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Symposium Speakers

The San Antonio River Authority is excited to present the 2021 River Symposium Speakers.
Click on each tab to read speaker bios for all events and sessions or download the printable at the button below.

Downloadable Speaker List

SA Report Roundtable Panel - Virtual

  • Robert Rivard
  • Steven Schauer
  • Nefi Garza
  • Minna Paul
  • Amanda Love
Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard | Panel Moderator - Publisher and Editor Robert Rivard is a longtime, award-winning journalist and former newspaper editor. He writes a weekly column, published Sunday on the San Antonio Report. In 2012 Robert and his wife, Monika Maeckle, founded the San Antonio Report, formerly Rivard Report. He and Monika have called San Antonio home for nearly 30 years.

Steven Schauer

Steven Schauer | Panelist - Steven Schauer is the Director of External Communications for the River Authority. He oversees the Government Affairs Department and Brand & Public Communications Department. His work at the River Authority includes developing and implementing the strategic direction for the agency’s communication and outreach activities, acting as the River Authority’s spokesman, coordinating local, state, and federal legislative and policy agendas, and directing the educational outreach programs. He also manages the River Authority’s national and international relations. 

Nefi Garza

Nefi Garza | Panelist - Born and raised in San Antonio, Nefi Garza has worked for both public and private industries. He attended the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and earned a degree in Civil Engineering. Beginning his career with private engineering firms, Nefi learned hydrology and hydraulics from great mentors and became a licensed Professional Engineer. His accomplishments include the public deployment of the Bexar County Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) update as well as the successful establishment of a private hydrology and hydraulics practice. Nefi returned to the public sector with the City of San Antonio’s Public Works Department (formerly Transportation and Capital Improvements) in 2017, where he currently serves as Assistant Director over the Storm Water Division.

Minna Paul

Minna Paul | Panelist - Minna manages the task of engaging and inspiring 1,300 registered volunteers of the River Warrior volunteer program to support the mission and vison of the River Authority. Her role is to help the community understand our river as a critical and finite freshwater resource for humans and wildlife and inspire them to adopt actions for healthy creeks and rivers.

Formerly, as the Education Coordinator with the River Authority, she coordinated and conducted field trips, teacher trainings and other educational opportunities for schools and other groups in Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties. She has a master’s degree in the Environmental Sciences and has worked with many national and international nature organizations in her 12+ years career in environment education. 

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Amanda Love | Panelist -Amanda Love is a River Warrior in the San Antonio River Authority's River Warrior Program. She is also an Alamo Area Master Naturalist.

Sheridan Speakers

  • Steven Schauer
  • Yasmin Gutierrez
  • Gary Merritt
  • Jim Bailey
  • Clairissa Flores
  • Zaid Subhi
  • Karen Bishop
  • Annalisa Peace
  • Leah Cuddeback
Steven Schauer

 Steven Schauer is the Director of External Communications for the River Authority. He oversees the Government Affairs Department and Brand & Public Communications Department. His work at the River Authority includes developing and implementing the strategic direction for the agency’s communication and outreach activities, acting as the River Authority’s spokesman, coordinating local, state, and federal legislative and policy agendas, and directing the educational outreach programs. He also manages the River Authority’s national and international relations. 

Sheridan Speaker Moderator

Yasmine Gutierrez headshot

Originally from San Diego, CA, Yasmin has been a Texan since 2004.  After completing her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Yasmin has worked in both the private and public sectors of Engineering for the last 10 years.  Since joining the River Authority, Yasmin’s expertise has been in the field of identifying and mitigating flood risk for the community, helping communities plan drainage infrastructure, and become more resilient to flooding.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 10:00 AM - The Value of a Floodplain 

Gary Merrit Headshot

Having represented clients in over $800 million in corporate, financial, and real estate transactions, Garry brings the Great Springs Project (GSP) a unique combination of business development savvy, real estate law expertise, government service, and a longstanding commitment to the conservation of Texas’ natural resources. A former rural County Judge, County Attorney, and corporate counsel, Garry’s legal expertise include business and real estate transactions, water rights, business development, private securities offerings, acquisition of venture capital, and contract negotiations. Prior to joining GSP, Garry served as General Counsel and Legislative Director of the Texas Association of Counties. Garry has also previously served as Board Chairman of the Hill Country Alliance, the Middle Rio Grande Development Council, and the Southwest Area Regional Transit District.  An avid river guide, Garry cares deeply about our beautiful hill country and preserving it for generations to come.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 10:45 AM - Great Springs Project

Jim Bailey headshot

Jim leads the housing studio at Alamo Architects in San Antonio and has been responsible for the design and construction of over 13,000 housing units. He has played a key role in many major local planning efforts and served on various related boards, commissions, and committees, and has initiated many community-driven infrastructure projects over the last quarter-century. Jim served on Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s five-member Housing Policy Task Force to develop San Antonio’s Housing Policy Framework. In 2019, he founded ActivateSA. Jim is driven by the belief that active listening and deep collaboration are the foundation of a future San Antonio that is just and sustainable.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 10:45 AM - Great Springs Project

