CENTRO
SAN ANTONIO

CENTRO
SAN ANTONIO

ANNUAL REPORT
2020-2021

A Letter From Our CEO

A Letter From Our CEO

2020 and 2021 have been turbulent and life-changing to say the least. Like many of you, we have had to adapt in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. When the pandemic first took hold, we amended our operations and staff protocols in order to ensure the health and safety of our personnel as well as the entire Downtown district. Downtown has never been cleaner or safer.

Then, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th, 2020 sparked nationwide protests calling for social justice and equity reforms. We were proud to stand with our community in peaceful protest, including funding the street mural surrounding Travis Park inspired by Vocab Sanderson, our poet laureate. We looked inward at our makeup and began redesigning our organization to more accurately reflect the community we serve. The calls for social justice manifested in all aspects of our events and programming, raising the voices of local BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people.

In Spring of 2020, we launched our new Main Street Business program to preserve and empower local businesses downtown in the face of unprecedented economic hardship. We have connected with over 3,000 businesses and helped hundreds get connected to resources from PPE to loans.

During the 2020 holiday season, we partnered with Hemisfair for the wildly successful drive through experience and had our biggest media win with our month-long surprise snow flurries around downtown.

Throughout these past 2 years, we have continued to be a leader in homeless assistance. As a highlight, just prior to the deep freeze, we got 65 people into shelter and safety. That’s at least 12x more than normal.

In 2021, we expanded our winning programs such as

Art Everywhere: 19 new murals up around downtown all by local artists

Landscaping: deployed all beautiful, new, professionally designed planting program and layout

Main Street: Provide $440K in small business grants funded by Midtown and Houston St TIRZ

Marketing Downtown: From $500K to over $4MM in earned media from 2019 to 2021, we are significantly expanding our reach in promoting all things great about living, playing and working downtown

And launched a few more such as

2022 Bond Advocacy: We pulled together 25 amazing individuals led by tri-chairs Pete Cortez, Rene Garcia and Veronica Mendez who led a thorough process to identify, prioritize and advocate for critical, high-impact projects for the 2022 Bond as well as various TIRZ funding. To date, TIRZ boards have approved all requests.

Peacock Alley: New urban place-making location that was a major community, small business and media hit that is now being activated all year long under our management

Alliance Membership: We’ve re-imagined the Alliance Membership Program around the shared passion for creating a thriving urban ecosystem & shaping the future of San Antonio! Discover more at centrosanantonio.org/membership. Our first community event, In the Mix exceeded expectation & ushered in a new era for downtown networking.

In the report below, you will see our impact described and measured. There is no way, however, to properly measure the outpouring of support and collaboration we have enjoyed from the community. Thank you for encouraging us to do the work that we do!

Matt Brown, CEO

2020 will be a year we won’t soon forget.

Like many of you, we have had to adapt in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. As local public health orders went into effect in mid-March, we amended our operations and staff protocols in order to ensure the health and safety of our personnel as well as the entire downtown district. Our team pivoted to connecting local businesses with much-needed resources and assistance.

The senseless killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25th, 2020, sparked nationwide protests calling for long- overdue reforms to the criminal justice system. We were proud to stand with our community in peaceful protest. We looked inward at our makeup and began redesigning our organization to reflect the community we serve.

There is no doubt that 2020 has brought its fair share of challenges, but we have learned how our Downtown may grow and thrive in this unfamiliar moment in responding to these challenges. Our new disinfecting protocols have resulted in a district that is cleaner than it has ever been. The calls for social justice manifested in our public art projects and virtual programming, raising the voices of local BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people. We launched our new Main Street Business program to preserve and empower local businesses downtown in the face of unprecedented economic hardship.

Challenging times have a way of revealing what is truly important. We move forward from 2020, affirmed in the belief that, together with our community, we can create a prosperous and welcoming downtown for all of San Antonio to call home.

In 2021, we have premiered programming which is both safe and inspiring. We have expanded the impact and scope of the marquee initiatives born in 2020 including Art Everywhere, Main Street Business, and Urban Activation. We are preparing to re-launch our membership program to build community and support for our initiatives. In the report below, you will see our impact described and measured. There is no way, however, to properly measure the outpouring of support and collaboration we have enjoyed from the community. We remain committed to you.

