The San Antonio Presidential Council is ahead of its time in the search for diversity


Can you do some research and do a column on the San Antonio Presidential Council, founded in 1931? There have been a number of excellent members … and honorary members over the 90 years. The only story I have found is based on an article in the San Antonio Light dated December 29, 1957 that said, “The San Antonio Presidential Council carries a lot of weight. Its members are made up of executives, men and women, from more than 100 organizations. ”According to this article, the first 25 years of SACOP records were archived in the Witte Museum.

Among the achievements listed in the article were sponsoring and raising funds for the first book mobile for the San Antonio Public Library, taking responsibility for the first metal street signs installed in the city, influencing the passage of the first narcotics laws, buying cows for orphanages in the area, sponsorship for student nurses and awarding a prize to clubs and organizations that do the most outstanding work of the year. I want to know more.

Our current 46 members represent 28 different organizations from the military, business, education, art, philanthropy and other organizations. I am honored to be in the company of such an outstanding group of people – ordinary, extraordinary citizens of our community who are committed to the common good.

– Amy Jo Baker, Ed.D., President of the San Antonio Council of Presidents

According to catalog information for the University of Texas records held in the San Antonio Special Collections Library, the San Antonio Council of Presidents (SACOP) is “an organization made up of presidents of a variety of nonprofit and civil organizations in the city of city of San Antonio that are Meet monthly to share information. ”These papers cover 1985-08, a fraction of the long and useful life of SACOP.

The 1931-1956 records do not appear to be in the Witte Museum, where chief curator Amy Fulkerson searched donor records and was unable to find any listed on the San Antonio Council of Presidents.

A search of press clippings revealed that SACOP “held events at the museum in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but apparently did not use the museum as a regular meeting place like many other organizations of the time.” Instead, it met at various venues including the Menger and St. Anthony Hotels, the Junior League’s Bright Shawl, San Antonio College, and the Old San Francisco Steak House.

Founded in 1931 “to gather leaders of all clubs to make plans to improve the community, learn their needs, study their problems, and help solve them,” as described in the December 29, 1957 San Antonio Light Club of Clubs had Set far-reaching and ambitious goals to meet challenging times – the tough early years of the Great Depression before the New Deal.

It was unusual in that it was one coed group at a time when most weren’t.

Organizations that focused on civic engagement or career networks were almost exclusively male (Chamber of Commerce, Rotary), as were professional associations (bar associations, medical associations, property management companies), while those devoted to aesthetic ideals (art and music, gardening, historic preservation) tended to be to distort the female.

Most of the groups also tended to stick to their own narrow streets – increasing tourism, improving the look of the city’s streets, promoting high culture – while allowing the council to roam freely to explore whatever subject it was up to found a guest speaker.

Over the years, the assembled Presidents have thought about using the Alamo Stadium out of season (suggestions to make it pay for with concerts and a rodeo), the importance of air travel (advocating a stopover on American Airlines flight between Fort Worth and Monterrey, Mexico) and the need for mental health services (a phone-based awareness book in partnership with the San Antonio Public Library). The council also supported a sewage loan, donations to the Red Cross blood bank and the construction of a “congress hall next to La Villita” by the city’s public service.

In addition to learning about local issues, members of the council also turned their attention to public relations.

Research by former SACOP President Charlotte Travis shows that the members have set up a speaker office to exchange expert knowledge. In the mid-1950s, she began an awards program to reward members and other organizations for “worthy projects of civil trade, business, culture, or philanthropy,” as mentioned in the June 2, 1954 San Antonio Express.

By 1956 the program became an awards show broadcast on KENS Radio. As the Awards for Outstanding Organizations grew, they were divided into two, then three categories for groups of different sizes, with additional awards for individuals. “As more and more clubs or organizations emerged, the whole award project got out of hand,” said Travis, with more than 20 awards in a few years. The tradition ended in 1997, and the council now awards a single cash prize to a nonprofit organization at the end of each year.

In addition to its presidential members, SACOP has also made several other prominent San Antonians honorary members, including Councilor Helen Dutmer, artist / educator Amy Freeman Lee, Mayor Walter W. McAllister, beautification activist OP Schnabel, and Our Lady of the Lake University President Sister Elizabeth Anne Sültenfuss.

More than eight decades after funding this first book mobile, the council’s relationship with the San Antonio Public Library continues as donations are made on behalf of each monthly speaker.

Travis estimates that in 90 years of service, the council has installed 66 presidents (including four women in the first three decades and many more since), honored 75 outstanding organizations, donated cash to 24 nonprofits, and heard 720 presentations about the city from San Antonio.

With numbers like this, the San Antonio Presidential Council looks good to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 10 years.

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