Assistant City Manager Carlos Contreras has been named the new CEO of Goodwill San Antonio, the nonprofit announced Monday.
Contreras will succeed Kevin Bergner, who said in 2020 that he would retire this year, in April.
“We look forward to welcoming Carlos, who brings an impressive record of public service and a wonderful heart for taking care of this community and his employees,” Bergner said in a statement.
Contreras, who has been with the City since 2009 and an assistant city manager since 2012, said in an interview that although he had not planned to leave his City job, he was intrigued by the opportunity. Goodwill San Antonio hired Austin firm Lehman Associates to conduct a nationwide search for its new CEO, and Contreras said the firm approached him.
“I was not looking to leave the City at all,” he said. “I really love and admire the people that I get to work with and have some really exciting things that we’re planning for the future. But I received a recruitment call and the more I learned about Goodwill and all of the work that they do in San Antonio … I thought this is an opportunity to go and really become a part of the workforce development ecosystem.”
Contreras has overseen the City’s departments of aviation, Pre-K 4 SA, convention and sports facilities, government and public affairs, and economic development, where he led the Train for Jobs and Ready to Work initiatives. He also led San Antonio’s tricentennial celebrations in 2018. Prior to joining the City, he worked as the director of government affairs for national homebuilder KB Homes and practiced law for 15 years.
City Manager Erik Walsh said he felt “mixed emotions” at Contreras’ departure from his team.
“Carlos has been a valuable member of our leadership team and has a proven record of public service,” Walsh wrote in an email Monday. “He will continue to serve the residents of San Antonio in his new role.”
Walsh also said he has started the process of recruiting Contreras’ replacement and hopes to have a candidate identified by early March.
John Matey, Goodwill San Antonio board chair, said Contreras’ “deep experience” with leading large and complex organizations made him the top choice to lead the nonprofit.
“We are excited to welcome Carlos to Goodwill San Antonio,” Matey said in a statement. “We believe Carlos’ record of success in both the public and private sectors – as well as in the community at large – is ideally suited to help Goodwill San Antonio grow and thrive in our mission to help change lives through the power of work.”
Contreras’ last day with the City is planned for mid-March. He said he was honored and excited to lead an organization focused on providing people the opportunity to work – especially in the midst of a pandemic that has disrupted so many people’s lives and left hundreds of thousands of Bexar County residents unemployed.
“When I was a young man growing up, my father worked for what used to be called the Texas Employment Commission in San Antonio, and he always talked about the dignity that work provides for people and how that improves lives, because he was in that business,” Contreras said.
“So from a very early age, work and the ability to work and providing opportunities for work has been sort of ingrained in my spirit. This is a unique opportunity to be at the front lines on that.”