Matt Brown, CEO

Why We Exist

To create a beautiful, welcoming, playful, and prosperous downtown in the spirit of San Antonio.

Our Guiding Principles

Community

Devoted to serving, reflecting, and building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

Courage

Demonstrate passion, bravery, and commitment to do the right thing. Be vulnerable and learn from our missteps.

Creativity

Be curious. Be outrageously imaginative problem-solvers and playmakers.

Empathy

Listen with an open heart. Treat everyone with care, kindness, and respect.

Dedication

Be pragmatic, tenacious, and intentional in our work and effort.

What’s the PID?

The Public Improvement District is a 
.8 square mile area in downtown San Antonio. Property owners within this District pay a self-assessed tax based on their property values, which funds Centro’s services, including- but not limited to- maintenance, landscaping, hospitality, homeless outreach, marketing + events, and public art.

What’s the PID?

The Public Improvement District is a 
.8 square mile area in downtown San Antonio. Property owners within this District pay a self-assessed tax based on their property values, which funds Centro’s services, including- but not limited to- maintenance, landscaping, hospitality, homeless outreach, marketing + events, and public art.
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MATT BROWN

PRESIDENT AND CEO

Matt is the lucky guy that gets to lead a team of passionate placemakers who work every day to make downtown San Antonio more beautiful, playful, prosperous, and welcoming. Since starting his career as an attorney, Matt accumulated 25+ years’ worth of experience in the private sector by founding play and creative companies; consulting for start-ups and Fortune 500s in strategy, innovation, and leadership; and serving as president and C-level executive for Scholastic, Klutz and LeapFrog, among others. Directly prior to moving to San Antonio, he was the Economic Development Director and Interim Land Use Director for Santa Fe, NM.  He and his daughter have visited 15 state capitals on their way to all 50! 

Elizabeth Burt

DIRECTOR OF URBAN ACTIVATION + PLAY

Liz is a passionate underutilized space evangelist known for collaboration matchmaking + play based troublemaking (snow, pumpkins, and Parisian mimes included). She graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Public Policy studying Public Administration (#BirdsUp)! More recently, she oversaw the award winning Activate Houston Street Initiative, a placemaking action plan to reinvigorate the historic pedestrian corridor in the heart of Downtown, which is recognized as a Best Practice in Public Space Management by the International Downtown Association, for which she is also a proud Emerging Leader Fellow.

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Connie Garza

TACTICAL PLANNING COORDINATOR

Connie is a native San Antonian with roots planted deeply on San Antonio’s Southside. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Passionate about building strong communities, Connie loves acting as a connector to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and people to help each other reach their goals and work together. She works inbetween the Cultural Placemaking team and the Mainstreet Economic Development team, bringing vibrancy and support to urban core businesses to make downtown the place to be. When not at work, you can usually find her at the local plant nursery buying another plant, exploring new cafes/breweries, and spending time with family.

Laura Aldrich

MEMBERSHIP & STORY CATALYST

Laura (She/Her) has a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin where she fostered a deep love for communication, critical theory, & experiential spaces. Her heart lies in community, communication, & creative spaces for connection & collaboration.

She’s found much of her life’s direction in sharing her love for fitness & yoga alongside her deeply lived passion for social equity & women’s equality.

Laura has years of experience in developing & carrying out creative, strategic project management, marketing & membership-based sales as well as large-scale events & leadership training.

Outside of work she can often be found biking downtown with friends, adventuring with her sweet pup on the Greenway & casually perusing the cheese aisle at Central Market. She finds simple pleasures in unexpected live music, mochi, freshly bought pairs of matching socks & toppling the patriarchy.

Priscilla Lopez

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

Priscilla or “P.Lo” as her teammates affectionately call her, has 20 years of corporate administrative experience. Priscilla attended The University of San Antonio with a focus on Business Administration. In her role as office “fixer,” she handles everything from communications and relationship management to IT sleuthing. On weekends you can find her enjoying a Truly poolside. She lives the vegan lifestyle and is  a proud member of the Peleton community.

