On May 5, 2021 the 45th Leadership San Antonio (leadershipsa.org) class held their first in-person day since the COVID-19 pandemic began.  LSA had previously adopted safety protocols aligned with current U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19.  Class members also joined virtually from their home or office.

The day, hosted by the Be Healthy team and sponsored by Methodist Health Metropolitan, examined the ways in which San Antonio is addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) to emerge from the COVID-19 public health crisis stronger, healthier, and more resilient.  LSA 2020-21 examined SDOH through three pillars of physical, financial, and mental health.  The first segment of the day was held at City Education Partners at the Pearl Brewery.

The day began with a delicious and nutritious breakfast from sponsors Methodist Hospital Metropolitan and Powerhouse Bakery, and coffee provided by Tag Coffee.  The day began with a mindfulness activity led by LSA 20-21’s very own Miranda Puente, CEO of Puente Plumbing and Certified Yoga instructor.  Class members  participated in a twenty minute yoga session where they released anxiety, reconnected as a class and began the day with an open mind for learning.

LSA 2020-21 class member Jeff Wurzburg virtually interviewed surprise guest Representative Diego Bernal about the intersection between Medicaid and Social Determinants of Health.  Representative Bernal recognized Leadership San Antonio as a group of “influential people who will themselves determine the future of the city.” Representative Bernal also addressed why he introduced legislation during the Texas’ 87th legislative session to expand Medicaid and the impact expansion would have on the population and business communities of Texas and San Antonio.  He recognized Medicaid as “the punctuation mark at the end of all of these social determinants.” In addition to providing vulnerable populations with health care, Representative Bernal discussed the benefit to employers of having a healthier workforce.  He stated that increased Medicaid coverage means greater productivity and a more lucrative business environment that isn’t responsible for the cost of employee health care.

Colonel (Retired) Mary Garr, President and CEO of the Family Service Association, provided the class with an overview of SDOH and their impact on health and mortality rates in San Antonio. The CDC defines SDOH as “the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.”  In particular, Col. Garr informed the class about how SDOH effect economic stability, education, housing, and community engagement.  She discussed how investments in social services to address social determinants can mitigate costly adverse health outcomes.

Lauren Geraghty, Chief Strategy Officer for Communities In Schools of San Antonio, followed with an engaging and eye-opening presentation about adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and the critical role they play in shaping one’s outlook and outcomes.  Lauren shared the importance of being a trauma informed community by understanding ACES to better understand ourselves, our behaviors and the relationships we have with others.  Communities In Schools of San Antonio offers our community ACE trainings which are great for educators, business leaders and those who want to develop better relationships around mental wellness with their teams and/or youth.  The next virtual ACE training will take place on June 23 from 1-3PM, and more details may be found by visiting cissa.org.

A delightfully healthy lunch consisting of a nutritious whole grain bowl and fresh fruit was sponsored by Broadway Bank.  Rita Espinoza, MPH, DrPH, Chief of Epidemiology at Metro Health next shared with LSA 2020-21 an update on a safe and healthy return to work.  Central to a return to work is prevention which consists of getting the vaccine, wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing hands frequently. Dr. Espinoza also noted that it was important to remind sick employees to stay home and encourage staff to be vaccinated. Lastly, she provided the group with resources through the City of San Antonio, State of Texas, and CDC to aid in Covid-19 preparedness.

Turning to financial health, Celina Pena, the Chief Advancement Officer of Lift Fund spoke to the class about the financial health of small businesses emerging from the pandemic through the lens of SDOH. In Bexar County, small businesses owned by minorities were hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those Black & Hispanic-owned. Celina also talked about the Helm Program, developed in partnership with USAA and the support of community partners, aimed at helping BIPOC businesses navigate a post covid world for success. For more information on Helm, please visit:HELM.

The day then shifted to Hanger 9 at Brooks.  Paul Rezaei, Founder of Work Out Help Out (WOHO) and a certified personal trainer engaged the class in a fun and challenging work out.  WOHO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening communities and volunteers. WOHO hosts weekend volunteer service events that integrate exercise into community service.  Additional information, including opportunities to volunteer, may be found at https://www.workouthelpout.org/.

At the conclusion of their day, the Be Healthy Team held a Cinco De Mayo themed social hour sponsored by Brooks,Deco Pizzeria, and Viva Beer.  The LSA2020-21 class was joined by Richard Perez, President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and Marina Gonzales, President and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Esperanza “Hope” Andrade, 2021 San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Chair of the Board, shared her experience in LSA and encouraged class members to remain connected with their classmates.

LSA 2020-21 was surprised by Rey Feo and LSA Class 29 member, Thomas Aguillon.  He was joined by members of the Rey Feo LXXII Court, including LSA Steeering Committee 2020-21 member Edward Benavides and class member Dave Sims.  LSA 2020-21 Co-Chair Cristina Bazaldua and steeering committee member JR Trevino are also members of the court.

Be Healthy Day was made possible by generous sponsorships.  The day was presented by Methodist Hospital Metropolitan, and also received support from Broadway Bank, Brooks, Deco Pizzeria, H-E-B, Float, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP, City Education Partners, Moorehouse Marketing, Powerhouse Bakery, NatureSweet Tomatoes, StretchLab, Culligan Southwest, KIND, Miss Chickpea’s Bake Shop, Printed Supply, TAG Coffee, The Nutrition Range, Viva Beer, and YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Support and partnership opportunities for Leadership San Antonio are always available through corporate and individual donations of time, talent, and treasure.  For specific sponsorship details, please contact Lori Stinson at lstinson@sachamber.org.

Be Healthy Team (Edward Benavides, Langston Clark, Kat Filut, Connie Gonzalez, Kara Heasley, Heather Hepp, Alejandro Romero, Felisha Sanchez & Jeff Wurzburg).

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