.
After my wife Monika and I moved back to Texas in 1989, our two boys attended Cambridge Elementary School in Alamo Heights. As the newest members of the PTA, we were drafted to lead a fundraising effort to renovate the school playground, which was ringed by a falling fence and a dilapidated, vacant building that sat right in the middle of the space where small children played at recess. The swings and other recreational equipment were in poor condition. The Newmans gave the lead gift that led to removal of the building, new playground equipment and safe fencing. In a small municipality with very little public green space, it was a new day for the Cambridge school children.
Chico, now a longtime friend, has bought and sold a number of businesses over the years and is one the best read and most engaging thinkers I've come to know. That was evident in last week's office mail, which included a clipping he sent from the Financial Times about William Playfair, the 19th century Scot inventor of data graphics and spread sheets. It was a great read and a not-so-subtle reminder that we have a long ways to go in improving our own data presentations.
The Newman Foundation has led the Rivard Report's conversion to 501(c)3 status. Chico's commitment to fund us at the $100,000 level for a three-year period is, literally, the foundation of our efforts to attract tax-deductible donations. Charles Butt, chairman and CEO of H-E-B, has matched the Newman Foundation gift with his own $100,000 contribution and three-year commitment. Charles advised me in late 2011, even before the Rivard Report first appeared, to become a nonprofit. He couldn't understand back then why I didn't take that advice, and he has been kind enough not to remind me of that conversation as we now complete the transition four years later.
H-E-B has been one of the Rivard Report's two biggest supporters with its advertising and sponsorship through our first four years of publication. Our very first supporter was Rackspace Co-Founder and Chairman Graham Weston and two other entities he has established in San Antonio, Geekdom and the 80/20 Foundation.
Monika Maeckle, my wife, and I owe a special debt of gratitude to Graham. He convinced us that we could make the Rivard Report work if we partnered with people in his new ecosystem of programmers, web designers, app builders and other startups. We established a small office in the newly opened Geekdom, started by Weston and Nick Longo, and stepped into a whole new world. It's the only world the rest of the Rivard Report team has ever known. Geekdom, now located in the newly-renovated historic Rand Building and under the leadership of Lorenzo Gomez, remains a vital supporter.
The combined support of H-E-B and various Weston enterprises has led to many other supporters, small and large, signing on as advertisers and sponsors. We are using their continued support and the newest contributions to expand our staff, hire more freelance contributors, and broaden our journalistic and geographic reach in the city.
Lew Moorman is the former president of Rackspace, where he still serves as a member of the board of directors. As the company's former chief strategic officer and then president, Lew led Rackspace into the Cloud, at the time a risky and dramatic pivot that few others saw or necessarily agreed with at the time. It's easy to see in hindsight how right and how important that move was, but back then? What would have become of Rackspace if it hadn't pivoted?
Lew is the treasurer of the Rivard Report.
He also is a founder and driving force behind Tech Bloc, which has been nothing short of a political phenomenon. In the space of less than one year, having been born out of frustration as Uber and Lyft pulled out of San Antonio, Tech Bloc's founders have recruited nearly 2,000 members in San Antonio and made them an active force at City Hall and other levels of local government. Every officeholder in South Texas and in our Washington delegation knows Tech Bloc, and respects its engagement and activism. Tech Bloc members have become involved with staff and officeholders at a working level to contribute their expertise and resources to advance change in the city.
Individuals like Moorman who have achieved great success in the tech world, I have learned, are comfortable with disruption and driven to identify problems that can be solved with new technology. Much of Lew's time now is spent investing in and advising Internet companies, but he is at work on a new venture he expects to announce soon. He has that unique DNA that drives people to start and build things. It is infectious, even for a onetime print journalist.
Schlosberg, Newman and Moorman share a lot in common. All three serve on the board of Texas Biomed here in San Antonio, which is part of an ecosystem and concentration of brain power in the city that we believe is undervalued and under covered in the media. Schlosberg is chairman, Newman is vice chair and Moorman is a member of the executive committee. All three are experienced leaders with strong business backgrounds. All three are invested in this city and the health and welfare of its people and economy. We are fortunate to have such a brain trust as board officers guiding us through our next phase of development.
Our Directors - Katy Flato
I first met Katy Chadwick in 1989 when she was living in Austin, working as the managing editor of Texas Monthly, where she had risen through the ranks over a 10-year career. Katy had previously started and been the founding editor of a small, new shelter magazine, Domain, owned by the same publisher. A story on a young, talented San Antonio architectural firm named Lake/Flato brought her here, and the rest is history. Marriage to the firm's co-founder Ted Flato brought her permanently to San Antonio shortly after my family arrived. We have been fast friends ever since.
