This story was originally published by San Antonio Report and can be found here.
The turning of the calendar brought a turn in leadership to the San Antonio Report’s board of directors. A.J. Rodriguez ascended to board chairman late last month, after John “Chico” Newman Jr. stepped down from that position and the board after more than five years.
The changes went into effect at the board’s Jan. 25 meeting.
Rodriguez joined the board in 2020, after briefly serving on the San Antonio Report’s Board of Community Advisors. Founding Vice Chair Newman, who served as chairman for a year, decided to retire from the board because he believes the organization needs a fresh set of eyes. Newman served on the board since its inception, when the San Antonio Report, founded in 2012, reorganized as a nonprofit in 2016.
The change in board leadership comes three months after the board named Angie Mock publisher and CEO of the nonprofit news organization, replacing co-founder Robert Rivard, who continues to serve as editor and lead columnist. Mock previously served as CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio and had been a member of the San Antonio Report’s board since 2018.
“We are deeply grateful for Chico’s vision, dedication, and passion that led us from a blog to a thriving nonprofit news organization,” Mock said. “Equally, I’m excited about what the future holds with A.J.’s leadership. A.J. brings a wealth of nonprofit success and strategic vision to the San Antonio Report.”
Rodriguez joined the nonprofit Texas 2036 in September 2020 as the executive vice president. Texas 2036 is a nonpartisan organization that provides research-based solutions to make Texas a better place for all residents by the state’s bicentennial. Before that, he served as vice president of external affairs and on the executive leadership team of Zachry Group, a privately held construction and engineering business. Rodriguez also served as the deputy city manager for the City of San Antonio from 2008 to 2011.
This experience makes Rodriguez the best fit to lead the board of directors as the San Antonio Report continues to evolve, Newman said.
“He is the right person at the right time,” Newman said. “You really can’t be any better than the leadership of an organization. With the combination of Angie and A.J., the San Antonio Report has outstanding leadership.”
A longtime fan of the San Antonio Report, Rodriguez said he joined the Board of Community Advisors and then the board of directors because he truly believes in the organization’s mission.
“I’ve felt compelled to participate in any way I could to support the mission of the organization,” he said.
Retired SBC Southwestern Bell President Wayne Alexander is the vice chair and treasurer of the board, while San Antonio Report founder and Editor Rivard serves as secretary. Other board directors include Teach for America Chief People Officer Laura Saldivar Luna, attorney Brian Steward, former Rackspace Community Affairs Director Cara Nichols, and Dr. Erika Gonzalez, CEO, president, and co-founder of South Texas Allergy and Asthma Professionals. Kate Rogers, a longtime H-E-B executive and the former vice president of community outreach and engagement for the Charles Butt Foundation, rounds out the eight-member board.
As the new board chairman, Rodriguez said he wants to serve as a resource for the organization, to help grow and develop the San Antonio Report at “an increasingly rapid rate,” and to maintain the high standards of journalism it upholds. He also said he is excited to work with Mock as she carries the organization forward under her leadership.
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” Rodriguez said.
Looking back over the past five years, Newman said he could not agree more. If someone had told him five years ago that the San Antonio Report would be where it is today, he would have said that was “aspirational.”
“For a small group, we punch way above our weight,” he said.
Newman has watched the organization evolve from just a handful of people to a staff of 20, from a small startup to a professional organization. He said the shifts in leadership are part of the same evolution for the San Antonio Report and will help further its mission to build a more informed community.
“We should constantly be learning, evolving, and getting better – and we have,” he said. “The organization has come a long way in five and a half years.”