Board of Directors 

 

Jo Ann Andera - Chair 

JoAnn Andera is the Director of the Institute of Texan Culture’s signature events, including the Texas Folklife Festival, which she has director for over 30 years, and the Asian Festival. An exemplary events planner, Andera has earned “Professional of the Year” and “Lifetime Achievement” honors from the Texas Festivals Association. She is a past Board Chair of the International Festivals Association and a member of the organization’s Presidents Council. Jo Ann has worked for UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures since 1970. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a Certified Festival Executive from the International Festivals Association and the Institutional Management Institute at Purdue University.

Betsy I. Cameron - Immediate Past Chair 

For over 20 years, Betsy Cameron has worked to promote and support international business, education and relationship opportunities in San Antonio. Her experience includes twelve years with the City of San Antonio International Affairs Department where she oversaw the award-winning San Antonio Export Leaders Program and managed San Antonio’s three foreign trade offices in Mexico, coordinating incoming and outgoing trade missions, and participating in other international business and government relations initiatives.Betsy has also worked with the Camino Real District Export Council where she implemented the Export Fellows Program at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio and the World Affairs Council of San Antonio.Originally from Panama, Betsy received her Bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech in Atlanta and a Master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. She also holds the NASBITE International Global Business Professional certification.

Marcos Fragoso - Vice Chair 

Marcos Fragoso has served as the Vice President for International Affairs at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) since 2010. Previously, he oversaw operations at the UIW campus in Mexico. He has a Master of Business Administration in International Business and a Bachelor of Business Administration from UIW. Marcos is responsible for international initiatives including reciprocal agreements for education, study abroad programs, the management of UIW campuses in Mexico, and Heidelberg, Germany as well as the management of the Rosenberg Sky Room, and the International Conference Center.

Justin Rice - Secretary

Justin Rice is an in-house attorney with The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit headquartered in Washington D.C. whose mission is to preserve plants, animals, and natural communities in the U.S. and abroad by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Justin has spent considerable time in Latin America (including managing a fishing lodge in the Yucatan) and was a Rotary Ambassadorial Graduate Scholar at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City focusing on Mexican foreign policy. Justin grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, received his law degree from the University of Texas and conducts admission interviews for his undergrad alma mater, Rice University. Justin joined SACIV in 2000 and also serves on the board of the World Affairs Council.

Chuck Rose - Treasurer

Chuck Rose is a retired US Army Officer. He served in Europe, Asia and numerous countries throughout Central and South America.  After the Army, Chuck established and managed Ryder Systems’ Cross-Border Operations along the US/Mexico border, and a Foreign Trade Zone operation at Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio. Working at the corporate headquarters of Compaq & Hewlett Packard Computer Companies, he was responsible for the coordination and negotiations of 3rd Party Logistics/Transportation contracts world-wide. His last position was CEO/President of SyncStrat Logistics Solutions, a supply-chain management company. Chuck is a graduate of the San Antonio Masters Leadership Program and is actively serving on nonprofit boards in San Antonio. He received a BA in International Affairs, International Law, and Political Science from Florida State University. He has an MA in Industrial Management from Webster University, and a MS in Military Strategic Studies and Theory-Strategy from the US Army War College. 

Irma Reyes - Chair Emeritus & Founder 

Irma Reyes' contribution to citizen diplomacy began in 1971 when as a Scout leader she coordinated Scouting exchanges between Mexico and San Antonio. Her formal citizen diplomacy work began in 1977 as a volunteer for the Visitor's program. In 1989 she was one of the founders of the San Antonio Council for International Visitors. Since its inception, Irma's tireless efforts and contagious smile have welcomed thousands of U.S. Department of State's international visitors to San Antonio. In addition to providing many opportunities for cultural and business exchanges, Irma's efforts are an example of excellence in citizen diplomacy. Many of the visitors still remain in contact with Irma today. She has been active with many community organizations including Catholic Charities, Refugee Resettlement, and the Women’s and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Free Trade Alliance, the City of San Antonio's Zoning Commission and Cable Advisory Board. Irma is one of the three founders of SACIV.

Dr. Angelika Jansen-Brown

Dr. Angelika Jansen-Brown has worn many hats in her professional life – but always in relation to citizen diplomacy. Her work started 30 years ago in New York City when she helped build an institute at the German Department of New York University that had a sole purpose – bringing Americans and Germans together through learning the German language and exchanging cultural programs. In San Antonio, Angelika launched the Jansen-Perez Galleries, opening communication channels via visual art with Mexico and San Antonio. This work triggered cooperation with Monterrey and The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Angelika is on several cultural and educational boards and has coordinated numerous artist exchange programs for the City of San Antonio. Her most recent endeavor is serving as the San Antonio-Dresden Alliance Coordinator, a partnership inaugurated in February 2009. In 2010 she also helped create an Alliance with UTSA and the Technical University in Berlin, Germany. Angelika has been a member of SACIV since 1991 and has hosted many international visitors.

