San Antonio River Foundation executive director Robert Amerman, is stepping down from his role at the end of the month, the organization announced Thursday.

Amerman has led the nonprofit fundraising arm of the San Antonio River Authority for the past two and a half years, but started with the foundation as a volunteer in 2011. He played a key role in the 2018 opening of Confluence Park.

“I was involved in that project for the last probably seven years,” he said. “What an extraordinary team of individuals that came together to create that project. We saw that through from conception to implementation. It’s an incredible gift to San Antonio and to see San Antonio to embrace it has been so rewarding.”

Amerman previously worked as an architect, artist, and became a partner of his New York-based technology firm, Third Mind, in 1996.

Confluence Park Director Frates Seeligson will assume the executive director title following Amerman’s departure. Seeligson has worked with the foundation in different capacities for 12 years.

Seeligson said working with Amerman has given him the confidence that he will be able to serve as executive director.

“Robert has left the foundation in such a good position,” he said. “We’ve worked so well together over these past three years, and change is never seamless, but with our staff in place and with all of these initiatives that he completed, the transition is going to be as smooth as you’d ever hope for.”

Seeligson will continue performing the duties of Confluence Park director along with the foundation’s program and outreach director Kelley Phillips. He anticipates that the need for a director can be phased out soon.

Amerman said he is thrilled that Seeligson will be taking the reins.

“I couldn’t be more supportive of Frates’ ascension here,” Amerman said. “He’s a wonderful friend and colleague, and will be a wonderful leader. I’m so excited for the foundation’s future in Frates’ hands.”

Frates Seeligson, Director of Confluence Park
Frates Seeligson will be succeed Robert Amerman as executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Brice Moczygemba, the outgoing board chair of the River Foundation, said he expects Seeligson to continue Amerman’s work.

“While I appreciate the tangible accomplishments Robert achieved, I am most appreciative for the relationships he fostered and the spirit of pride he instilled in his staff and the board of directors in accomplishing the mission of the San Antonio River Foundation,” Moczygemba said in a statement. “Simply put, Robert will be missed.”

Amerman’s leadership has resulted in successful projects such as the CoCobijos art installation and Árbol De La Vida: Memorias y Voces de la Tierra just north of Mission Espada. But he hopes to be remembered for his transparent management style and collaborative nature, he said. He also has been encouraged by the perspective shift from the community since he started at the river foundation.

“People used to say ‘River Walk,’” he said. “Now people say ‘river.’ There’s a much larger sensibility to that – people are talking about the full 240-mile entity. They’re not just talking about the [downtown] loop. From my perspective, people speaking in those terms are people that are going to become better stewards, better engaged, and more sensitive to natural resource management. It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s a distinction worth making.”

Robert Amerman, Executive Director of the San Antonio River Foundation, points out Downtown San Antonio on the river map located on the side of the Estela Avery Education Center at Confluence Park.
Robert Amerman, outgoing executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation, points out the location of downtown San Antonio on a Watershed Wall located at Confluence Park by artist Stuart Allen.  Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Amerman said he hopes to find a way to continue to participate in the events and tours of Confluence Park as a volunteer.

“I love telling the story of that park, and I love watching the kids light up,” he said. “Their sense of wonder and aspiration comes from it has been so rewarding. Hopefully I’ll find a way to keep telling the park’s story, [but] I think I need to decompress a little bit before I find my way on that.”

Amerman officially leaves the foundation on June 30.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.