View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.
View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA's Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.

Nominees for Centro San Antonio’s 14th annual “Downtowner of the Year” award were announced this morning via a press release. It’s the first time the downtown nonprofit has publicly released this list prior to the award announcement as the judging and voting takes place internally.

Centro San Antonio and co-presenters from the San Antonio Museum of Art will reveal the 2014 winner at the Downtown “BEST” Awards Luncheon on March 28th at the Wyndam San Antonio Riverwalk hotel.

Click here to purchase tickets ($70 for Centro Alliance members, $90 general and $35 for students).

“We’re excited about these changes,” stated Pat DiGiovanni, president and CEO of Centro San Antonio in the press release. “They mirror the process used by iconic awards programs in the entertainment industry, giving us the opportunity to recognize those who may not win, but have made a significant contribution to our downtown, and add an element of surprise to the event.”

You might notice that our director, Robert Rivard, has been nominated. Looking at this list, we’re actually hoping he doesn’t win – there are some fine examples of downtown advocates here.

Other Downtown “Best” Award titles include: Adaptive Reuse, Arts and Culture Program, Business Space, Work in Progress, Event, Neighborhood, etc.

This year’s nominees:

Creative Civilization

Gisela Girard  (left) and Al Aguilar and of Creative Civilization. Courtesy photo.
Gisela Girard (left) and Al Aguilar and of Creative Civilization. Courtesy photo.

Celebrating its 15-year anniversary, this award-winning advertising and marketing agency is one of downtown San Antonio’s most recognized advertising, marketing and public relations agencies. Founded by advertising leaders Al Aguilar and Gisela Girard, the agency opened its doors on February 16, 1999 in an office building across from the historic Alamo.

Its past and current client roster includes the San Antonio Spurs, the San Antonio Express-News, VIA, the newly opened Briscoe Museum of Western Art and many others. Over the years, Creative Civilization has launched memorable campaigns for many downtown organizations.

Lori Houston

Lori Houston, director of the Center City Development Office. Photo by Al Rendon
Lori Houston, director of the Center City Development Office. Photo by Al Rendon as part of our Rendon Retrato series.

In her role with the Center City Development Office, Lori has launched and oversees a variety of initiatives and programs designed to energize infill development in the center city, including the Center City Housing Incentive Policy, Home Ownership for Employees and the Brownfields Redevelopment Program.

In addition, Houston has brought numerous economic development projects to downtown, targeting vacant and underutilized properties, including Center City Open House and OPEN, a retail pop-up program initiated on Houston Street during the 2013 holiday season.

Since 2010, Houston’s efforts have resulted in more than $500 million in private investment in the downtown area, which is expected to yield at least 2,800 housing units.

Joan Korte

Joan Korte stands with Mayor Julián Castro. Courtesy photo.
Joan Korte stands with Mayor Julián Castro. Courtesy photo.

Joan’s commitment to downtown San Antonio includes being a long-time resident and serving as an active member and eight-year board president of the Downtown Residents Association.

A dedicated volunteer, Korte has served as a member of the San Antonio Conservation Society, NIOSA, Parks Community Bond Committee, VIA Citizens Advisory Committee, Downtown Advisory Board, Downtown Alliance Board and Paseo del Rio Association Board. In 2013, Joan published, “Downtown San Antonio,” a book containing the history of downtown with over 200 vintage photographs and captions of memories.

Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard Headshot 250x250 (1)
Robert Rivard, director of the Rivard Report

Bob unflinchingly set out into uncharted territory of hyper-local, digital media two years ago and hasn’t looked back. The Rivard Report – Bob’s most recent endeavor after leaving his role as editor of the San Antonio Express-News in 2011s – is an online magazine that covers issues and lifestyles in San Antonio’s urban core. The Rivard Report doesn’t just cover issues and lifestyles, it serves and connects citizens, organizations, small and large businesses, volunteers and community leaders in San Antonio’s center city to act as an accelerator of urban renaissance on all fronts.

In addition to Downtowner of the Year, Centro San Antonio will also present a special Lifetime Achievement Award to a true champion of downtown San Antonio and crown its inaugural King & Queen of Downtown.

 Past winners include:

2001 – Walter Mathis

2002 – Lila Cockrell

2003 – Jocelyn Strauss

2004 – Roger Flores, Sr.

2005 – Bernard Lifshutz

2006 – Andres Andujar

2007 – Mayor Phil Hardberger

2008 – Sheryl Sculley

2009 – Joanne Boone

2010 – Mayor Julian Castro

2011 – Paula Stallcup

2012 – Pat DiGiovanni

2013 – Irby Hightower

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at