Sandra Torres Richardson  

Sandra Richardson has been an active participant in two communities (Dallas and San Antonio) in the last 18 years.  As a Board Member, Liaison, consultant & mentor she supports education, international, social, civic & environmental initiatives.  She is currently the Founder of Women 2 Women Empowerment a leadership program she established in 2015 at the George W. Bush institute. The program is designed to promote young women to be highly effective professional & civic leaders in today's diverse communities.  She was the first Director of Operations for the North American Development Bank in 1993.   She also participated in the establishment of the Free Trade Alliance during its infancy stage.  Sandra has also served on the Board of the Child Guidance Center, now known as Clarity Guidance Center for 3 years in an effort to support the expansion of their psychological services to the South Texas region. As a primary consultant, she secured initial funding for TEEX to establish the Frank M. Tejeda Center for Environmental Excellence in cooperation with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Sandra holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from St. Mary's University and a Bachelors of Arts in Education from University of Texas San Antonio.

Patricia O'Connell  

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, where she spent her early years, Patricia migrated to San Antonio from Mexico. After studying at Marymount Junior College, now Marymount University, in Arlington, Virginia, she enrolled in the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. For the next twenty–three years she lived and worked in Central and Northern Mexico. In fall of 1974, she accepted a position at the UNAM Extension Campus in San Antonio as sub-director, and moved to San Antonio with her family. In December of 1975, she was named to the newly created position of Director of International Relations and Marketing for the City of San Antonio, working with the newly formed San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau.  When she accepted a position as marketing director for a French hotel corporation, she relocated to Houston and was in Houston over 5 years working with various national and international hotel chains. Upon returning to San Antonio she was hired to design and implement a week-long festival in downtown San Antonio.  Later she became Director of Congregational Development for the The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. After that she established herself as an independent consultant outsourcing her services in many areas of expertise. Patricia continues to work and be actively involved in the community. She has been involved in the development of the SACIV since its inception. Patricia is the mother of six, grandmother of thirteen and great grandmother of eleven, which she considers to be her greatest achievement.

 

 

 

Christopher Herring  

Christopher Herring is the Executive Director for Global Chamber® San Antonio.  He is a decorated combat veteran of the United States Air Force serving his nation as a commissioned officer for over 20 years.  He is President and CEO of River Walk Publishing, LLC, Vice President of New Horizons School, LLC, and a business partner of Legendary Realty focusing on commercial real estate for US and international businesses looking to expand their operations in Texas. Mr. Herring was twice elected and is serving in his last term as the Chairman of the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce (TAAACC), where he advocates for over 250,000 businesses and 24 chambers of commerce to help them succeed. Since 2011, Christopher has served three mayors as the Mayor of San Antonio's appointee to the Small Business Advocacy Committee (SBAC) overseeing the Small Business Economic Development Advocacy (SBEDA) Program subcontracting goals. Over two year period with University of Texas Austin, Mr.Herring sponsored 50 African business leaders, from 35 different nations, to San Antonio showcasing an international city made up of high-impact businesses, organizations, and government entities.   He is a Board and Marketing Committee member for the San Antonio Symphony, Board President for Bluffview Estates of Camino Real, and Editorial Board Chairman for the San Antonio Observer Newspaper.

Shahrzad Dowlatshahi

Ms. Dowlatshahi is Chief Diplomacy & Protocol Officer heading the City of San Antonio’s International Relations Office. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Westminster in London, England and then completed her graduate degree in the University of Cambridge in England. She also studied at the Alexandria University, Egypt and the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. As Head of the City's International Relations Office, she advises, assists and supports San Antonio elected officials and executives on matters of international affairs and diplomatic procedure; is responsible for providing assistance in international travel as well as planning visits and welcoming high-level foreign dignitaries and diplomats to the City of San Antonio; oversees the San Antonio program of official relationships namely Sister and Friendship Cities; and oversees the Casa San Antonio program in Mexico. Ms Dowlatshahi currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, the San Antonio Mexico Friendship Council, and the Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, she serves on advisory boards of Musical Bridges Around the World and University of Texas Health in San Antonio’s International Relations Committee. She is enthusiastic about raising San Antonio’s global profile and citizen awareness about opportunities for mutual enrichment.

Louise Mandel

Ms. Mandel has always been an engaged global citizen. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Spanish, she put her language skills to work in Mexico helping global businesses like Ford Motor Company, Chrysler de Mexico, Mellon Bank, and Babcock and Wilcox acculturate their senior executives and families for life in Mexico. She also developed curricula and tailored instruction for Mexican National managers to prepare them for business with their U.S. counterparts. In 1980, Ms. Mandel moved back to the United States and began conducting market research for Mexican exporters, creating a marketing plan for U.S. sales to Mexican firms, and helped pioneer The Entrepreneurship Development Program at the UTSA Business Development Center. During this time, she earned a Master of Business Administration before going on to teach International Marketing at the University of the Incarnate Word. Ms. Mandel along with business partners developed University Park, a northwest side 282- acre business and industrial development, where she served as Operations Manager, and liaison between Developers and University Park business owners. Now, she is very active in the San Antonio community serving in the San Antonio Business and Economic Society, the Masters Leadership Program, Mays Cancer Center Board of Governors, and the San Antonio Council for International Visitors. 

