LSA Explores Sustainability and Technology

Leadership San Antonio rocked their way through a fourth program day while exploring the issues, challenges, and possibilities around sustainability, infrastructure, and technology. Specifically, participants were asked to consider how to balance the tug of war between technology, sustainability, and infrastructure while also weighing the costs and benefits to San Antonio.

LSA 44 started their day at the historic Barn Door restaurant.  The first topic of the day was internet accessibility. One in four San Antonians do not have access to the internet, which makes them vulnerable to lower education rates and more susceptible to continuing the cycle of poverty.  Clarissa Ramon the Government and Community Affairs Manager for Google Fiber, Brian Dillard the City of San Antonio’s Chief Innovation Officer, and Dax Moreno the Chief Talent Officer for Tech Bloc participated in a panel moderated by Graham Watson-Ringo (LSA-44), the Editor for the Rivard Report. Here, panelists drove home the policy, infrastructure, and technological challenges keeping companies from being able to provide truly accessible service for all.

The next stop on LSA 44 tour was the Southwest Research Institute on the city’s west side for a panel on the technology needed to make our energy infrastructure more sustainable. Participants heard from Adam L. Hamilton, President and CEO of SwRi; as well as Timothy S. Martin, SwRi Executive Director; Christopher J. Chadwell, SwRi Assistant Director; Thomas E. Briggs, SwRi Staff Engineer; Bapiraju Surampudi, SwRi Staff Engineer; Timothy C. Allison, SwRi Manager; and Mickey E. Argo, SwRi Assistant Manager. LSAers also received a VIP tour of the SwRi battery lab, where they were able to see current research being conducted for CPS Energy.

From there, the tour bus headed to Hardberger Park where the class was personally greeted by none other than former Mayor Phil Hardberger, who was joined by Councilwoman Ana Sandoval. Class members were treated to a sustainable lunch provided by Mise Catering and a brief talk on food sustainability.  Next, Councilwoman Sandoval introduced a panel discussion on the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP).  The panel itself proved to be one of the most engaging parts of the day with Moderator Belinda Garza Hartwig, Vice President of Economic Development for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, facilitating a discussion between panelist that included: Douglas Melnick, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of San Antonio; Kimberly M. Britton, Chief Executive Officer for the EpiCenter New Energy Innovation Center; John Agather, Chairman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Chris Ashcraft, President of the South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable (STEER).

The CAAP panel was followed by an entertaining presentation by former Mayor Phil Hardberger on the history of Hardberger Park and the many sustainable aspects incorporated into the park design, including the soon to be built land bridge that will connect both sections of the park across Wurzbach Parkway.  Following his presentation, the class watched a brief video from Mayor Ron Nirenberg introducing the importance of ensuring that everyone has access to a park within a 10-minute walking distance. He then kicked off the geocache exercise that broke the class up into six different teams and sent them on a treasure hunt meant to help them explore the park and the 10-minute park challenge.

From Hardberger, the class headed to Rackspace to finish out the day. The class was broken up into three groups and given:

  1. A private tour of the Rackspace Network Operations Center (NOC) for cybersecurity,
  2. The opportunity to experience virtual reality visualization tools created by Overland Partners, an architecture firm, and Ractive, a cybersecurity firm, and
  3. A presentation on cybersecurity by Aaron Hackney, Principal Architect for Network Security at Rackspace.

The class also received an inspirational talk and photo opportunity with David Meredith, Rackspace Chief Operating Officer.

The VIP experience continued with a happy hour at The Factory that included a guest appearance from the Spurs Coyote, spirits from Devils River Whiskey and Seersucker Southern Style Gin, food from Kiolbassa and Smoke Downtown, and music by Michael Alanis. The tug of war between technology, sustainability and infrastructure was further emphasized with a good old-fashioned game of tug of war that determined the winners for the day.

Best of all, the day’s organizers infused technology into every aspect of the day, from the on-bus quizzes to a customized website ( to geocache at the park, technology was ever present.  The day closed out with a swag bag that encouraged LSA 44 class members to “Be Sustainable. Be Mindful. Be Engaged.” and emphasized sustainability with a reusable Rocketbook, a notepad that works with an app to digitally store handwritten notes, donated by DOCUmation.

The Sustainability, Infrastructure, and Technology Team, along with all of Leadership San Antonio Class 44, would like to thank all the speakers, sponsors, and in-kind support that helped make this event memorable!

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