Katy Flato is best known in San Antonio as a founder and executive director of the San Antonio Book Festival, which is just a few months younger than the Rivard Report, turning four years old on April 2. Like Moorman, she, too, is a builder. Book festival attendance has grown from 4,000 in year one to 10,000 in year two to 16,000 last year. It's added a major literary and educational happening to the downtown calendar that is free and open to the public. Katy's incredible support of books, reading and the city's public library system spans 25 years of volunteer service and financial support for the San Antonio Public Library Foundation Board, which launched the Book Festival as its signature program in 2013.
Before then, literary fans will remember Copyright Texas, an annual gathering of noted Texas authors at the Central Library who came here for readings and other events. That, too, was a Katy Flato initiative. Through such programs, the Library Foundation and its volunteers have raised $35 million in badly-needed funds for our public libraries.
Book festivals in cities like Austin and Miami have grown to become multi-day events that attract tens of thousands of people and generate tens of million of dollars in economic activity. The only thing that will stop the San Antonio Book Festival from continuing to grow by leaps and bounds is insufficient funding. Given enough support, it could become the biggest downtown cultural event of the year. Our book festival has many who deserve credit for its success, but it would have never happened without Katy, who had little encouragement or financial support at the outset, obstacles which did not deter her. That's the energy and spirit we want to capture at the Rivard Report with Katy on the board.
Katy also serves on the board of the Texas Tribune, which sets the national standard for nonprofit media, and the board of Texas Public Radio here. Given her magazine editing background, experience in start-ups, and service on behalf of other important non-profit organizations she will connect the Rivard Report in many new ways in the community.
There are now more than 100 members nationwide of the nonprofit Institute for Nonprofit News, including the Rivard Report, with digital startups forming in cities everywhere as more news is shared online and print media continues to diminish. The Texas Tribune is considered best in class. Having a board director who serves on that board is an invaluable connection. Texas Public Radio, with its national and international news, and local programming such as The Source, is part of the ecosystem we see ourselves helping to expand.
Laura Saldivar Luna
Laura is the poster woman for Brain Gain, the drive to bring back the generations of talented young people who left to find opportunity they couldn't find in San Antonio. She is a graduate of Jefferson High School who attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
I interviewed her for a program for KLRN-TV a few years ago. We met in the stately, ornate Jefferson library, where I gained a special appreciation of Laura, her local roots, and how far she and her sister had traveled in life.
After graduation, Laura served in the TFA corps in the Rio Grande Valley, teaching English as a Second Language students for two years. She then accepted a position with the national nonprofit in New York. In 2010, Teach for America was brought to San Antonio, an effort initiated and led by Charles Butt. Shortly afterwards, Laura was recruited back to her hometown to lead that effort.
That meant forming a nonprofit board, hiring a small staff, and leading a corps of 150 teachers in the inner city school districts. I've admired Laura from the moment of her arrival, and have watched her successfully work with young teachers, district officials, and her own talented and committed board of directors. She has built the local TFA presence into something it's hard to imagine San Antonio's inner city schools living without now.
Improved education outcomes is a goal all of us share, and giving readers insightful education reporting that goes beyond school board meetings or the latest headline is key to helping people understand where San Antonio schools are succeeding and where more needs to be done to affect better outcomes. Laura will be an invaluable guide and expert for us.
I serve as secretary of the board, so at this juncture we are a seven-person board of directors. There is a constant debate in governance circles about the right number of board directors. Most boards have too many directors, some of whom serve in name only. Board diversity is critical, as is building a board where every single member is a significant contributor. Many of the INN's members have established community advisory boards. That is under discussion here. Given the amount of administrative work required to transition from for-profit to nonprofit, we are moving forward purposefully, knowing we can't do everything in the first month.
First, all of us here need to put the first paragraph of this story into action. Our prospects are bright, and we believe San Antonio will be a better city with a growing Rivard Report. We need your help to make it happen.
Please consider supporting the Rivard Report by becoming a member today.
*Top image: Rivard Report Board members gather on the Museum Reach (from left): Dan Goodgame (former), Laura Saldivar, John Newman Jr., Richard T. Schlosberg III, Katy Flato, and Robert Rivard (Not shown: Lew Moorman). Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone