March 08, 2019 Slideshows » News

25 Influential Women Who Absolutely Run San Antonio 

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Who run the world? According to Beyoncé, girls do. Who runs San Antonio? A lot of important people. In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, we're celebrating 25 local lady bosses that make the Alamo City what it is today.
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Becky Hammon
Becky Hammon has broken down barriers for women in the NBA. After a successful career in the WNBA, Hammon retired from the court and moved to the sidelines to become the first female assistant coach in NBA history. She has also served as the head coach for the Spurs Las Vegas Summer League, while continuing to prove that women deserve a place in the league through her position with the Spurs. While we love having her with the franchise, it’s just a matter of time before Hammon lands a head coaching gig.
Photo via Instagram / officialbeckyhammon
Shirley Gonzales
Since being elected in 2013, Shirley Gonzales has stood up for a number of issues while serving her constituents on the city’s West Side. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, the District 5 councilwoman worked in her family’s business before choosing to go into local politics. A self-described advocate for budget and resource equity, made history as the first woman to have a baby while in City Council office. Today, she serves on a number of committees related to transportation, workforce development, the arts and technology to truly push for equality among SA’s residents and culture.
Photo by Jade Esteban Estrada
Ina Minjarez
A lawmaker and an attorney, Rep. Ina Minjarez has turned heads since her 2015 special-election victory to fill Jose Menendez’s seat. Now, Minjarez makes it a point to cross the aisle, going the extra mile to get to know every representative and sit next a different person each morning. A bipartisan approach is what she’s all about in order to get stuff done. Despite the obstacles, Minjarez continues to serve her constituents and allows any hurdles to power her hustle.
Photo via Facebook / facebook.com/Vote4Ina
Cariño Cortez
La Familia Cortez, the family behind Mi Tierra, Pico De Gallo and more, have made their mark and gained their lasting place in San Antonio’s history. But Chef Cariño Cortez, a third-generation Cortez family member, had made a mark all on her own. She’s worked every job in the business – from hostess to catering employee to floor manager. After studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Cortez worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City. She eventually returned to San Antonio and currently serves as the project manager for La Familia Cortez Restaurants. Though she’s behind the scenes in that role, Cortez gives back to the community by being part of community events related to the culinary arts.
Photo via Instagram / jentobiasstruski
Erika Prosper
A daughter of migrant workers who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley went on to become San Antonio’s “first lady.” But Erika Prosper is more than just Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s wife. She is a business executive for H-E-B. A community leader. A civic volunteer. Though she serves as director of customer insights at the Texas grocery chain’s corporate office, Prosper also serves on the H-E-B Corporate Diversity Council and Health and Literacy Task Forces and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board.
Photo via Instagram / erika_prosper
Sofia Sepulveda
Though not a public office holder, Sofia Sepulveda dedicated her time to standing up for what she believes in and demanding change. Name a protest event, and she’s likely been there at the front of the crowd. A vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders, Sepulveda’s leftist point-of-views have led her to block-walk for progressive candidates and serve the community as a visible local activist, primarily for healthcare and free speech issues. With a thick Mexican accent, the trans woman has said time and time again that her goal is to be part of the movement that changes the Democratic party. On that note, she’s worked with the Texas Organizing Project and Our Revolution Texas and served as a Bexar County Democratic Party precinct chair.
Photo by Jade Esteban Estrada
Paula Gold-Williams
After stints as a financial exec in the regional operations of Time Warner Cable and the Luby’s restaurant chain, Paula Gold-Williams joined CPS in 2004 as a controller and moved up the ranks to CEO in 2016. The buck stops with her when it comes to keeping the lights on, the air conditioning running and the machines of industry juiced up. Gold-Williams’ moves in infrastructure and energy make her a key player in economic development behind the scenes.
Photo via CPS Energy
Crystal Dady
Lots of San Antonians are aware of the success of Chef Jason Dady, but not many take a moment to consider the woman by his side. Meet Crystal Dady, who is an owner in the Jason Dady Restaurant Group. While she leaves the kitchen stuff to her husband, Crystal oversees every aspect of the company – business strategy and administration, financials, marketing and legal plus so much more. And keep in mind that Chef Dady has six restaurants. Six! Yep, Crystal Dady is the definition of a lady boss.
