On the heels of an engaging and inspiring day of service held on February 9th, Leadership San Antonio’s (LSA) Class 46 officially kicked-off the new class year at its traditional overnight Opening Retreat over the recent President’s Day weekend. The retreat was the first opportunity for many of the class participants to get to know each other and was the perfect blend of fun lively activities and focused meaningful dialogue. LSA 46 Co-Chairs, Anne-Marie Grube (Northwestern Mutual) and Stacy Larson (Frost Bank), opened with the class vision – “to have powerful conversations in order to deeply understand disparities and challenges in our community and to harness our collective resources to develop solutions that will have an enduring impact.”

The retreat began with a viewing of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk titled The Danger of a Single Story. Adichie explains that if we only hear about a people, place, or situation from one point of view, we are at risk for accepting that one experience – that single story – as the whole truth. She says, instead, we must seek diverse perspectives and acknowledge each other’s humanity and complexity.

LSA 46 Steering Committee member Jennifer Cook (San Antonio Area Foundation), who served as one of the lead planners of the retreat, said, “Stories and narratives help us make sense of the world and understand complex issues, such as racial equity.  People often understand issues our society faces through dominant narratives reinforced through media and public figures.” Cook continued, “Shifting the narrative or reframing how stories are told, can help break down narratives that disadvantage vulnerable populations.”

The class then heard from LSA 46 Steering Committee member and retreat planner, Dalia Flores Contreras (City Education Partners), who focused on the San Antonio landscape and offered data surrounding Education, Safety, Income, Housing, and Infrastructure and discussed the systemic challenges we face as a community. She presented and facilitated the Groundwater Approach by Racial Equity Institute which will serve as an important framework and lens to reflect on equity and impact throughout the year ahead.

The first day concluded with a powerful leadership panel discussion with Phil Green, Chairman and CEO of Frost Bank and 2022 Board Chair of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and Darryl Byrd, Founder and Managing Principal of ULTRAte Advisors and 2022 Vice Chair for the Board of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Both shared their own personal reflections on racial inequity and their important work together on Corporate Partners for Racial Equity (CPRE). CPRE is San Antonio’s newly formed organization created to address racial inequities. The founding members contributed nearly $14 million over the next 5 years to support underserved people in three primary areas – Equitable Education, Economic Opportunity, and Safety and Justice.

Byrd revealed that he carries a small copy of the US Constitution and recited the first line of Preamble to the attendees saying, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice…” and then called the group to action by pointing out that “justice is the work we are all called by our founders to commit to.”

The engagement continued the following morning with small group planning meetings and two additional speakers. Denise Hernandez, owner and operator of The Eatery Culinary Group, M-PRESSED Commercial Laundry Services, The Fruteria y Botanero and Vice-President of Development for True Flavors Catering, and 2022 Chairwoman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber, closed out the retreat by reflecting on her journey in Leadership San Antonio and Dr. Kara Allen, Chief Impact Officer, Spurs Sports and Entertainment, left the class with these inspiring words of advice “Get closer. Get comfortable. Get people what they need. Do joy.”

LSA 46 will begin their full class days by exploring Health and Wellness on Wednesday, March 3rd.

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