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“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Changing the world. It sounds daunting. And it is, when viewed through the lens of an individual. But when a community of engaged people – those with a shared vision to improve their community, informed by data, working side-by-side across cultural and economic boundaries, and bringing diverse skills and perspectives to the table? That’s powerful and doable.

That concept was on full display as members of Leadership San Antonio (LSA) Class 44 held their sixth class day on Aug. 7, 2019, focusing on a fundamental guiding question: “What will you do to develop the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make a different in OUR community, and how will that change be sustainable for the next 300 years?” The LSA “GoodCrew” designed a day of experiences to help educate, encourage and spark action for their classmates on how being socially responsible can create increased civic engagement – to include advocacy in politics/government and our community – that began with the video “Change for the Better” linked below and created by the GoodCrew with help from the SAISD Brackenridge High School Media and Film Institute. Please take a look:

VIDEO: “Change for the Better”

https://youtu.be/UtGEk3cwUZY

Three key themes emerged as the day unfolded:

  • Equity – According to City of San Antonio Office of Equity, equity means “that our policy-making, service delivery, and distribution of resources account for the different histories, challenges, and needs of the people we serve.” With that in mind, how can civically engaged SA leaders from disparate industries and backgrounds help advance equitable outcomes for our community?
  • Military City – San Antonio is Military City, USA. It is estimated that 10 percent of San Antonians are associated with Joint Base San Antonio, directly or indirectly. Supporting more than 280,000 members of our military community and contributing close to $50 billion to our local economy, the relationship between San Antonio and the various branches of service are historic, far-reaching and complex. How can civically engaged SA leaders be intentional about supporting and engaging with the military community?
  • Adaptive Leadership – Adaptive Leadership is a practical leadership framework that helps individuals and organizations adapt and thrive in challenging environments. It is being able, both individually and collectively, to take on the gradual but meaningful process of change. How can civically engaged SA leaders learn to embrace adaptive leadership through navigating business environments, leading with empathy, and learning through self-correction and reflection?

 

The day began at Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park that is 100% accessible to children and families with special needs. The morning panel included perspectives from Kenny Wilson, CEO of Haven for Hope; Harriet Dominique, SVP of Corporate Responsibility at USAA, Chris Martin, President & CEO of the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, and Councilwomen Rebecca Viagran, City Council District 3 in San Antonio. Panelists shared their perspectives on what corporate responsibility means to them through the lens of their unique perspectives of representing: nonprofits, corporations, coordinating giving, and government and city programs.

Native San Antonian Gordon Hartman, who was inspired by his daughter, Morgan, to create Morgan’s Wonderland 10 years ago, has since created an environment that combines a welcome place for adventure in a beautiful environment free of physical and economic barriers that all individuals – regardless of age, special need or disability – can come to and enjoy. “Morgan’s Wonderland is not a theme park for the disabled,” Hartman said. “It is a theme park that is accessible to everyone.”

Kiran Bains, SA2020 Director of Community Impact, shared perspectives on equity and explained how a data-based approach to addressing the needs of the city population and makes the greatest possible impact toward the SA2020 Community Vision. Under Kiran’s leadership, the Office of Equity was awarded the National League of Cities Cultural Diversity Award and a finalist for the National Civic League’s All America City Award.

The next phase of the day included a visit to the Vogel Resiliency Center at Joint Base San Antonio – a cutting-edge facility that provides health and wellness programs to strengthen and empower active duty personnel from all branches of service, military dependents and veterans. San Antonio is Military City, USA. It is estimated that 10 percent of San Antonians are associated with Joint Base San Antonio, directly or indirectly. The Vogel team did a remarkable job showcasing how their facility and programs are designed to help military families through issues related to nutrition coaching, family life, substance abuse, suicide awareness, personal finances, and the transition to civilian life. LSA participants were able to reflect on how they can be even more intentional about supporting and engaging with the military community – and making a difference through their personal engagement as well as the resources from organizations they represent. Furthermore, Vogel welcomes any LSA class member who would like to return to the center to do pro-bono work with their clients. Interested individuals should contact Dan Katka at daniel.r.katka.civ@mail.mil.

The LSA class enjoyed a catered lunch at the City Council Chambers, where they were joined in table conversations from members of City Council as well as City Management. The class transitioned to the Council Chambers where they heard from Zan Gibbs, Chief Equity Officer for the City of San Antonio. Zan shared an overview of her team’s citywide equity work that spans all Departments, with the goal of advancing equity in budgeting, community engagement, and program and service delivery. The Office of Equity develops, implements and supports a variety of equity and inclusion initiatives, including the creation and application of key tools and trainings. In 2017 the City of San Antonio adopted its first annual budget incorporating equity budget concepts and continues to apply a Budget Equity Tool every year with every City department.

The day formally wrapped up at Haven for Hope, a world-class nonprofit dedicated to offering hope and new beginnings for those experiencing homelessness. SA2020 President & CEO Molly Cox built upon the earlier themes of equity and community impact and highlighted key areas that the San Antonio community is working on as it advances on the SA2020 shared vision.

The day concluded with each LSA class member standing before their classmates to share their personal call-to-action of what they were inspired to do differently as a result of learnings from the day, and each class member received an LSA challenge coin from GoodCrew team member Levi Rogers, who served in the Army with distinction as a Green Beret.

A “Challenge Coin” is a time-honored tradition within the military community. The coins are memorials that tell the stories of where we’ve been, that commemorate a service done for others, and that reflect a shared purpose. Those who hold the same coin also share a sense of camaraderie, of shared experience and a connection to one another because of that shared experience. Challenge coins are not only rich in meaning, they are highly valued and cherished by the holder. This LSA Challenge Coin was created to honor LSA Class 44’s work and time together, the good the class has accomplished, the scope of what the class learned individually and collectively, and the positive impact the class has had and will continue to make on our city. It is the hope of the GoodCrew that future classes will continue the tradition of creating their own Challenge Coins so that the themes of shared experience and connection to one another as members of LSA will continue for the next 300 years!!

As residents of San Antonio, we believe we have a duty to shape this diverse community for the common good of all residents and future of our children. The GoodCrew hopes members of LSA Class 44 came away from the day with a more profound understanding of how each concept manifests in the private, public and military sectors and the impactful role each concept (and each one of us) will play in the future of San Antonio.

Signed,

  • Cristina Bazaldua-Salazar
  • Rachel Benavidez
  • Jennifer Dowe
  • Rodrigo Figueroa
  • Gaby Flores
  • Jenny Hall
  • Zac Harris
  • Art Reinhardt
  • Levi Rogers
  • Lea Rosenauer
  • Justin Schmitt
  • Tinsley Smith

(aka. The Good Crew)

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