2017 Honorees

Jenna Saucedo-Herrera


Jenna Saucedo-Herrera joined the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) as president and chief executive officer in July, 2016. In this capacity, she is responsible for advancing the diversification and growth of the San Antonio regional economy through domestic and international business development, partnerships and market strategies. She also works in close partnership with the San Antonio Works board and executive team, an organizational component of the broader SAEDF operation, to develop career pathways and bring experiential learning opportunities to students and educators throughout San Antonio and Bexar County. Before joining SAEDF, Saucedo-Herrera served as Vice President of Public Affairs and Brand Management for CPS Energy where she led the economic development, corporate communications, marketing, and corporate responsibility functions for the organization. Saucedo-Herrera has received accolades including: the “2015 Women in Leadership Award” and the “2017 40 Under 40: Woman of the Year Award” from the San Antonio Business Journal, acknowledgement by the San Antonio Express News in their “2016 Women Who Run San Antonio” feature, and recognition in Culturemap’s “Top Texans Under 30”.

Gilbert Becerra, Jr.


Gilbert Becerra, Jr. joined Palo Alto College as the Vice President for Student Success on Sept. 14, 2015. Becerra, a former San Antonio resident, has over fourteen years of progressive student affairs experience with an expansive portfolio including enrollment management with various student populations such as first-time-in-college, transfer, international, and non-traditional. In his most recent role, Becerra served as Dean of Student Outreach and Enrollment Services since 2011 at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Becerra has a Bachelor of Arts in Government/Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. 

Diana Alcocer


Diana Alcocer is a member of Mexican American Texas Business Women of San Antonio, Inc. She currently serves as President. Diana has been a MATBW member for over 40 years. Her mother, Juanita C. Alcocer is also a member of MATBW making Diana a second-generation member. She has served in numerous officer positions at the local and District levels. Diana received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. She’s currently employed by the city of San Antonio as a Community Services Supervisor monitoring a group of Senior Nutrition Centers. She is a member of the Texas State Association of Parliamentarians - Bell Unit, the St. Mary's University Alumni Association and the Can We Talk...? Women's Coalition. 

Al Suarez


Mayor Al Suarez was born in San Antonio, Texas, a graduate of Brackenridge High School, served in the United States Air Force for 20 ½ years as an Air Traffic Controller & Security Specialist. He participated in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and currently employed with the Bexar County Criminal District Courts Adult Probation Department. Holds a Master’s of Arts degree in Criminal Justice Management & Administration, Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice & Corrections, Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology & Behavioral Management, Associate’s degree in Airway Science, and an Associate’s degree in Security Administration. Mayor Suarez was elected to the Converse City Council on May 6, 2006 and Mayor of Converse on May 5, 2007, re-elected to a 5th term as Mayor on November 3, 2015. He serves as Chairman of the Greater Bexar County Council of Cities, former Chairman of the Northeast Partnership for Economic Development, President of the Judson Education Foundation, Executive Board Member for the Bexar County Watershed Management Committee, Executive Board Member for Build San Antonio Green, JISD Bond Oversight Committee, Northeast Lakeview College President’s Search Committee and Randolph AFB Honorary Commander. Mayor Suarez is a member of the American Legion Post 593, VFW Post 8541, Alamo Honor Flight and St Monica’s Catholic Church. Married to wife Misty, son Alfred Jr., a 2015 graduate at the University of Texas at Austin and attending the University of Houston Law School. 

Dr. Felix Almaraz

Cultural Arts

Felix Almaraz earned his diploma from South San Antonio High School in 1952, an Associate of Arts degree from San Antonio College in 1957, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from St. Mary's University in 1959 and 1962, and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1968. Almaraz began teaching at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in 1973. He has been a professor of history with UTSA since 2009. Working in the History Department, Almaraz has taught classes on the Spanish Borderlands, Spanish Colonial Texas, Imperial Spain, Modern Spain, history of South Texas, Modern Texas history, and the cultural origins of San Antonio. Almaraz’s most recent honors include a 1994 President's Distinguished Achievement Award, an Excellence in Research award in 1988, and a Senior Fulbright Lectureship in the Republic of Argentina. He has published numerous books including Knight Without Armor: Carlos Eduardo Castaneda, 1896-1958 (Texas A&M University Press, 1999), Tragic Cavalier: Governor Manuel Salcedo of Texas, 1808-1813 (University of Texas Press, 1971), and Crossroad of Empire: The Church and State on the Rio Grande Frontier of Coahuila and Texas, 1700-1821 (UTSA Center for Archaeological Research, 1979). Almaraz taught at the Harlandale Independent School District from 1960 to 1964 before pursuing doctoral studies. While studying at the University of New Mexico in 1966, Almaraz was employed as a Historical Information Analyst for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Following his doctoral work, Almaraz held teaching positions at St. Mary's University, Pan American College (now The University of Texas--Pan American), and the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the UTSA faculty, Almaraz was the Director of the Bilingual Education Center of the South San Antonio Independent School District. 

