SA2020 Chief of Engagement Molly Cox and SA2020 CEO Darryl Byrd pose for a photo with a B-cycle in downtown San Antonio. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
SA2020 Chief of Engagement Molly Cox and SA2020 CEO Darryl Byrd pose for a photo with a B-cycle in downtown San Antonio. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

SA2020 began back in 2010 as a mighty idea and a bold emerging vision created through the efforts of thousands of San Antonians just like you and me. Back then, I was a volunteer in service to that idea as a steering committee tri-chair. We asked San Antonians to think about their city at the end of the next ten years (almost half a generation) in terms of what was most important to them. We also challenged them to go beyond the easy to achieve or the “doable,” and to think about what they really, really wanted, even if that seemed impossible as they spoke the words.

That conversation created a pretty incredible space where together, citizens from every corner of our city pondered the question and began thinking courageously about the answers. Those answers, among other things, became a vision that San Antonio would become a city whose citizens were among the healthiest of all Americans, where transformations in education would create the greatest of life opportunities for the young and young-at-heart, and where citizens were deeply engaged at all levels in driving their city into the future.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped only asking the question of others and took the time to answer it for myself. In late 2010, my only child James was just shy of seven years old. I dreamt of the San Antonio that he and his peers would experience a decade later at 17 when they would surely be contemplating many important decisions about their future. I wondered: How solid of a foundation would they be standing on? Would they be well prepared to compete in any classroom or workplace in the world, and would they see their home as city of great energy, opportunity and promise? Like thousands of others I took those questions very seriously and committed to doing my part to answer them through action.

Diamond bids the camera farewell as her Reading Buddy session with Darryl Byrd continues. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Diamond, a second grader at Herff Elementary, bids the camera farewell as her Reading Buddy session with Darryl Byrd continues. Photo by Iris Dimmick. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

In 2011, I accepted the challenge to lead SA2020 to the next phase as its founding president and CEO. The organization quickly earned its status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in 2012. It was then that we quickly began the work to engage thousands more San Antonians, objectively measure our progress, and support our partners who move the SA2020 needle every day. We recruited a great board of directors and built a small and talented multi-disciplinary team of professionals, all working pretty darn tirelessly in partnership with you on behalf of our city’s future.

My primary objective since the formation of our organization has been to lead the creation of a powerful vehicle to drive SA2020’s mission of catalyzing the entire San Antonio community into passionate, focused, and sustained action to achieve the shared goals that will transform San Antonio into a world-class city by the year 2020 in eleven key vision areas. I made a commitment of up to three years to set the foundation for SA2020.

It’s now 2015 – marking the halfway point to the year SA2020 – and I am leaving my role as president and CEO and stepping into a new one as a newly elected member of our board of directors. I have had great fun as president and CEO, and plan to have just as much as a board member. Among the reasons I am changing roles is that I believe the timing is right to commit more of my energy to the pursuit of my personal passions related to imagining and launching early-stage ideas related to community development.

SA2020 Chief of Engagement Molly Cox speaks during the 2014 SA2020 Progress Report. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
SA2020 Chief of Engagement Molly Cox speaks during the 2014 SA2020 Progress Report luncheon. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Molly Cox, whom you may know, is stepping up to serve as interim president and CEO. She has been an integral part of SA2020 since the earliest days – serving as a table facilitator at the public convenings in 2010, then moved into a consulting role for the organization. She most recently held the position of Chief of Engagement for SA2020. Her passion for community engagement is evident through her work and she firmly believes that nonprofit organizations function as a vehicle for real community change.

I am confident that the second half of our journey together will yield even greater results than the first. Molly will lead our organization into the next five years and SA2020 will continue to measure our progress, support partners in their work, and engage the public to ensure that our efforts actually result in our vision becoming a reality. Additionally, we will double down on our focus to inspire more volunteerism and philanthropic giving at every level, and support the strategies that drive real outcomes related to our vision.

I am often reminded of the good work we are doing together when I field what have become regular calls about SA2020 from communities small, large and everything in between from across the nation. They all want to know how to replicate what we doing right here at home. I tell them the story of the growing thousands of people who are thinking ahead, thinking big, stepping up, and not just waiting and see what happens, but putting in the work themselves to make it happen.

I am excited about where we are going, the SA2020 team, and my ongoing role in helping us achieve the SA2020 vision. I am also looking forward to personally developing some interesting new ideas to compliment our work together.

*Featured/top image: Former SA2020 Chief of Engagement Molly Cox (basket) is now interim President and CEO as Darryl Byrd steps down. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

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Darryl Byrd

Darryl Byrd is the founder and Managing Principal of ULTRAte, LLC, a community development and management consulting firm based in San Antonio. He is a board member of the San Antonio Area Foundation and...