Photo via Instagram / B.SimplyPhoto
Julianna Hawn Holt
Since 2016, Julianna Hawn Holt has served as the chairman and CEO of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, a role she filled after her estranged husband Peter M. Holt gave up the title after 20 years. Julianna has managed to keep the legacy of the franchise alive in the years since. And hell, her signature look with the big, dark sunglasses makes her even more of an icon.
Photo via NBA.com
Rebecca Viagran
Since 2013, Rebecca Viagran has held it down for District 3 – the city’s South Side, where she was born and raised. As councilwoman, Viagran has served as a tireless advocate in order to create equity, opportunity and prosperity for all San Antonians. She was part of the team that helped get the missions designated as a collective World Heritage site and has been influential in the booming development of the Brooks area.
Photo via Instagram / rebeccaviagran
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Monique Diaz
A native of San Antonio, Monique Diaz has made a splash despite having just a decade or so of professional experience. After receiving her law degree from St. Mary’s University in 2009, Diaz has worked in the Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and at the University of Texas at San Antonio. These days, the 34-year-old serves as a judge in the 150th District Court, a position she went after in order to make a difference locally under the Trump administration.
Photo by Jade Esteban Estrada
Graciela Sanchez
As director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Graciela Sanchez is pretty damn influential. But Sanchez isn’t just the face of the West Side landmark, she’s also a social justice warrior for other communities in the Alamo City. By addressing social issues through art and community, Sanchez stands up for the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, women and working class folks – demanding that marginalized individuals be treated equally. Through programming at the Esperanza Center, Sanchez has become a voice for the community and has helped the center be a safe space where others can do the same.
Photo by Jade Esteban Estrada
Elizabeth Fauerso
The Historic Pearl is a happening place where everyone wants to be. Seriously, it went from a largely-ignored area to a spot made with locals in mind while also appealing to tourists. Meet Elizabeth Fauerso, the Pearl’s chief marketing officer. She’s been monumental in making the Pearl what it is today, and we’re certainly thankful for her.
Photo via Instagram / elifauerso
Anne Ng
Bakery Lorraine embodies what a bakery truly should be: carefully-crafted treats made with attention in every detail. That’s why co-owner and baker Anne Ng, along with husband Jeremy Mandrell and entrepreneur Charlie Biedenharn, have a stake in San Antonio’s food scene. With macarons and tarts at the forefront, Bakery Lorraine has won over hearts of locals while also gaining national attention. Popularity at the Quarry Farmers Market led to the bakery outgrowing its first brick-and-mortar location back in 2012, before landing at the very-fitting Pearl. Today, Bakery Lorraine has multiple SA locations and even an Austin outpost. Take the bakery’s success for what it is: Anne Ng knows what she’s doing, she does it well – and it doesn’t seem like she’s stopping anytime soon.
Photo via Instagram / anndabear
Maria Berriozabal
Maria Berriozabal’s political awakening came as she worked on San Antonio’s HemisFair ’68. After seeing first-hand how power and money interacted, she became engaged in the civil rights movement, ultimately mounting a successful run for city council in 1980. Not only did she become the first Latina to serve on council, she also spent a decade representing the district that includes downtown. Berriozabal’s impact continues today through her input on Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s Housing Policy Task force.
Photo via Twitter / @Ron_Nirenberg
Sandy Morander
With more than three decades of experience as a YMCA professional, Sandy Morander is all about serving the community as president and CEO of YMCA of Greater San Antonio. She’s held the position since 2011, and is the first woman to hold that title. Morander is dedicated to helping people connect to their passion and reach their potential. As a certified lady boss, she’s a good role model to look up to.
Photo via Facebook / YMCA of Greater San Antonio
Ana Sandoval
As a product of District 7, Councilwoman Ana Sandoval has dedicated her career to public service. After attending MIT, Stanford and Harvard, Sandoval brought her years of learning (she studied three different types of engineering) back home to serve in local government. She’s dedicated to the environment, as she’s worked on a number of environmental health research projects at the UT School of Public Health at UTSA. She’s one smart lady, and she’s putting it to good use as a councilwoman.
Photo via Instagram / anasandovalsatx
Lisa Campos
As more women demand to take up the same space as men in sports and athletics, more women will achieve notable titles. Such is the case for Lisa Campos, UTSA’s athetic director since 2017. The Colorado native worked her way up – she spent nearly a decade as assistant athletic director at UT at El Paso, where she also received her doctorate degree. Yep, Lisa Campos is one badass lady.
