Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced five final hires for his office on Friday, including Southwest Regional Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Marisa Bono as chief of policy, former land use professional Victoria Gonzalez as senior policy advisor, former Director of Constituent Services to Mayor Julián Castro Sarah McLornan as director of constituent services, and his former District 8 staffers Jackie Bolds and Alice Aguirre as executive assistants.
Bono, a San Antonio native, is described as a “legal powerhouse” who has worked on cases “involving educational equity, immigration, and political access,” according to a news release. Most recently, she was working on the lawsuit that MALDEF filed – which San Antonio and other cities have joined – challenging the “sanctuary cities” law.
She’s currently living in Santa Fe, N. M. for nine weeks representing, on behalf of MALDEF, parents and children of various cities across the state that have sued the state for under-funding public schools in Martinez v. New Mexico.
“I think [I’m] probably a bold choice for him,” Bono told the Rivard Report on Friday, noting her involvement in controversial legal cases and civil rights. “But this is also an important moment in San Antonio’s history. Voters sent a clear message in support of [Nirenberg’s] message of inclusivity and diversity.”
While working with the mayor to implement his policy agenda, she will have an “emphasis on a range of issues, including public safety, ethics reform, transportation, housing, and more.”
A more focused priority list will be developed in mid-August when she begins work in the mayor’s office, she said. “I’m still very much working for MALDEF in another state.”
Bono has a law degree and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rice University.
“Marisa brings invaluable expertise, and understands the importance of public service and working on the behalf of those in need,” Nirenberg stated. “She will be instrumental in helping us focus on solutions that will improve the lives of all San Antonians.”
MALDEF is sorry to see Bono leave, “but we know that she will accomplish great things for San Antonio,” stated Thomas Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.
The hires round out an “experienced, diverse team that will help execute [Nirenberg’s] policy vision” for the city. In June, he named former San Antonio Express-News editorial page editor Bruce Davidson as director of communications, his former District 8 Communications Director Maria Luisa Cesar as senior policy advisor and deputy communications director. Cesar was previously an education writer for the Express-News. Nirenberg hired his Deputy Campaign Manager Juany Torres as senior policy advisor and director of community engagement.
“I think you can tell a lot about his vision for the office in the picks that he’s already made,” Bono said. “He has a staff that is very diverse – not just in terms of race or gender, but also professionally and a very broad background in terms of skills and expertise.”
Gonzalez worked for the real estate law firm Golden Steves & Gordon and has a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and economics from Trinity University.
McLornan, who also will serve as a senior policy advisor for Nirenberg, has worked with the San Antonio Tricentennial Commission for two years and holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Austin.
Bolds and Aguirre both have extensive experience with the City of San Antonio, according to the release. “Bolds has worked with five previous San Antonio mayors and Aguirre has worked for the City of San Antonio for more than 15 years.”