The city department focused on fostering economic growth in San Antonio has a new leader.

Following a nationwide search that began in March, the city hired Brenda Hicks-Sorensen as director of the Economic Development Department. Monday was her first day on the job, leading the 35-member staff.

“Brenda has 20 years of proven experience in strategic planning, extensive work on public-private partnerships, and in-depth expertise in the advancement of small businesses,” stated City Manager Erik Walsh. “She brings strong leadership to the City’s Economic Development Department, which plays a critical role in San Antonio’s continued recovery from the pandemic and brings key investments to the region.”

Hicks-Sorenson is stepping into the role vacated by Alex Lopez when the city named her assistant city manager in March along with Jeff Coyle, formerly director of government and public affairs.

Hicks-Sorenson most recently served as the assistant economic development director for the City of Fort Worth for five years. There she developed and implemented the city’s first comprehensive economic development strategic plan, according to a career history provided by a spokeswoman for the City of San Antonio.

Hicks-Sorenson previously served as vice president of economic and community development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and president of the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corp.

She has a master’s degree in urban studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and she is a certified economic developer.

Lopez, Hicks-Sorenson’s predecessor, has worked for the City of San Antonio for nearly 15 years. Before leading the Economic Development Department starting in late 2019, she served as the city’s interim chief equity officer and helped create the workforce development proposition that San Antonio voters approved last November.

On Wednesday, Walsh also announced that Michael Ramsey will start Aug. 16 as the executive director of the Workforce Development Office, a new position within the city.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.