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Trinity Alumni Changing the Face of San Antonio

Thursday, January 10, 2019

by Jeremy Gerlach

Since Trinity University first came to San Antonio in 1942, both the school and the city have burst onto the national scene.

Trinity has risen in the rankings to the top university in Texas, while San Antonio, the seventh-largest city in the U.S. with a population of 1.5 million, is set to pass 2 million people by 2040.

Now, see how Trinity’s alumni are changing the face of San Antonio through technology, startups, nonprofits, and charity.

Ron Nirenberg ’99

San Antonio Mayor

Ron NirenbergAs mayor, Nirenberg is shaping how San Antonio’s government approaches ethics, fair budgeting, and creating new jobs and housing in a city with a booming population.

As a District 8 councilman, his office worked with Trinity’s urban studies department in 2016 to conduct research that would help form the basis for the city’s new equity-based budgeting process in 2017. After rising to mayor, he enacted stricter reporting requirements for campaign contributions, and launched a housing task force that secured more than $17 million in new funding for affordable housing priorities in 2018.


April Ancira Thompson ’02

Vice President of Ancira Auto Group

April Ancira-ThompsonIn San Antonio, the Anciras and their car dealerships have been a household name for more than 40 years. But April Ancira Thompson, who rose to vice president of the company in 2007, has extended her marketing and business skills beyond the world of auto sales to empower nonprofits and charitable causes.

She has volunteered and provided leadership for dozens of drives, nonprofits, and charities. Most recently, she’s been a board member at the San Antonio Sports Foundation as well as the Brighton Center, which provides developmental services for disabled children, and she served as the 2017 chair of the San Antonio Parks foundation, which aims to enhance the city’s parks and improve quality of life for all citizens. Ancira also champions the ALS Association, has been inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame, and was welcomed as a new member of the Trinity University Board of Trustees in 2018.


Kevin Bergner ’79

President and CEO, Goodwill Industries

Kevin BergnerAt Goodwill, Bergner leads more than 1,400 employees in 24 Texas counties as part of a nonprofit that uses retail, contract services, employment, training, and education programs to change lives through the power of work.

A business administration major at Trinity, Bergner went on to serve in the U.S. Army for more than 30 years and was appointed special assistant to the president of the United States and also senior director on the National Security Council staff.

 


Yousef Kassim ’08

Founder and CEO, EasyExpunctions

Yousef KassimKassim’s company, EasyExpunctions, helps seal and expunge criminal records for citizens with certain minor offenses, helping them get their lives back on track.

Even misdemeanors can play a huge obstacle in clearing an employer’s background check. To make matters worse, the typical lawyer charges a pricey fee for an expunction, which can also be time-consuming. Kassim’s company offers the service at a fraction of the cost of a lawyer and uses a unique, automated system that speeds up the process.

In September, EasyExpunctions finalized a partnership with Bergner and Goodwill Industries. Goodwill will use a specialized version of Kassim’s product to annually help more than 18,000 local job-seekers figure out whether they’re eligible for an expunction.


Dirk Elmendorf ’97 | Pat Condon ’97

Rackspace, Brokerage Engine, Active Capital

Dirk Elmendorf ’97 Pat Condon ’97Founding members of cloud computing giant Rackspace, Elmendorf and Condon spent the past 20 years positioning the company at the forefront of San Antonio’s booming tech and startup scene.

Elmendorf, an economics major at Trinity, and Condon, a business major, have also focused on improving San Antonio beyond Rackspace. While Condon acts as a mentor to rising area entrepreneurs through several international venture firms, Elmendorf is involved with math and science education at UTSA, has served as vice chairman of the Witte Museum, and spends time on nonprofits related to technology, kids, and improving downtown San Antonio.


Omar Akhil ’00, '01

Brainiacs, Vaulkshire Investment Advisors

Omar Akhil ’00, '01Akhil runs private wealth management firm Vaulkshire by day, and educational mentoring program Brainiacs on nights and weekends.

Brainiacs started as a revolutionary at-home mentoring system for students with learning disabilities and has expanded to provide SAT/ACT test prep and other challenging material for K-12 students of all levels. Akhil oversees a team of about 20 mentors, who all work one-on-one with students to drive learning through understanding and comprehension, not memorization.

Akhil is also married to fellow Trinity entrepreneur Lyn Swoboda Akhil ’06, co-creator of Cookie Cab.


Uchennaya Ogba ’11

Co-founder, BethanyEast PR and Management Consulting

Uchennaya OgbaOgba, along with co-founder and wife Christian Reed-Ogba, runs BethanyEast, the city’s first Black-owned PR firm.

BethanyEast, billed as a fresh, urban, and content-driven firm, was founded on the city’s East Side. After undergoing a rebranding in 2018, the business is now based on the West Side, and uses media relations and digital marketing strategies that focus on inbound marketing through cloud computing and new media to increase processes and efficiency.

