The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) elected Michael Lackey as board chairman Thursday, filling the seat left by Sally Buchanan, who passed away recently after a five-year battle with melanoma.

Lackey comes with years of leadership experience, having served as a member of the San Antonio Water System Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2009. He also is a board member of the San Antonio River Foundation where he recently served as chairman of the foundation’s board of directors.

Lackey will serve as the River Authority board chairman until November 2017, when the seat is up for election. Since the River Authority is a State-run organization, the governor must appoint a replacement for the Bexar County At-Large position vacancy left by Buchanan also during the 2017 River Authority election.

Lackey is a principal at Lackey de Carvajal Cx, a firm of LEED-certified energy efficiency engineers. His work involves verifying that energy and water efficiency are achieved in complex building systems, reducing CO2 emissions, and improving indoor environmental quality.

Newly appointed San Antonio River Authority Board Chairman Michael Lackey. Photo courtesy of San Antonio River Authority.
Michael Lackey

“I’m humbled by the support and confidence given to me by the board,” Lackey stated in a news release Thursday. “However, this is a bittersweet moment. Sally was a dear friend. She had a passion for the acequias and area history, which made her such a great advocate for the River. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as SARA’s Chairman, and I will do my best to build upon Sally’s strong legacy.”

Buchanan, always an advocate for revitalization projects, was on the River Foundation’s board of directors from 1999-2016 and served as president from 2013. She also devoted her time to Downtown Alliance, the San Antonio Conservation Society, The Witte Museum, and a multitude of other nonprofit organizations.

River Authority General Manager Suzanne Scott praised Lackey’s appointment as board chairman.

“Having served on the Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Operations Committee, Mike has a thorough understanding of the agency and he is deeply committed to SARA’s vision of inspiring actions for healthy creeks and rivers,” she stated.

Lackey will help lead the organization, which has a proposed budget of more than $145 million. The most visible project that he will help oversee is the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, which is scheduled to break ground on Sept.8. With a price tag of $175 million and cooperation with various other agencies, the project will be Lackey’s first test in leadership.

Other projects that are of high priority for the River Authority include the continued operation of Museum Reach and Mission Reach activities, the sustainable watersheds implementation program, and the Edwards Aquifer Protection Proposition.

The River Authority’s board also approved new executive committee assignments, which include Gaylon Oehlke (Karnes County) as vice chairman, Hector Morales (Bexar County At-Large) as secretary, and Darrell Brownlow (Wilson County) as treasurer. Lourdes Galvan (Bexar County District 2) and Dr. James Fuller (Goliad County) serve as at-large members on the committee.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Lackey was a member of the River Authority board of trustees from 2001 to 2009, but he was a member of the San Antonio Water System board during that time.

Top Image: Kayakers paddle down the San Antonio River.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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James McCandless

Former intern James McCandless is a recent St. Mary's University graduate. He has worked with the San Antonio Current and Texas Public Radio.