SARA Assistant General Manager Steve Graham will feature in a Thursday panel regarding local disaster response efforts.
SARA Assistant General Manager Steve Graham will feature in a Thursday panel regarding local disaster response efforts. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Take a look behind the scenes of local disaster planning, learn about the polling efforts of Bexar Facts, tune in for pandemic solutions and coverage, and listen to a special musical performance during Thursday’s slate of San Antonio CityFest events.

The third annual San Antonio CityFest, a virtual urban ideas festival, runs through Friday. Its weeklong lineup of events, panel discussions, and entertainment features an array of topics including public health, business and job growth, transportation and development, and recovery from the economic and health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.

All CityFest 2020 programming is free and open to the public, with pre-registration required. Once attendees are registered they will receive an email giving them access to the festival web app. Registered attendees are also invited to download the Whova app for more opportunities to network, ask the panelists questions, and take the festival anywhere they go.

10 a.m.

Thursday’s lineup will begin with a detailed look at how the city addresses local disasters. San Antonio Report Senior Environmental Reporter Brendan Gibbons will be joined by Steve Graham, San Antonio River Authority assistant general manager; Ana Sandoval, City Councilwoman (D7); and Nefi Garza, City of San Antonio Public Works Department – Storm Water Division PE and assistant director, for “A Place of Refuge: San Antonio’s Role in Addressing Local Disasters.”


As polarization continues to grow in 2020 from widespread issues, how do we take the pulse of residents and their ever-evolving feelings on the issues of the day? Enter: Bexar Facts, a local polling organization that began this year with the mission of amplifying the voices of Bexar County.

“Bexar Facts: Amplify Your Voice” panelists Demonte Alexander, Bexar Facts external affairs director; Liza Barratachea, of Bexar Facts; Sherrika Arch, Straight Line Management presidents and owner; Marcie Treviño, of SATX Consultants; and Emily Christy, of SoftBank Group International, will join moderator JJ Velasquez, San Antonio Report’s audience engagement editor, to discuss the organization’s efforts.

1:05 p.m.

Since the beginning of the year, the United States has seen a pandemic begin, social justice issues reignited, and heightened scrutiny of election security following the 2016 election.

San Antonio Report reporter Jackie Wang will moderate a discussion between panelists Coda Rayo-Garza, Council for Foreign Relations term member; Jacquelyn F. Callanen, Bexar County Elections Department elections administrator; H. Drew Galloway, MOVE Texas executive director; and Michelle Tremillo, Texas Organizing Project executive director, regarding voter turnout, access, security, and perceptions around voting in “Vote 2020: Going to the Polls in the Time of Staying Home.

3 p.m.

The “Smart Testing: Taming the Pandemic” conversation will focus on the development of the new Community Labs project, spearheaded by speaker Graham Weston’s 80|20 Foundation, the Kronkosky Foundation, the Tobin Endowment, and BioBridge Global, to create solutions for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

San Antonio Report Editor and Publisher Robert Rivard will moderate the conversation with Weston; J. Tullos Wells, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation managing director; J. Bruce Bugg Jr., Tobin Endowment chairman and trustee; and Dr. Rachel Beddard, BioBridge Global senior vice president and chief medical officer.

4:30 p.m.

San Antonio Report Arts and Culture Reporter Nicholas Frank will be joined by musical artists and married couple Angela Guerra Walley and Mark Lee Walley for “A Performance by Dreambored,” featuring a sneak peak of their debut album, Loved Ones, set to release Oct. 16.

5 p.m.

Texas-based reporters will discuss “Covering the News” in the middle of a pandemic and the climate surrounding journalism during this time. Velasquez will be joined by Silvia Foster-Frau, San Antonio Express-News immigration reporter; Joey Palacios, Texas Public Radio local government reporter; Stacy Fernández, The Texas Tribune breaking news reporter; and Emily Donaldson, San Antonio Report education reporter.

The full schedule is available here.


Samantha Ruvalcaba

Samantha Ruvalcaba, who grew up in San Antonio, is a Shiner intern and junior at St. Mary's University studying international and global studies with a minor in communications.