Jacqueline Lucio

DIRECTOR OF PID OPERATIONS

Jacque is a longtime downtowner with a deep passion for community service. She oversees Centro’s Clean & Safe and Homeless Outreach services, which aim to create a more beautiful, welcoming, inclusive, and hospitable downtown. For nearly two decades, Jacque has lived in downtown San Antonio and has been actively involved in the transformation of the urban core. Through her work with nonprofits, local government, and news media, she’s continually focused on championing more sustainable, diverse, and equitable communities. Jacque has led efforts to support asylum seekers, served as communications director for City Council District 5, and served in public affairs role for Clear Channel Outdoor San Antonio. Jacque studied Mass Communications and Mexican-American Studies at UTSA.

Matt Sirgo

DIRECTOR OF STORYTELLING

Matt graduated from Texas Tech University in 2016 with a Dual Major in Media Strategies and Honors Arts & Letters with a minor in Italian (Benvenuto a tutti!). Matt oversees the marketing, public relations, and digital content for Centro. After sharing the story of Downtown San Antonio on digital channels, he enjoys creating TikToks about LGBTQ+ media. His mug graces a Fiesta Mural on the St. Mary’s Strip just north of Downtown. You can’t miss it. 

Andi Rodriguez

VICE PRESIDENT OF CULTURAL PLACEMAKING

Andi is a long-time urban champion and leads Centro ‘people projects which tell our stories and bring us joy, such as Centro’s Art Everywhere and Zona Cultural. Serving on the Leadership Council of Urban Land Institute, she is a former city Planning Commissioner, Founding Chair of the Hemisfair Conservancy, Co-founder of Power of Preservation/PROM, former Chair of the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women and immediate past Chair of Leadership San Antonio. Andi considers herself a servant leader; she has an MS in Architecture/Urban Planning, and enjoys advocating for the unifying power of art, history, and public space.

Jakob Villareal

STAFF GRANT WRITER

Currently studying for a B.A. in English at A&M San Antonio and Majoring in Writing & Rhetoric, Jakob is a key player in securing additional funding for Centro’s many projects and initiatives. Jakob acts as a matchmaking service for Centro’s projects and Initiatives. Using his intimate knowledge of our goals and ideals, he seeks to find the perfect match of project and potential funding organization. When he’s not busy fundraising Jakob also fills the roll of Game Master, host the team’s various gettogethers and keeping the party going with games galore. He spends his free time painting miniatures, and is an avid Dungeons and Dragons & Table Top RPG enthusiast.

JanIe Garza

OFFICE MANAGER

Janie is a native of Corpus Christi, TX and has made San Antonio her home since 2012. Her 15+ years’ experience allows her to serve a broad range of functions that allow the organization to operate efficiently, including, accounts receivable/payable, record management, information technology, office management, and assisting with human resources. Outside of the office she enjoys spending time with her family, visiting local art museums, and enjoying a German beer in Southtown.

Michael Cirlos

JEDI CAMERAMAN

Michael began his studies and volunteer work at Webster University Thailand with a focus on international relations and Buddhism. After returning to San Antonio and graduating from UTSA, Michael began photographing and telling the stories of people in Downtown San Antonio to help connect and increase awareness of our vibrant urban culture. Michael’s work has appeared in several news media organizations, and has produced digital content for small- and large-scale marketing campaigns for Red Bull, COSA Department of Arts and Culture, World Heritage Office, National Park Service, and others. Michael is a former Pecha Kucha San Antonio Speaker, best-selling author at Trinity University Press, entrepreneur, and adventurer.

Sarah Esserlieu

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

Sarah is a passionate urbanist who has spent the majority of her career on downtown revitalization efforts. Downtown is the best part of any city where you can find the finest history, culture, life, and beauty. Sarah has a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of California, San DiegoSarah enjoys visiting small local businesses, enjoying foodie culture, cooking, hiking, and visiting the cities of the world. 

KANDICE PERKINS

FINANCIAL DIRECTOR

Kandice is a Sunnyvale, CA native and has made San Antonio her home since 2014She graduated from University of Argosy in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and continued to complete her Master’s in Business Administration from University of Phoenix 2020. She has worked in downtown San Antonio for years, bringing 15+ years of accounting experience to the organization and has been tasked with promoting and developing the city’s urban core. When not at the office, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, managing her family’s businesses, and enjoys cooking and baking.  

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs 

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