Jenny Carnes was in her last semester at the University of the Incarnate Word when she began an internship at San Antonio Sports, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting sports in the city. She stuck around, and some 23 years later became the organization’s choice as its next president and CEO. 

Carnes, currently the nonprofit’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, was announced Tuesday as the successor to Russ Bookbinder, who announced his retirement last month after about 10 years leading the organization. She will take over in January as Bookbinder relocates to Waco to spend more time with his family and grandchildren.

San Antonio Sports has worked since 1984 to put the city on the map in the sports world by bringing to town seven men’s and women’s NCAA Final Fours, the annual Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio Marathon, the new L’Étape by Tour de France bike race and other events. The organization also provides sports and fitness programs for youth, encouraging them and their families to become and stay active.

“My overall vision is to carry the organization forward to continue to succeed,” Carnes said.

Carnes, a Uvalde native, came to San Antonio in 1995 when she was offered a scholarship at UIW. She was an All-American on the university’s nationally ranked basketball team and a member of the tennis team. In 1999, her first project as an intern was working on San Antonio’s bid to host the Pan American Games. 

Carnes began working full-time for the organization to help plan the 2002 NCAA women’s Final Four and since then, has worked on every Final Four hosted in San Antonio. She served as executive director of the 2008 and 2018 men’s Final Fours and 2010 and 2021 women’s Final Fours. 

While leading the local organizing committee, Carnes served as director of event operations and bids and as vice president of events and bids. Carnes played a key role in the San Antonio area being selected to host the entire 64-team 2021 women’s NCAA basketball tournament, a move made to minimize travel during the pandemic.

“I really have seen it from bottom to top,” said Carnes. “I’m also incredibly fortunate to have learned from some of our great leaders that have led this organization or been a part of this organization for years.”

In the meantime, Carnes will use her transition time to work with Bookbinder on handing things off. 

“Jenny Carnes will take the baton and continue to raise the bar for the organization and its impact on our community,” stated Bookbinder in a press release. “She has been invaluable to me and our leadership team and deserves much credit for the successes we have achieved during my 10-year tenure. As I sit on my rocking chair in Waco, I will be cheering for her and the San Antonio Sports team.“

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.