Denise Rodriguez-Hernandez


Denise Rodriguez-Hernandez is the owner and partner of The Fruteria y Botanero and Tejas Steakhouse. She also works at the VP of Development for True Flavors Catering. With over 20 years’ experience in the food industry, Denise has worked with a wide range of companies marketing private-label brands, developing and implementing strategic business plans, manufacturing and leading substantial revenue and profit growth. 

 Denise is committed to helping her community and to do so she serves on the Board of Directors for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in 2014 helped form the very first Latin Leadership Institute program, and is the co-chair for the 2017 Leadership Committee. She served as a board member for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, was appointed by Mayor Ivy Taylor to the city’s CVB task force and currently serves on the newly formed Visit San Antonio Board. She is a graduate of LSA 40, was a part of the Steering Committee for LSA 41 and will Co-Chair LSA 43. She is the recipient of the Hispanic Chambers 2017 Inspiration Award and the 2017 HOPE Leadership Award.

Denise earned her BBA in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business from The University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.  She currently resides in San Antonio with her husband Mark and her 4 children, Madeleine, Isabella, Andrew, Joshua Luke.

Joe Treviño


Joe Treviño (aka Blue Cat) has been making records in San Antonio for over 30 years. His first recording was a project for a local comedian, doing comedy interwoven with rhythm and blues music. Great fun along with developing old school recording and editing techniques. After that, projects started leading into one another and soon the studio starting buzzing with the vibrant San Antonio underground music scene of the early 80s. Shortly after, he outgrew his home/garage studio and moved to a larger commercial building in North San Antonio.

 Work began there with a very ground breaking concept. A Rap opera. Elephant Tracks studios is where things really started happening. Staying true to the original concept of making high quality recording available to local musicians, we built our new model up from there. Soon the bustling Tejano scene started to explode and we started attracting some of the larger acts that were getting signed to major labels with legitimate recording budgets. Jay Perez, Super Groupo Mazz, Latin Breed, Michael Salgado, La Diferencia David Marez, Henry Gomez’s fantastic Mariachi arrangements, Steve Jordan etc.etc. Those were some crazy times with many teething pains. We were too big to be small and too small to be big but we stepped up and it payed off. We started racking up hit singles and gold records. I think that the artists and their labels liked our no-rules approach to recording. If it sounded different but still worked for the song we trusted our instincts and went with it. In hindsight, we influenced a lot of the sounds that are the norm in those genre’s today.

By now we were competing on a regional level and started receiving accolades from larger markets. Very strange when we started receiving bookings from other cities and other states based on the sound of something we recorded. It felt like we were still doing the same thing we always did except that luck (fate?) intervened. People started becoming aware of us and who we were recording.

About that time, with Tejano / Norteño music at the height of its popularity, Nashville started giving us a serious look and they formed a division of Arista Records called Arista Texas. They gave us our first big record. Our first encounter with a real Hollywood producer working with one of the true legends proud to call San Antonio home. Bill Halverson recording the great Flaco Jimenez. We hit it off with Flaco instantly and thus became the beginning of a long fun ride that’s still going strong. Recording Flaco and his assorted session musician projects that come to us from all over the world never gets old! Did I mention that the studio picked up its first Grammy with Flaco’s project? YeeHaw!!!! More work ensued with Los Lonely Boys, Augie Meyer, Texas Tornadoes, Los Tex Maniacs, The Krayolas, Los Lobos, The Maverick’s and many regional and international acts. Along with three more Grammy’s and 16 nominations for records produced and recorded at our studio. Keep in mind that all this works concurrently while still staying close to our roots and making time to collaborate on local self financed projects that benefit artists from our community. It truly has been an awesome ride with no signs of letting up with yet another crop of artists discovering our history.

Al Aguilar


Al Aguilar is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer at Creative Civilization, one of the region’s most respected and active full service advertising and public relations firms with offices in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. He and Gisela Girard founded the agency in 1999 and continue to make an impact in their community and for their clients. Creative Civilization’s work is visible in many of San Antonio’s iconic brands, including the rebranding of CPS Energy, San Antonio Housing Authority, and many others. 


