Hundreds gather at Mission San José for the 2014 Rose Window Award Gala. Photo by Robert Rivard.
Hundreds gather at Mission San José for the 2014 Rose Window Award Gala. Photo by Robert Rivard.

With San Antonio’s unique history opening new avenues to future opportunity, the City of San Antonio is recruiting two new key executives, one to serve as director of World Heritage, the other to serve as director of the Tricentennial Office, two new offices that will oversee efforts to celebrate the nexus of culture, history and economic opportunity.

The Tricentennial director will report to City Manager Sheryl Sculley and the director of World Heritage will report to Assistant City Manager Lori Houston. City directors earn six-figure compensation packages that include vehicle and cell phone allowances and other benefits. Until now, the organizational structure behind local efforts to win the World Heritage designation has been a World Heritage Advisory Committee that worked closely with federal officials in Washington D.C. to assemble the successful U.S. application filed with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The new job postings come as the City also is making plans to host its second World Heritage community symposium on Saturday, Dec. 5, 9- a.m.-12 p.m., at the STEM High School in the Harlandale Independent School District, located at 4440 Apollo Rd. along Roosevelt Boulevard in front of Harlandale Memorial Stadium. Unlike the first symposium, held Oct. 31 at the UTSA Downtown Campus, the second event will not be a moderated panel discussion before an audience. The next gathering will feature hands-on breakout sessions focusing on three distinct areas of interest related to World Heritage development: small business development, marketing, and infrastructure and wayfinding. A third symposium the City is planning for late January or early February will focus on land use and development.

All of the events are free and open to the public.

The City’s new director positions are being created less than five months after San Antonio’s four Spanish colonial Missions and the Alamo were formally named a World Heritage site at the 39th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany on July 5. The unanimous vote was a triumphant conclusion to a multi-year effort that included restoration of the Mission churches and the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River, and expansion of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Watch the official vote and inscription here.

Meanwhile, San Antonio will celebrate its 300th anniversary May 1-5, 2018. Preparations already are underway with a City-appointed Tricentennial Commission and Task Force that has grown from three to five co-chairs, and a Tricentennial Office in the city manager’s office led for now by Interim Director Edward Benavides. Until now, planning for the Tricentennial has been largely a volunteer effort. Mayor Ivy Taylor announced the creation of the Tricentennial Commission and the Tricentennial Organizing Committee in April. The commission will meet next on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 9-11 a.m., at the Plaza de Armas Building.

Director of World Heritage

Councilmember Rebecca Viagran (D3), whose district includes the four Missions, attended the annual World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, held Nov. 3-6, in Arequipa, Peru. The organization is the international non-profit group of 250 cities that are home to one of the 1,031 World Heritage sites. Viagran returned from her fact-finding trip with information about best practices adopted in other cities after they won World Heritage designation.

District 3 City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran addresses media gathered at the Síclovía 2014 route announcement. Photo by Randy Bear.
Councilmember Rebecca Viagran. Photo by Randy Bear.

Assigning an individual with the organizational skills and resources to manage the many challenges that come with the distinction is considered an important first step. The City’s job posting indicates the new director’s duties will include hiring staff and establishing a capital and general budget.

There are not many U.S. metro areas to turn to study successful World Heritage sites. San Antonio is one of only three U.S. cities with a World Heritage site: New York is home to the Statue of Liberty; Philadelphia is home to Independence Hall; and Charlottesville, VA is home to Monticello and the University of Virginia. UNESCO also lists San Juan, Puerto Rico’s La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site as one of the 23 U.S. World Heritage sites. The remaining 19 U.S. sites are located within state and national parks or are former indigenous population centers or spiritual centers. San Antonio is home to the only World Heritage site in Texas.

The City’s online job posting for the director of World Heritage notes, “According to UNESCO, the Missions are ‘an example of the interweaving of Spanish and Coahuiltecan cultures, illustrated by a variety of features, including the decorative elements of churches, which combine Catholic symbols with indigenous designs inspired by nature.’ This designation represents a monumental moment for San Antonio and a unique opportunity to share our history and culture with the world.”

Interested candidates can click on the above link to review the general requirements and responsibilities. Applications can be submitted by email to

San Antonio Missions Roundtable

The San Antonio Missions have spurred the City’s cultural and economic growth for centuries, but community members and officials worry the designation may attract rapid, insensitive development. The Alliance for San Antonio Missions, a grass-roots organization, will meet with City officials and citizens to discuss a future of meaningful development during the San Antonio Missions Roundtable on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Mission San Juan. Photo by Scott Ball.
Mission San Juan. Photo by Scott Ball.

Director of Tricentennial Office

The City of San Antonio will Celebrate its 300th Anniversary May 1-5, 2018. Mission San Antonio de Valero was established at its original site along San Pedro Creek on May 1, 1718, which will be the focus of the first day’s celebrations. The Mission was later moved to its present site, and after its decommissioning in 1793 as a church mission, it later became a military depot eventually known as the Alamo. May 5, 1718 is the founding date of the San Antonio de Béxar Presidio and the Villa de Béxar civil settlement that eventually became the city of San Antonio, and will be the second big day of festivities.

San Antonio celebrated its 25oth anniversary with HemisFair ’68.

The Tricentennial Commission includes five co-chairs and 14 members and is supported by the 24-member Task Force, composed of individuals from the public sector, non-profit, art, culture and philanthropic groups.

“While Tricentennial events and ideas are currently being developed, plans for the celebration already include the creation of a Tricentennial website, a commemorative book to be published in 2017, visits from national and international dignitaries as well as representatives from San Antonio’s nine Sister Cities. San Antonio celebrated it’s 250th Anniversary during Hemisfair ‘68, an event that raised the visibility of San Antonio across the globe and significantly changed the look and feel of the City,” The City’s job posting notes. “The Tricentennial office will provide staff support to the Tricentennial Commission and the Tricentennial Organizing Committee by researching celebration possibilities, coordinating events, forming partnerships, recruiting sponsors and helping to ensure that San Antonio celebrates its Tricentennial in a fashion becoming its history and heritage.”

Interested candidates can click on the above link to review the general requirements and responsibilities. Applications can be submitted by email to

Featured photo: Hundreds gather at Mission San José for the 2014 Rose Window Award Gala. Photo by Robert Rivard.

Related Stories:

City Convenes First World Heritage Symposium

San Antonio’s World Heritage Balancing Act

Lessons from Other World Heritage Sites

Mission San José Neighbors: Apartments Too Close for Comfort

Native Americans to Guide San Antonio Mission Tours

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.