Haven for Hope board Chairman Bill Greehey says incoming President and CEO Kenny Wilson wasn't even looking for a new position. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Haven for Hope founder Bill Greehey is stepping down as chairman of the board of the nonprofit that opened in 2010. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

Haven for Hope founder Bill Greehey is stepping down as chairman of the board, the nonprofit homeless service center announced Tuesday. 

Longtime civic leader and former USAA executive Barbara Gentry, who has served as vice chairwoman of Haven for Hope, will replace the prominent businessman and philanthropist as leader of the Haven board. 

Greehey, whose retirement from NuStar Energy was announced in October, has been named chairman emeritus of the Haven board. 

Greehey is the visionary behind Haven for Hope and led an effort to raise $101 million to build the 22-acre shelter and services campus for people experiencing homelessness that opened in 2010 and is now San Antonio’s largest homeless shelter and services campus. Since then, it has provided services to 40,000 people and helped more than 20,000 move into independent or supportive housing.

Through the years, Greehey has contributed more than $34 million to Haven for Hope and its partner agencies and over $51 million through the NuHope Golf Tournament.

A statement from Haven for Hope said that, as founding chairman, Greehey was very active in fostering the “can do culture that permeates Haven for Hope,” shepherding the nonprofit through many obstacles to become widely acknowledged as the national model in serving people experiencing homelessness.

“The success of Haven for Hope has exceeded my greatest expectations,” said Greehey in a statement released Tuesday. “And I’m proud of the culture we have established in which we not only provide all of the critical services the homeless need to move on and live better lives, but do so with dignity, respect and unconditional love.”

Greehey added that “with the culture established and a sound financial footing in place,” it was a good time for him to step down.

About Gentry, the former chairman said she has proven herself in the community and has “great passion for our mission.” 

A 19-year USAA employee, Gentry retired in 2012 as senior vice president of community affairs and president of the USAA Foundation and USAA Education Foundation. She previously served as vice chairwoman of Haven for Hope’s board. 

“Bill Greehey is a true icon who has set the standard for business and civic leaders in San Antonio and across the country for more than 40 years, and he has been an incredible inspiration and mentor for me,” said Gentry. “His generosity and passion have had an immeasurable impact on our city, and Haven for Hope is the result of his vision and his compassion for the least fortunate in our community.”

Greehey, who was CEO of Valero Energy until 2006, also earned the respect of current and former mayors of San Antonio for his work in making Haven for Hope a reality. 

“Bill played an indispensable role in founding Haven for Hope and ensuring that it remained intact to continue providing opportunities for our community’s homeless to rebuild their lives,” stated Mayor Ron Nirenberg. 

Phil Hardberger, who was mayor in 2005 when Greehey began to research solutions to homelessness, has said that what made the businessman different from others “is how much he loved and cared for his community. If you set aside his charitable contributions, which are large, and didn’t consider anything else, you’d still have to say he has been one of San Antonio’s best citizens.” 

At a Nov. 8 meeting, the board also elected other new board officers, including vice chairmen Sam Dawson, CEO of Pape-Dawson Engineers, and Eric Fisher, senior vice president of Wholesale Marketing and International Commercial Operations for Valero Energy; treasurer Dennert Ware, former president and CEO of Kinetic Concepts, and secretary Mary Rose Brown, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of NuStar Energy.

Kim Jefferies was named CEO of Haven for Hope in Nov. 2021.

“As I end my first year at Haven and now aware of the scale of the need in this city, I am grateful to Mr. Greehey’s visionary leadership in creating Haven for Hope,” Jefferies said. “I’ve had the personal pleasure of witnessing Mr. Greehey put his heart and soul into Haven for Hope over the past years and the best tribute I can think to give to Mr. Greehey is to work diligently and passionately with the rest of the Haven staff and our partners to continue the incredible work he began at Haven so long ago.”

The Greehey Family Foundation, NuStar Energy and Valero are financial supporters of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...