Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Meet Adriana Rocha Garcia, San Antonio's District 4 Councilwoman

Posted By on Tue, Jul 9, 2019 at 1:51 PM

click to enlarge JADE ESETEBAN ESTRADA
  • Jade Eseteban Estrada
On June 8, the City of San Antonio held runoff elections in three city council races in addition to the mayor's race. Seats for Districts 2, 4 and 6 were still up for grabs after no candidates in these races were able to secure 50% of the vote in May.

At the end of the night, women ended up acquiring all three seats. The result led to the council being made up of six women and five men, making it only the second time in the history of the city that the council would be women-led.

"It's really cool... It's so empowering to see so many women because we traditionally haven't seen [them] at the table anywhere, so we're making our way in," said Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia, District 4 councilwoman.

She is a lifelong resident of San Antonio and has called District 4 her home for the past 35 years.



This new role as councilwoman is exciting for her, as she now has the opportunity to serve an area she grew up in and knows well.

"I'm really excited about being able to represent the community. I've seen it grow, I've seen the ups and downs of it, and I think that there is enormous opportunity for the district," she said.

Dr. Garcia fills the seat that was previously held by Rey Saldaña, who has termed out after serving for the past 8 years.

"Councilman Saldana has done a great job, so I know that there was a lot of visible progress during his tenure and I hope to continue that momentum."

Childhood

Growing up on the Southwest side, Dr. Garcia remembers her neighborhood and how at a young age, she discovered a passion for helping in any way she could.

"I knew all of my neighbors growing up... a lot of them didn't speak English, so as I was growing up, they would ask me to help them with reading or writing things," she said.

She grew up in an area of the district called Indian Creek, also known as "the Creek." In the past, high crime and police activity led this area to have a bad reputation. However, Dr. Garcia is proud to be from the area because of her positive childhood memories.

"There are really good people with great intentions that help each other out and really want each other to succeed and help their kids succeed...that's the part that people forget about. I like the family feel, and I can't imagine being too far away from that."

She believes there is more that can be done to improve the quality of life in her district.

"Sixty-two square miles, the district is huge, so it's not just the South Side of San Antonio. Residents have different needs in different areas of the district."

As discussed earlier, her passion to help out began at a young age. From being a member of the safety patrol in her elementary years to serving as class president in high school, leadership and service have always been important to her.

"I didn't think of it as leadership [at the time], I just wanted to make a difference somehow...that's always what I've wanted to do. Every day, I ask myself, 'What did you do to help someone today?', thinking about it from every perspective."

Higher Education

Dr. Garcia grew up in a community of hard-working people. At a young age, she was taught that work and family were two important aspects of her life and that her future in those aspects would determine how well she would live.

That message motivated her to pursue a college degree. Her high school counselors suggested she start at one of the community colleges, but she had bigger aspirations.

"I was like 'isn't there one off of Broadway?', referring to Incarnate Word. I joined Talent Search, now Communities in Schools, and they helped give us tours of colleges and universities, and that was actually the first time I realized I can get an undergraduate degree."

At the beginning of her college career, she was a bit unsure as to what she wanted to study. She ultimately decided on a journalism degree and graduated with a B.A. from Incarnate Word.

Upon graduation, she didn't find a job specific to her field of study. However, Incarnate Word offered her a job in the university’s Office of Public Relations and she completed her Master’s degree in Public Relations from the same university one year later.

In 2004, she was in a cohort of 12 students accepted into the University of Texas at Austin's Doctoral Advertising program, where ten years and many miles later, she became one of the first Hispanics to earn a Ph.D. in Advertising from UT’s prestigious Moody College of Communication.

Community/Professional Involvement

Her passion to help can be seen through the various nonprofit and business organizations she has worked with.

Dr. Garcia has held various administrative and consulting communications and marketing positions throughout her life, in organizations like SAMMinistries Furniture for A Cause, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the City of San Antonio, Southwest ISD and Project QUEST.

Dr. Garcia served as the chair of the City of San Antonio’s Ethics Review Board for nearly three years, where she was responsible for leading a team of ten representatives appointed to represent their districts in the recently passed changes to the Ethics and Municipal Finance Code. She has also served as communications chair for the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas-San Antonio Chapter.

She currently serves as immediate past president of the San Antonio Chapter of the Texas Exes, chapter advisory board member for the Texas Exes organization in Austin, chair of the Finance Council at Divine Providence Catholic Church, member of the Archbishop’s Appeal Steering Committee, board member of Chef Johnny Hernandez’s Kitchen Campus, board member of Communities in Schools San Antonio and is an assistant marketing professor at Our Lady of the Lake University, where she teaches marketing in the School of Business and Leadership.

In 2018, Dr. Garcia was also named to the San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and was accepted into Leadership San Antonio 300, where she was a member of the Best Day Ever, the Civic Engagement Day team.

District 4 Issues

"Our district right now is almost equally divided into thirds: 1/3 of the population is under 18, 1/3 of the population is over 55. So, looking at those three different audiences, if you will, and trying to figure out what each one of those needs and how we can help as a city."

Responsible Growth
"For the 55+, making sure we look at responsible growth that doesn't displace them. We have a lot of land in District 4, so economic development is going to be very critical.

Expansion of Workforce Training and Development
"With that, is their availability for workforce training and development for the middle section of the group (18-54). We know that by empowering folks, by giving them workforce development skills training, they can affect their families which is the 18 and under by breaking the cycle of generational poverty."

Planning for Next Million People
"We also need to plan for the next million that are coming to San Antonio. What are we doing to work with other nonprofit organizations, other public organizations, with private organizations, with local business, so that we can make sure that we are prepared for that growth and that we are forward thinking about how to get that growth responsibly."

Hopes for First Term

Continuing the momentum of former councilman Saldana's term is important for Dr. Garcia.

"Councilman Saldaña and his staff had a parks plan in place, sidewalks plan, lighting in place. I want to be very mindful because those were all developed with community input. So making sure that we don't derail from anything that the community said that they wanted."

She also wants to bring District 4 representatives into the decision-making processes that occur.

"I don't think that enough District 4 representatives are coming to the table in important decision-making processes. So asking for more engagement from stakeholders, but allowing the opportunity for engagement is important.

She also plans to stay as connected as possible to her district, through both technology and old-fashioned meetings and phone calls.

"There's a lot of residents that don't have access to a smartphone. How do we communicate with them? Establishing the rules for availability, making sure that people know they can call or come by, making them aware that we are available is important to me."

As she is just beginning her first term on council, she hopes to do great things in her time there for the betterment of her community and values the knowledge and pride she has for it.

"I'm so excited to be serving District 4. I'm from here, so I know what it's like. I didn't just move here, I've been here, helping in my community. It's important to know the community that you serve."

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