 


Mitch Hagney ’13

Hydroponic farmer, LocalSprout CEO

Mitch HagneyHagney is an “agripreneur” who’s changing the way San Antonians use urban space to grow and farm food. At LocalSprout, he farms greens and herbs, selling them to restaurants, farmer’s markets, and wholesalers. Hagney also works with area restaurants to install edible landscaping gardens of their own.

At Trinity, Hagney was an international studies major and president of Students Organized for Sustainability. To date, he still carries a passion for pushing the boundaries of sustainable agriculture, technology, urban space, and culture.


Bo DePeña ’81

President and CEO, Fidelity Partners

Bo DePeñaDePeña’s firm provides medical, technology and logistics contract support services to the US Department of Defense.

DePeña also serves on the board of Mission Transition, a nonprofit initiative committed to helping wounded warriors overcome PTSD, and to heal and strengthen their bond with their and their families.

At Trinity, DePeña was a marketing and finance double major, and a member of Chi Delta Tau fraternity.

 


Louise Locker ’71

Elf Louise Christmas Project founder

Louise LockerIn 1969, Locker went to a San Antonio post office and took home local children’s letters to Santa, determined to make their Christmas wishes come true. Locker would go on to create the Elf Louise Christmas Project, a wildly successful charity that’s delivered toys to more than a million kids over the past 50 years.

At its heart, Locker says Elf Louise changes the world’s “perception of the potential for goodness.”

At Trinity, Locker was a sociology major who volunteered with TUVAC. She’s also enjoyed a career as a psychotherapist, nonprofit collaborator, and life coach.


Sheridan Chambers ’97 | Dan Cornell ’98 | John Dickson ’95

Partners, The Denim Group

Sheridan Chambers ’97 | Dan Cornell ’98 | John Dickson ’95Through tech firm the Denim Group, Cornell, Chambers and Dickson are aiming to build a world where technology can be trusted.

Their company helps clients develop resilient new software that can withstand sophisticated attacks, and they do it “as fast as you can write new code,” according to their website. Based right here in S.A., the Denim Group is changing the roadmap for industry-wide software development practices. They recently won the 2018 Daryl Waldron Business Leadership Award, established by Trinity University’s Department of Business Administration.


Harry “Bud” Holzman ’74

Geologist, Pilot, U.S. Army Veteran

Harry “Bud” HolzmanHolzman was a decorated Vietnam helicopter and fighter pilot before he ever arrived at Trinity, where he studied geology. After a long career in oil, he returned to the military during the Second Gulf war and used his passion for energy to help restore power to millions of Iraqis by bringing damaged oilfields back online.

Holzman, who served as a counterintelligence chief analyst during the war, also signed the arrest warrant for Saddam Hussein himself. Holzman’s 41-year military career ended with honors including the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, Bronze Star, 40 Air Medals, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, among others.

In San Antonio, he continues his passion for energy and geology as a consultant with Thunder Exploration.


Shari Albright ’83, ’86

President, Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation

Shari AlbrightAfter more than seven years as Trinity’s education chair, Albright is now the president of Raise Your Hand Texas, leading a statewide organization that advocates the improvement of public schools in Texas.

At Raise Your Hand Texas, Albright supports initiatives to identify, pilot, and scale systemic improvements in public education for more than 5.3 million Texas students. The foundation has partnered with Trinity recently, providing nine Masters of Arts in Teaching students with Charles Butt Scholarships for Aspiring Teachers.


John Burnam ’10

Co-founder and principal, Burnam | Gray

John BurnamBurnam is a consultant dedicated to helping local nonprofits build stronger communities. At  Burnam | Gray, a social impact and nonprofit consulting firm, he helps rising nonprofits break onto the scene, scale up, and reinvent themselves.

Burnam | Gray has played a role in developing organizations ranging from the Thrive Youth Center, Texas Infectious Disease Readiness, and the Nonprofit Council and San Antonio Area Foundation’s Big Give campaign.

 


Peter French ’98

CEO, RisingBarn, and  Director of Development, GrayStreet Partners

Peter FrenchFrench is an entrepreneur and community builder.

At GrayStreet Partners, French has been tasked with coordinating a much-anticipated 23-acre redevelopment off Broadway Street near the Pearl.

As the CEO of Rising Barn, PBC, a San Antonio-based design-build shop, he produces thoughtful and sustainable buildings and homes for a wide variety of uses.

 


Mark Larson ’97, ’98, ’02

CEO and founder, KIPP Aspire Academy

Mark Larson Larson is an innovator in education, founding the wildly popular KIPP Aspire Academy in San Antonio. A vocal spokesperson for educational reform across the city and state, Larson has risen to CEO of the KIPP San Antonio network of college preparatory schools. Here, he aims to help the San Antonio community change the landscape of inner-city education.