Last Updated on February 1, 2024
The “My River POV” series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) staff and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of area creeks and rivers.
KIM GARCIA, GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS COORDINATOR
I’ve always been drawn to the water. In my memories, the San Antonio River has always been a place of enjoyment and growing up just south of Brackenridge Park, I was always outside. I remember walking along the banks of the river to the park, picking up rocks along the way to add to my precious collection. I would walk down to the water crossing at the end of my block and watch the waterfall for what seemed like hours! Brackenridge Park is where I learned to fly a kite and how to ride a bike. As I got older, I would bike along the banks of the river on trails made by myself and others who enjoyed being by the water. We would fish in the river with makeshift rods from the bamboo that used to grow rampantly and release our catches back to the river.
HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK AT THE RIVER AUTHORITY?
I began working for the River Authority in October 2001 as a part-time receptionist, and nine months later, I became full-time. Through the years, I was an administrative assistant in various departments, including Watershed Engineering and Watershed and Park Operations. Then, in 2007, I came to work for Government and Public Affairs, and I thought, “Ah, I’m home!”
WHAT DOES A GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS COORDINATOR DO?
EVERYTHING! Well, maybe not everything, but I’ve been at the River Authority for 22 years. I have a lot of institutional knowledge, and I do my best to help people not only in my department but in other departments, too! In my position, I coordinate various types of community outreach, like presentations for businesses and groups, sponsorships, and community partner events. I also answer questions from the public and plan some of our signature events, like the Volunteer Appreciation Mixer, which recognizes the efforts of our incredible River Warrior volunteers. Some other tasks I handle are paying the bills for the department, making sure we stay on budget, and processing contracts and purchase orders. In 2020, I completed my certification as a Certified Festival and Events Associate from the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) through a two-year program.
In 2020, Kim became a Certified Festival and Event Associate.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS WITH THE RIVER AUTHORITY THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Being with the River Authority for so long, I have played a part in many of our most notable projects to date. I have been with the River Authority through the grand openings of the Mission Reach and Museum Reach, the groundbreaking and grand opening of San Pedro Creek Culture Park, the opening of Martinez IV Wastewater Treatment Plant, the reopening of Elmendorf Lake Park, kicking off the ongoing Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project, and of course many of our parks like Helton Nature Park and Escondido Creek Parkway. For many of these grand opening celebrations, I coordinated venues, catering, live performers, giveaway items, and secured volunteers. It feels great to see the culmination of all the hard work that goes into these projects and be a part of the celebrations of these achievements. I recently received the River Authority Star Award, an annual award recognizing those who embody the River Authority’s core values and culture through exemplary character, strong work ethic, and commitment to teamwork and service. I am very honored to have been given this award, and I am very proud to be a part of my team.
Kim at the Fiesta Flotilla Event in 2017
In fact, it was gathering volunteers that made me remember another one of my favorite achievements. When asking employees to volunteer for events, I realized many did not know the full scope of everything we do. Of course, they were experts in their own fields, but there was a disconnect, so I started employee tours for new hires. I was able to coordinate with several managers to help give tours of the dams, nature parks (we only had two at the time), the wastewater treatment plant, and the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek tunnel inlets and outlets. Word got around, and soon, other River Authority employees wanted to take the tour! This accomplishment was significant to me because our employees are our first stewards. They go home and tell their family, friends, and everyone they interact with about what they learn on the job. Our employees are our best advocates, and if we’re trying to get the word out, why not start at home?
Kim and members of the River Authority’s Public Affairs Division
WHY DO YOU ENJOY WORKING FOR THE SAN ANTONIO RIVER AUTHORITY?
The River Authority does incredible work, but not everyone in the community knows what we do. Being a member of the Government and Public Affairs teams, it is my job to share what we do. The River Authority plays a vital role in fostering stewardship in our local communities, which is essential to maintaining safe, clean, and enjoyable waterways. I believe the San Antonio River is the most precious resource in the city, but it is vulnerable, and we need to protect it. I feel happy to be a part of an organization that does just that. The river is something that I grew up enjoying, and I want it to be around for future generations!