Clairissa Flores

Clairissa Flores has been with the San Antonio River Authority for six years. After graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio, she decided to put her passion for the environment towards water reclamation. As treatment quality control supervisor, she oversees the operations of treatment plants and ensures the biological treatment process runs effectively and efficiently to produce high quality effluent to protect the health and safety of the creeks and rivers.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 11:30 AM - Wildlife Wonderful Wasteland Treatment 

Zaid Subhi Headshot

Zaid holds a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has more than 13 years of experience in civil and environmental engineering. He works with consulting engineers and general contractors.   His milestone projects include, analysis and redesign of the drinking water distribution system of the City of San Juan, Texas, construction of Terminal III in Abu Dhabi Airport, construction of 52 miles of sewer main in Jordan. Zaid is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Texas and a Certified Professional Project Manager. 

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 1:00 PM - Keep the San Antonio River & Tributaries Clean - Bexar County Public Works

Karen Bishop

Karen Bishop has 20 years of experience with the San Antonio River Authority. For the past decade, she has advocated for increased stormwater and surface water quality by identifying and attempting to remove barriers to water quality-driven land development design. She serves as senior supervisor of the Sustainable Infrastructure Unit which offers training, rebates, policy recommendations, design guidance, and other green infrastructure tools to make it easier to design and develop for water quality. Karen co-chairs the Environmental & Water Resources Institute’s San Antonio board and is a board member of US Green Building Council’s South Texas Region.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 1:45 PM - So, What is Green Infrastructure

Annalisa Peace

Annalisa Peace holds an MS in Urban Administration from Trinity University and has over thirty years’ experience working with government and non-profit organizations in a variety of capacities. Since 2004, Ms. Peace has been the Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, which unites 52 organizations and thousands of Texans throughout a 21 county region behind a plan to protect the Edwards and Trinity aquifers, their contributing watersheds, and the Texas Hill Country and participates in many other efforts to maintain the environmental integrity of our region.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 2:30 PM - Greater Edwards Aquifer (GEAA) & Hill Country Alliance (HCA) Panel

Leah Cuddeback

After a childhood spent visiting grandparents in Wimberley, Leah left her hometown in Southern Illinois to pursue a B.S. in Wildlife Biology at Texas State University. She has spent nearly a decade in science education at the Saint Louis Zoo, El Ranchito at The Shield Ranch, and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. Leah joined the Hill Country Alliance in October of 2018 and stepped into a full-time role as the Storytelling and Public Engagement Manager in the summer of 2021. She is passionate about protecting the natural resources and scenic beauty that originally drew her to Texas.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 2:30 PM - Greater Edwards Aquifer (GEAA) & Hill Country Alliance (HCA) Panel

Confluence Park Speakers

  • Shaun Donovan
  • Lee Marlowe
  • Frates Seeligson
Shaun Donovan

 Shaun has been with the River Authority since 2012. He was originally hired as an Aquatic Biologist and worked his way to the Senior Aquatic Biologist position before being promoted to management. In his time with the River Authority, he has been instrumental in developing and expanding proactive ecological restoration efforts throughout the basin including fish and mussel reintroductions. Prior to working at the River Authority, Shaun worked offshore as a Marine Fisheries Observer where he studied various species including sharks and red snapper.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 1:00 PM - Aquatic Wildlife of the San Antonio River 

Lee Marlowe

 Lee Marlowe is a restoration ecologist with over 20 years of professional experience working in the field of ecological restoration and natural resource management including sustainable landscape practices and applications for improved ecological functions. Her expertise includes the use of native plants to provide wildlife habitat, water quality benefits, bank/site stabilization and aesthetic beauty in landscapes of all sizes.

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 2:00 PM - How to Garden With Nature 

Frates Seelingson

 Frates Seeligson graduated from Duke University in 1992.  Upon returning to Texas, he studied ranch and range management at Texas Christian University.  A fourth-generation rancher, he has managed agricultural operations across South Texas for over two decades, with a specific focus on native habitat management and restoration.  In 2007, Frates joined the board of the San Antonio River Foundation and in 2016 joined the staff of the River Foundation as Director of Confluence Park.  In this role he managed the fundraising, construction and programming of Confluence Park, a one-of-a-kind venue for environmental education along the banks of the San Antonio River.  In July of 2019, Frates took over the Executive Director position for the River Foundation. 

Session: Saturday, September 25 | 3:00 PM - SA River Foundation Panel Discussion

National Public Lands Day

  • Minna Paul
Minna Paul

 Minna manages the task of engaging and inspiring 1,300 registered volunteers of the River Warrior volunteer program to support the mission and vison of the River Authority. Her role is to help the community understand our river as a critical and finite freshwater resource for humans and wildlife and inspire them to adopt actions for healthy creeks and rivers. Formerly, as the Education Coordinator with the River Authority, she coordinated and conducted field trips, teacher trainings and other educational opportunities for schools and other groups in Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties. She has a master’s degree in the Environmental Sciences and has worked with many national and international nature organizations in her 12+ years career in environment education. 

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