San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Diane Sanchez.
Diane Sanchez has resigned as the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Diane Sánchez has resigned, less than one year since her first day on the job.

Having served in the role since the chamber’s annual gala on Feb. 2, 2019, Sánchez chose not to renew her contract and reportedly submitted her resignation letter to chamber leaders. Her last official day will be Feb. 1, but she is no longer working in chamber offices, said a spokesman for the chamber’s chairwoman, Dr. Erika Gonzalez.

An interim president will be announced in the coming weeks, according to a press release Monday morning from the chamber.

Gonzalez said the board received Sánchez’s resignation on Saturday. “That was the first … clue that we had of anything,” Gonzalez said. “So we accepted her resignation and are wishing her well in her next endeavors.” 

Sánchez did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a source close to her indicated she was pursuing a new business venture.

The chamber’s board met Monday morning to determine its next steps, Gonzalez said. The president and CEO is a paid position, while board positions such as chairwoman are not.

“As the board begins its search for the next potential successor, our focus will be on identifying a strong small business-minded candidate pool with excellence in operational efficiency, community engagement, and advocacy,” stated Gonzalez in the press release. “We will continue to effectively encourage and leverage our team and their talents to continue to advocate for small businesses and our community.”

Sánchez replaced longtime CEO Ramiro Cavazos, who took the helm of the national organization, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in September 2018.

Her departure follows a string of others from the chamber in recent months. Last summer, the manager of communications departed for a position with a weekly newspaper.

In December, the chamber’s director of marketing and communications told the Rivard Report he was leaving the chamber to work in a similar capacity with Gonzalez. In early January, the local chamber’s chief operating officer, Brianna Dimas, departed for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber, where she is vice president of programs and commerce under Cavazos. 

Last week, the chamber announced that Sánchez had hired Leonard Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Westside Development Corporation since 2013, as senior vice president of small business. Gonzalez said Rodriguez will be considered for the interim CEO job along with others. 

“We want to bring him in and let him get everything stabilized and [let] him get his feet wet a little bit, and then we’ll look at that,” Gonzalez said. “Our priority is to get somebody in place within the next couple of weeks just to kind of help with the overall operations.”

A Texas native, Sánchez moved from Miami to San Antonio in 2011 and served as a senior advisor for TriCap Partners, an independent merchant banking and alternative asset management firm based in New York, before taking the Hispanic chamber job.

At the time, the chamber board was focused on hiring someone who could bring new ideas, Gonzalez said of selecting Sánchez. “And she definitely did that – she had a very impressive CEO background and so the ideas and initiatives that she brought on for us to think about how we could grow the chamber were great. And so we appreciate that.”

Cavazos, who led the chamber for 10 years, is credited with shepherding the business group into the modern era and elevating its advocacy to an international scale. Cavazos led an annual delegation of business and political leaders to Mexico, making San Antonio one of the only U.S. cities with a direct line to the Mexican president.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.