Photo via Twitter / @LisaUTSA
Michelle Tremillo
From helping secure paid sick leave for local workers to mobilizing voters to elect Democratic DA Kim Ogg in Harris County, the Texas Organizing Project has emerged as one of the state’s most visible advocates for social and economic justice. And, as its executive director, Michelle Tremillo is able to call on a growing base of supporters to help mobilize black and Latinx voters. What’s more, she’s done it from the Alamo City. Since returning to her native San Antonio with a degree from Stanford, Tremillo helped found Public Allies San Antonio, which trains future non-profit leaders.
Photo via organizetexas.org
Jody Newman
If San Antonio had a cool older sister that would buy you beer for you and your friends, she would be Jody Newman. We’re not being weird, follow us here. Jody, along with husband Steve, owns The Friendly Spot, which is expected to open its second location this year. The Newmans also own Hills & Dales Ice House as well as B&D Ice House. That’s right, Jody Newman knows her beer. These spots are popular for a reason, so the next time you want to drink, raise your beer to Jody for giving us such badass watering holes.
Photo via Instagram / hillsanddalesicehouse
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Linda Chavez-Thompson
Longtime labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson was elected executive vice president of the AFL-CIO in 1995, becoming the first person of color to be elected to one of the federation’s three highest offices. While in that role she also served on the boards of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Much of her attention has been on national issues, but Chavez-Thompson’s continued commitment to her adopted hometown was apparent last year in her support for organizers’ successful petition drive on paid sick leave for San Antonio workers.
Photo by Sanford Nowlin
Susana Mijares
Co-owner of Délice Chocolatier and Patisserie, along with husband Nacho Aguirre, pasty chef Susana Mijares has helped shine some light on the Alamo City’s food scene after appearing on the Food Network – twice. She appeared on the Spring Baking Championship show and later competed for the title of Best Baker in America. The Torreón, Mexico native graduated from Cordon Bleu Paris and, thankfully, settled down in SA. While lightning might not strike three times for Mijares to appear on the Food Network a third time, her career and shop’s success so far are proof that she’s not a lady to be underestimated.
Photo courtesy of the Food Network
DeAnne Cuellar
As co-founder of UpgradeSA, a community-driven civic tech organization focused on advocating for digital equity in San Antonio, DeAnne Cuellar is on the front line of fighting to ensure everyone can participate in the digital revolution. As part of that cause, Cuellar has also been an outspoken proponent of net neutrality, the concept that Internet service providers should not be allowed to block or slow down the websites you can access. That longtime Internet principle fell into jeopardy when the FCC, under chairman Ajit Pai, dismantled net neutrality rules in 2017.
Photo via Instagram / deannetx
Catherine Torres-Stahl
After receiving her law degree from St. Mary’s University, Catherine Torres-Stahl served as the district judge for the 144th District in Bexar County and is now a judge for the Texas 175th District Court in Texas. Previously named a Latina Judge of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association, Torres-Stahl is the decision maker in big criminal cases. She’s truly looking out for the community, especially since she’s native to the Alamo City. Torres-Stahl graduated from Fox Tech in 1984.
Photo via ballotpedia.org
Patti Radle
Patti Radle finishes her term this year as president and District 5 representative for the San Antonio Independent School District, but her public service track record is long. Radle and her husband Rod serve as volunteer directors of Inner City Development, which they founded in their West Side home in 1972. The organization has given rise to other groups including the San Antonio Alternative Housing Corp. and San Anto Cultural Arts. Radle was considered a voice for the voiceless when she served on council from 2003 to 2007, and she remains a strong public policy advocate.
Photo courtesy of SA2020
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Becky Hammon
Becky Hammon has broken down barriers for women in the NBA. After a successful career in the WNBA, Hammon retired from the court and moved to the sidelines to become the first female assistant coach in NBA history. She has also served as the head coach for the Spurs Las Vegas Summer League, while continuing to prove that women deserve a place in the league through her position with the Spurs. While we love having her with the franchise, it’s just a matter of time before Hammon lands a head coaching gig.
Photo via Instagram / officialbeckyhammon

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