Janie Barrera, president and CEO of LiftFund, has joined the board of directors of the San Antonio Report.

Barrera was previously a member of the San Antonio Report’s community advisory board, a larger group that serves as a means to provide input and broaden the nonprofit news organization’s reach across San Antonio. Her addition as the eighth member of the board of directors comes as the San Antonio Report enters its second decade of publishing hyperlocal news. 

“Our board was resoundingly enthusiastic about Janie’s nomination due to her long-standing, genuine engagement in everything San Antonio,” said Chairman A.J. Rodriguez. “She demonstrated a passionate interest in our work as a member of our community advisory board and shares our commitment to growing the readership of the San Antonio Report.”

Barrera, a Corpus Christi native, is the founder of LiftFund, a San Antonio-based micro and small business lender that provides financial support and management training to enterprises, from startups to long established businesses. Its mission is to provide a pathway to business and financial success while helping people access those opportunities. 

Barrera founded the nonprofit community financial development institution in 1994. Since then, LiftFund has made more than 24,000 loans totaling more than $425 million. It has expanded from Texas into 14 additional states.

“LiftFund is in the best financial position that we’ve ever been in,” said Barrera. “What that does is, I can breathe a little bit better because I know that something that was created … [is] a legacy.”

Barrera joins the San Antonio Report board at a time she is preparing to step back from her role as LiftFund’s president and CEO. LiftFund’s board of directors is searching for a new CEO before Barrera’s planned retirement in January 2024. 

Last month, she received the Impact Award for Innovation on Main Street from the Association for Enterprise Opportunity for her work as “a trailblazer for implementing technological infrastructure in microfinance work.” Earlier this month, Barrera was honored with the Legacy and Merit Award at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Leadership Awards. 

Previously, Barrera has been named Small Business Administration Financial Services Advocate of the Year and the Minority Enterprise Development Consortium’s Corporate Advocate of the Year, and she was named to the Federal Reserve of Board’s National Consumer Advisory Council. 

In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Barrera to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, and in 2015, Barrera was inducted into the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame.

Barrera is no stranger to the nonprofit news sector. In 1984, Barrera helped found two nonprofit radio stations, KLUX, of Corpus Christi, and KHOY, of Laredo, both of which are operating today. 

“A not-for-profit organization does not belong to staff. It belongs to the community,” she said. “The governance of a not-for-profit resides in the board of directors, so I’m fully cognizant of the great responsibility of a board member in any nonprofit organization. I don’t take that lightly.”

Barrera’s commitment to the San Antonio Report lies partly in the fact that it is a relative newcomer to the city’s media landscape, she said. 

“I appreciate all the work and the effort that has to go into startups and the work that’s involved in making sure that there’s a good base and that base becomes stronger as the [Report] grows, and the commitment of saying ‘Yes, this is a good thing for our community, and we need to keep it alive,’” said Barrera. 

San Antonio Report Publisher and CEO Angie Mock said Barrera’s addition to the board comes as part of an effort to intentionally grow and diversify.

“We’ve made a firm commitment to earning the time and trust of our community by providing useful and informative news and perspectives that spur interest and action in the San Antonio area,” said Mock. “Janie is a perfect addition to our board of directors to help achieve those long-term strategic goals, and we are so honored to have her.” 

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.