Kate Rogers, a former H-E-B executive, has been selected as executive director of the Alamo Trust. Credit: Michael Cirlos for the San Antonio Report

Kate Rogers, a former H-E-B executive and key figure in San Antonio educational initiatives, has been selected to lead Alamo Trust, the Alamo’s nonprofit steward.

Rogers confirmed Monday that she has accepted the leadership role left vacant by Doug McDonald, who resigned as Alamo Trust CEO last year amid a stalled redevelopment effort. Rogers’ selection comes with a new title for the position: executive director.

Rogers, who begins work Wednesday, takes the helm of a nonprofit steward set up by the Texas General Land Office to oversee day-to-day operations and help steer the redevelopment, reporting to Hector Valle, senior deputy director at the GLO. She’ll oversee a staff of roughly 100.

Rogers said in an interview Monday she’s spending the week “just getting to know the staff” and “trying to do as much reading as I possibly can” to learn more about the Alamo Plan and all the players involved.

Of the contentious Alamo redevelopment, Rogers said the 1836 Battle of the Alamo has to remain the “central focus” of the site “because of its importance and the legacy of it, and the impact it has on our pride as Texans and the way we think about ourselves.”

“However, as you know, there’s a 300-year history to that facility that of course includes the battle but goes beyond that,” Rogers said. “That is also a core part of our heritage.”

The Alamo redevelopment has also become an arena for Texas identity politics, with different sides jockeying over whose historical interpretation of the Texas Revolution will be most predominant in the finished product. The 1930s-era Alamo Cenotaph monument has served as a particularly divisive totem, with a fight over its relocation stalling its redevelopment last year.

“I think it’s because there’s a lot of emotion that surrounds the Alamo, for a lot of different reasons,” Rogers said. “It means different things to different people. And anytime you’re trying to work through a complicated negotiation process and there’s emotion involved, it can be hard to reach consensus.”

Following a September vote by the Texas Historical Commission that blocked the relocation of the Cenotaph, Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced a shakeup of key Alamo committees, removing Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who took a hard line against leaving the Cenotaph in place.

In a statement Monday, Nirenberg described Rogers as an “excellent choice” for the position.

“She brings important experience and a proven record of leadership,” Nirenberg said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who has advocated for the redevelopment to keep Alamo Plaza open as a public space and preserve historic State-owned buildings on its western edge, said, “They couldn’t have hired anybody better” for the Alamo Trust role.

“She has a good background, has a lot of connections, knows everybody in town, so I think she’ll do a great job there,” Wolff said of Rogers.

The City, the GLO, and Alamo Trust are now discussing how to amend a 2018 lease agreement between the City and GLO. Officials have said the language will stipulate how the redevelopment can proceed with the Cenotaph left in place.

“Everyone tells me, ‘Congratulations – I think,’” Rogers said of the reaction she’s heard since accepting the position. “There’s no shortage of complexity.”

Rogers brings a history of business and nonprofit experience, including serving as the founding president from 2017 to 2019 of the Holdsworth Center, started by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt as a leadership training institute for public school administrators. She also served as the vice president of community outreach and engagement for the Charles Butt Foundation.

“It gave me the opportunity to really take a plan that had been envisioned for an organization and bring the plan to life,” Rogers said of her position with the Holdsworth Center. “That also included a significant undertaking of designing the buildings, the campus.”

Rogers also served on a variety of nonprofit boards during her 19 years with H-E-B, which she left in 2017 after nine years as vice president of communications and health promotion. Rogers is currently a board member of the San Antonio Report.

Rogers grew up in Corpus Christi and said the Alamo Trust role hearkens back to her first job as a public relations manager for the Texas State Aquarium.

“It was to this day one of my favorite jobs, working at an attraction that was educational in nature but also meant a lot to the people of Corpus Christi,” Rogers said.

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.