 

Ann Nguyen

Ann Nguyen is an international trade & foreign direct investment consultant with 13 years of extensive professional experience in public and private sector. She provides the consulting services for global expansion of the Southeast Asian companies to the U.S and the U.S companies seeking expansion to Vietnam. Previously, Ann provided market research, business development, and capital mobilization consulting services to companies operating in Vietnam. Before entering the private sector, Ann worked for the U.S Embassy in Vietnam and encouraged foreign direct investment in Vietnam as the head of international cooperation for a local government, where she developed foreign investment guidelines and conducted investment project preparation. Ann has received multiple awards by the Vietnamese provincial government as well as by the U.S Ambassador to Vietnam for her contribution to investment promotion of Vietnam and U.S- Vietnam bilateral cooperation. Fluent in both English and Vietnamese, Ann earned bachelor’s degrees in English and business administration in Vietnam and currently completing her MBA at University of Business and International Studies University in Geneva, Switzerland Besides, as a professional master of ceremony (M.C.), she has facilitated hundreds of international and local conferences in business and other industries, all prominent and well-attended events in Vietnam. She is keen on exploring multi-cultures, connecting the dots globally and foster cultural understanding.  

Emeritus Board

Sarwat Husain

Sarwat Husain is the founder and president of the Council on American Islamic Relations-San Antonio (CAIR-SA), a chapter of the largest civil rights and advocacy organization for Muslims in the US and Canada, headquartered in Washington DC. She also serves on CAIR’s national board. Sarwat is a frequent lecturer and presenter on inter-religious dialogue, and is a founding member of the American Muslim Democratic Caucus and former president of the Texas Muslim Democratic Caucus. She serves as as a guest columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, is a member of UT Health Science Center’s Council for Excellence in Women’s Health, and is the founder of Al-Ittihaad News.

Jose Luis Garcia 

José Luis García currently serves as the City of San Antonio’s Aviation Marketing Manager for the San Antonio Airport promoting international growth in commercial and general air service. José Luis previously served as Chief of Protocol for the City of San Antonio and as director of the City’s International Relations Office. In these roles, he helped program the visits of over 1,500 delegations to San Antonio. Key projects under his supervision included the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip; Presidents of Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Poland, and Spain, among others. José Luis also served as the City’s liaison to the NAFTA signing ceremony, Latin America Anti-Drug Summit, and the Trilateral Technology Summits (2002-2005.) José Luis serves as an Honorary Board Member for Sister Cities International and has served on the boards of the San Antonio-Mexico Friendship Council, and the National Protocol Officers Association in Washington, D.C. His honors include decoration of the Orden de Isabel la Católica, en grado Cruz de Oficial bestowed by the Government of Spain; recipient of SACIV International Leadership Award; Consulate of Mexico-Award for Outstanding Service in U.S.-Mexico relations and recognition by the Federation of Mexican Communities Living Abroad.

Mary Stanton Walsh

Mary Stanton Walsh is a retired professional and currently serves on several community boards. Originally from Laredo, she managed several international travel agencies there. With a B.A. degree in design, Mary created and successfully marketed clothing designs in the 1960s. She and her husband Michael Walsh (former air attaché to Rangoon, Burma), have traveled extensively both domestically and internationally. Mary is very active in the community and is one of the founding members of both SACIV and C-Fire, a non-profit organization that supports fire departments at the local and state levels.

Cav. Francesco Cristadoro 

Cav. Francesco Cristadoro has been Consular correspondent of Italy from 1981 to present, in the promotion and development of activities between Italy and the United States. Cav. Francesco Cristadoro received his Masters of Science in Electronics Engineering Specialization in Nuclear Physics and Management from the University "La Sapienza" in Rome, Italy. He has been engaged in professional positions involving systems engineering and consulting for major engineering and governmental entities, including the US Air Force. He is heavily engaged in community activities and in 1991 received from the President of Italy, the title of Knight to The Order of the Republic of Italy. Cav. Cristadoro joined SACIV in 1999 and is the former President of Christopher Columbus Italian Society.

Dr. Bernard "Ben" Buecker   

Ben Buecker's contribution to citizen diplomacy began in the late 1970’s as a Fulbright scholar at University of Heidelberg Faculty of Law. During the 1980s his efforts resulted in the Distinguished Service Cross (Federal Republic of Germany) and the German American Friendship Award. Ben's work continued into the 1990’s and the twenty-first century. In 2003 and 2008, he received the Award of Merit from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for Outstanding Commitment to the Protection of Children and Knowledge of Hague International Child Abduction Issues. In 2010, the government of Germany awarded him the German Service Cross, First Class.  Ben remains active in citizen diplomacy and is the founder and chairman of the San Antonio - German Sister City Association in addition to serving as Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany. Ben has been a member of SACIV since 1990, serving in a variety of board positions with the organization.