Throughout his celebrated career Aguilar has led marketing efforts for many Fortune 100 companies in America, including Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Quest Diagnostics, as well as numerous high-profile local brands including Spurs Sports and Entertainment, FBD, Gonzaba Medical Group, University Health System, the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

Aguilar’s leadership role in the advertising industry extends to his commitment of serving his community. He has served on numerous boards including his role as 2015 chairman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio Sports and the Harlandale Education Foundation.

Michael Quintanilla


Michael Quintanilla is a feature writer for the San Antonio Express-News with a focus on fashion and its intersection with pop culture. Before joining the Express-News he was a feature and fashion writer for the Los Angeles Times where his beats included pop culture, Hollywood and fashion weeks in New York, Europe and L.A. He earned his journalism degree from San Antonio’s Trinity University and is a Burbank High School graduate. He has been a reporter at the El Paso Herald-Post, Dallas Times-Herald and the Dallas Morning News. Michael has received many awards throughout his career that began as a police beat reporter at the Express-News. He is the recipient of the Express-News' ""Unsung Hero"" award. While at the Los Angeles Times he was named feature writer of the year by the Times and the California Newspaper Publishers Assn. His work at the Times was included in staff packages that won the newspaper Pulitzer Prizes for the 1992 riots and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. His 9/11 coverage in 2001 also was included in staff honored by the Times. His work has been published in books and a human-interest series he wrote was made into an NBC movie. 

Colonel Sylvia Sanchez


Colonel Sylvia Sanchez of San Antonio is a retired colonel, Army nurse and the first woman elected statewide commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She is focused on major veterans' issues, including long waits on disability benefits claims and diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. As state commander, she's in charge of approximately 79,000 of the VFW's 1.8 million members nationwide. She served as an operating room supervisor in Operation Desert Storm. Sanchez, served 10 years in the Army, 20 years in the Texas Army National and was also a school nurse at Gardendale Elementary School. She was inspired to join VFW Post 8936 on the West Side in 1991 after it sponsored a field trip for 100 students at the school to visit the San Antonio Museum of Art. She became the first female commander of her district, and since has traveled all over Texas, promoting the VFW as an organization that provides school mentorship programs, scholarships, emergency aid for military families and other community support. 

Maria Antonietta Berriozábal


Maria Antonietta Berriozábal was the first Mexican-American woman elected to the San Antonio City Council who fought for a range of issues from a dais in council chambers. She was born just a block away from the Rio Grande in Laredo and is one of six children. In 1942, her family moved to San Antonio in the Christ the King Church neighborhood where she was a child translator. At the age of 13, through teachings at her church, she learned that her community had a right to sit at the table beside elected officials and have a say in plans that concerned their future. After graduating from Providence High School, her first job was with the Salvation Army, where she worked for a dollar an hour. She moved on to work at HemisFair ’68, the local Democratic Party and the Bexar County Courthouse, where she learned about politics. In 1979 she graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science. Four days before her 40th birthday, she became the city’s first Latina council member. After a 10-year term, Maria Antonietta Berriozábal continued her fight for social justice, often at her dining room table, where she welcomed a diverse group of people to share opinions about local, national and world issues. Over 38 years, young activists, clergy and neighbors met with her to talk about topics such as the DREAM Act, gentrification, energy, poverty, water and Latinas’ rights. She founded Hispana Unidas, served as a delegate to the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference in Bejing and was appointed U.S. Representative to the Inter American Commission on Women. Berriozábal wrote her 2012 memoir, “Maria, Daughter of Immigrants,” to tell the story of her parents, Apolinar Rodriguez and Sixta Arredondo Rodriguez, whose families fled the Mexican Revolution to settle in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Monica Taylor

Mistress of Ceremonies

Monica Taylor is the Director of Executive Brand & Outreach & Chief of Staff to the President & CEO for CPS Energy.  In her role, she supports and highlights CPS Energy’s senior executives, relative to their extensive thought leadership within the general business, the energy industry and community commitment.  She also broadly oversees functions related to corporate and executive affairs, as well as oversees the activities of the Office of the President & CEO.

Taylor’s professional background includes experience in public relations, marketing and promotions, having served in leadership roles for the San Antonio Spurs and the March of Dimes. Taylor also served for seven years as the Morning News Anchor and co-host of Fox San Antonio’s morning show.        

Taylor is a San Antonio native who graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations.