The new head of the city of San Antonio’s office of communications and engagement, and her team are making the rounds and introducing themselves to neighborhood associations and other civic groups.

More than 30 people from across the city attended a city-hosted meet-and-greet event June 8 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden’s Betty Kelso Center.

Attendees met new Communications and Engagement Director Alanna Reed, who oversees strategic communications, community engagement, media relations and creative services, according to city officials.

Reed also oversees open government transactions, public access television stations and the website, which is undergoing a redesign with the new link,, local officials said.

Prior to joining the city of San Antonio, Reed was communications director for Houston Public Works and has experience working in biotechnology, nonprofits, events, community engagement and local government.

The city of San Antonio government has been undergoing restructuring, which includes a re-emphasis on public communications and engagement, and having that office handle communications for select city departments and functions, such as the city manager, attorney and clerk’s offices.

The communications and engagement department also oversees the SASpeakUp portal, which the city launched last fall.

The communications and engagement staff includes Gabriela Tello, Melissa Escamilla and Khaila Barrett.

Tello said she and her colleagues have already attended meetings of some various San Antonio neighborhood associations.

“If you have an association meeting coming up, please send me an invite. I am eager to get busy, and so is the team,” Tello said.

Attendees at the June 8 event represented several neighborhood associations, such as Hunters Creek, Churchill Estates, Mission San Jose and Dellcrest as well as independent civic organizations, including the local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

They were given opportunities to briefly introduce themselves and say what they enjoy about their neighborhood and how their neighborhood has changed over the years.

Attendees also shared suggestions on how the city can improve public communications, including ensuring residents with no internet access or smartphones still can be informed quickly about city meetings, events and other vital news and information.

Additionally, attendees shared complaints about how the city has sought to interact with their community organizations.

“This is the feedback that we need so we can be better. Thank you for being honest,” Reed said.

Reed and Tello said their department will focus on better collaboration with community groups; managing the neighborhood association registry; overseeing the community organization registry; providing helpful tools and resources; and seeking public feedback on various city issues and initiatives.

Reed said she and her team are developing an “engagement playbook” that will include ways for the city to make its public communications efforts more efficient and effective.

Reed and Tello said residents may call the city’s main help line at 311 or 210-207-6000, visit, or check out the free 311 mobile app for more information on city services.