San Antonio civic leaders, educators head to SXSW

Julian Castro, former San Antonio ,ayor and former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, speaks with Lydia Polgreen during a South by Southwest Conference & Festivals event March 10, 2019, at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. SXSW is returning as an in-person festival this year following a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Danny Matson/Getty Images for SXSW)
Julian Castro, former San Antonio ,ayor and former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, speaks with Lydia Polgreen during a South by Southwest Conference & Festivals event March 10, 2019, at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. SXSW is returning as an in-person festival this year following a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Danny Matson/Getty Images for SXSW)

Julian Castro, former San Antonio ,ayor and former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, speaks with Lydia Polgreen during a South by Southwest Conference & Festivals event March 10, 2019, at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. SXSW is returning as an in-person festival this year following a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Danny Matson/Getty Images for SXSW)

Numerous current and former elected officials, educators and other experts from San Antonio are scheduled to speak at the Interactive portion of this year’s South by Southwest Conference & Festivals, the first all in-person edition of Austin’s interactive, music and film festival in two years.

Event organizers expressed disappointment upon canceling the 2020 SXSW because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the 2021 conference was held virtually, SXSW organizers said they look forward to hosting speakers and attendees from across the globe March 11-20.

According to the SXSW schedule, a handful of San Antonio officials, nonprofit leaders and experts in their respective field will participate in panel discussions and presentations, including:




  • District 116 state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, in the panel “Attack on Our Democracy: Becoming a Quorum Breaker,” 10-11 a.m. March 12 at Hilton Austin Downtown, 500 E. Fourth St. Organizers said the panelists will talk about the efforts that they and fellow Democratic state legislators employed during the 2021 Texas Legislature to slow or halt the Republican majority’s approach on new voting rights measures.

  • Kimiya Factory, the executive director of Black Freedom Factory, in the panel "Twentysomethings: The Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders,” 4-5 p.m. March 13 at Hilton Austin Downtown. Organizers said the panel will focus on how Generation Z workers are essential to the long-term sustainability of the nonprofit sector.

  • Emily Royall, Smart City administrator with the city of San Antonio’s Office of Innovation, in the workshop “Putting Open Data to Work at Scale,” 2:30-4:30 p.m. March 14 at the JW Marriott, 110 E. Second St. Organizers said the workshop will foster a discussion about how to best access the value of public data and how to look at larger, overarching topics related to the datasets being collected and assessed.

  • Henry Cisneros, former San Antonio mayor and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, makes his return to SXSW. The schedule shows him being part of a panel “Cracking the Housing Affordability Code,” 10-11 a.m. March 14 at Hilton Austin Downtown. Organizers said the panelists will discuss how stable, affordable housing can lead to better health and upward mobility for millions of Americans, but the pandemic and rising rents continue to trip up low-income households.





The SXSW schedule shows special activations, including Spurs x Sneaker Politics from the San Antonio Spurs. NBA team officials said the pop-up will feature a limited-edition capsule collection, food, games and frozen refreshments, all inspired by iconic local gas stations and corner stores of the 1990s and 2000s.

The Spurs x Sneaker Politics pit stop will pop up around SXSW official venues between 11 and 7 p.m. March 11-12 and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. March 13, the schedule said.



Additionally, some San Antonians will take part in SXSW’s education-centric conference, SXSW EDU, which will have multiple in-person activities March 7-11, organizers said. Those local participants include:




  • Clark High School librarian Lucy Podmore in a March 7 panel discussion on how to view and use school libraries as a center of social equity work for all community members

  • David Robinson, former San Antonio Spurs star and Carver Academy founder, in a March 7 panel about how to optimize the mind-body connection to enable deeper learning in a classroom

  • Vanessa Sansone, a professor at The University of Texas at San Antonio, in a March 7 panel about data innovation in higher education

  • Sandra Garcia, chief privacy officer and senior associate counsel at UTSA, in a March 8 panel about higher education privacy perspectives

  • Trinity University professor Juan Sepulveda in a March 8 panel about diversity in education leadership

  • UTSA professor Langston Clark in a March 8 panel discussion about race, racism and politics

  • UTSA professor Sara DeTaurk in a March 9 panel about ensuring inclusive and quality global student exchanges

  • District 20 U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, in a March 10 panel about the importance of higher education and its role in recruiting and retaining a diverse group of U.S. Foreign Service diplomats





Admission to official SXSW and SXSW EDU activities is by badge only. For more information, visit www.sxsw.com and www.sxswedu.com.

By Edmond Ortiz
Edmond joined Community Impact as a reporter in August 2021, helping to launch new editions in the San Antonio market. Edmond covers various beats in the North San Antonio coverage area. He previously was the main reporter for Local Community News, covering several areas in and around San Antonio, first as a freelancer and then staff member. Prior to that, Edmond was a community news reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the San Antonio Express-News, including editing two community weeklies. He's a San Antonio native, and studied mass communications at San Antonio College and Texas State University.