Swain Chosen as World Heritage Director

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Mission San José. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mission San José

Colleen Swain, a Southside native whose grandparents lived near Mission San José, was named the City’s first World Heritage Director on Tuesday. The newly-created position puts her at the center of San Antonio’s efforts to take the designation of the Alamo and four Spanish Missions as a UNESCO World Heritage site and develop a more comprehensive approach to conserving the city’s historical and cultural assets and promoting sensitive development and sustainable tourism.

The appointment was one of several key staff changes announced by City Manager Sheryl Sculley in a Wednesday memo to Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Council, as they prepared to hold their weekly B Session meeting. Swain, the assistant director for the Center City Development & Operations Department, has helped lead many of the City’s downtown initiatives in recent years. Swain oversees urban core development, special events, marketing and retail development, and has been responsible for organizing infill development workshops.

Headshot of Colleen Swain. Photo Courtesy of City of San Antonio.

Headshot of Colleen Swain. Photo Courtesy of City of San Antonio.

Before joining the Center City Development office, Swain served as the assistant director of Downtown Operations, which oversees downtown and River Walk maintenance, and offers assistance and outreach to convention-goers, tourists and other visitors. Swain was not immediately available for comment.

Sculley also announced the departure of two City directors. City Planning and Community Development Director John Dugan is resigning, effective April 15. Dugan has held the director position for the last four years and was the key City staffer guiding the SA Tomorrow initiative.

During a phone interview Wednesday, Dugan said that he was leaving to help his siblings care for their ailing mother, who lives in Oklahoma City.

“My choice was personal. It had nothing to do with City operations and planning,” said Dugan, adding that he would begin his new position as a city planner for Arlington, Texas, starting May 1. The new location will allow him to travel to see his family more often.

In the meantime, Dugan said, he will be completely engaged in the planning program SA Tomorrow initiative, which is scheduled to be completed and presented to City Council by June.

In another director change, Sculley also announced the March 31 retirement of Animal Care Services Director Kathy Davis. Sculley praised Davis for building strong partnerships with the San Antonio Humane Society, the Animal Defense League, San Antonio Pets Alive! and other animal rescue and adoption organizations, and achieving a 90% live release rate while reducing the population of stray animals in the city. Xavier D. Urrutia, who has served for six years as director of Parks and Recreation, was named interim director.




*CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Swain had led the Office of Historic Preservation. Swain was the Assistant Director of Downtown Operations before she joined the Center City Development Office.

*Top Image: Mission San José, the “Queen of the Missions.” Photo by Scott Ball. 

Related Stories:

Commentary: New Ideas for San Antonio’s World Heritage

World Heritage Symposium Addresses Land Use Around Missions

World Heritage Symposium Highlights Need for Strategic Development, Storytelling

City Convenes First World Heritage Symposium


28 thoughts on “Swain Chosen as World Heritage Director

  1. Congratulations Colleen. The City of SA is lucky to have you. You have done well in every position that you have held with COSA and are the perfect choice for the first World Heritage Director. Thank you so much for the extra effort on the Alamo Brewery project.

  2. Congratulations Colleen! I am so happy for you and so happy for us!! You have served us so well in a variety of positions…and that accumulated knowledge and experience will be of great value in this very important assignment. What you do to support and protect our new UNESCO jewels can set standards for our less celebrated and more vulnerable historic assets as well. And we will all profit from that. Press on!! Jerry

  3. Excellent choice!
    Sensitive to community, a good listener and strategic thinker and invested in the outcome. San Antonio is lucky she is home grown and has stuck with us.

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