A crowd fills the Barnes & Noble tent at the 6th annual San Antonio Book Festival
A crowd fills the Barnes & Noble tent at the sixth annual San Antonio Book Festival in April 2018. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Marking a new chapter, the San Antonio Book Festival announced Monday that Lilly Gonzalez will serve as the organization’s new executive director, the first change in leadership since the festival’s founding in 2013.

Gonzalez succeeds founding executive director Katy Flato, who is assuming the role of chairman of the festival’s nine-member board. Gonzalez joined the San Antonio Book Festival as communications director in 2015 and previously served as deputy executive director.

“Since I met Lilly, I knew she would be the one to take over the running of the Festival,” Flato told the Rivard Report. “[Her personal experiences, professional background,] and lifelong passion for reading all add up to the perfect champion of San Antonio’s most successful and important literary event.”

Lilly Gonzalez will serve as the San Antonio Book Festival’s new executive director.
Lilly Gonzalez is the new executive director of the San Antonio Book Festival.

Since its inception seven years ago, the book festival has grown from 64 authors and 4,000 festival-goers in 2013 to 96 authors and 22,000 attendees in 2018, and programming expanded to include additional storytelling and opportunities for book lovers to connect more deeply with the authors at intimate luncheons and fundraising events.

Gonzalez said her charge will be to “address the Festival’s growing pains with solutions that are true to the vision.”

“We like that the San Antonio Book Festival has a smaller feel,” she added. “You can easily get from one session to another, and it feels compact and sort of has this neighborhood charm. We are proud that [the festival] is growing tremendously, and we want to keep it very San Antonio – very intimate.”

Flato said Gonzalez will also be tasked with growing support in the community and increasing outreach at local schools.

“We need to make sure that we have the impact we want on our community by building relationships with young readers, in addition to making sure that San Antonio is seen as a literary destination” by recruiting the right authors as well as patron and donor support, Flato said.

The seventh annual San Antonio Book Festival will take place April 6 at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art.

“Books can transform someone at any age,” Gonzalez said. “You are never alone if you have a book. You can find yourself, lose yourself, and learn something about yourself in a book. I am the product of books. They can save lives.”

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.