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The Texas Challenge: Leading Cities Safely Through the Pandemic

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Oscar Leeser
City of El Paso, Mayor

Mayor Oscar Leeser assumed office on January 5, 2021. His current term ends on January 7, 2025. He previously served as Mayor of El Paso from 2013 to 2017.  After retreating from public life to deal with some personal health issues, he returned in a new run for Mayor, winning the election with 80% of the vote.  Mayor Leeser was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and arrived in El Paso with his family at 9-years-old speaking no English. He is now the owner and operator of the largest Hispanic Hyundai dealership in the nation, and is serving his second term as Mayor in one of the most diverse and progressive international border regions in the world. He believes in leading with integrity, transparency, fiscal responsibility and a no-nonsense business approach to management.

Mattie Parker
City of Fort Worth, Mayor

Mattie Parker is the founding CEO of Fort Worth Cradle to Career and the Tarrant To & Through (T3) Partnership, which aims to ensure more students have the training needed to thrive in today’s workforce. Mattie has fifteen years of experience in national, state and local public affairs, including chief of staff for the Fort Worth Mayor and City Council where she led successful efforts to improve efficiency at City Hall. She serves on the board of directors for The Gatehouse’s Legacy Early Learning Academy, Read Fort Worth, Operation Progress - Fort Worth, and ACH Child and Family Services.

Mattie and her husband, David, have one daughter and two sons. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and has a law degree from Texas A&M University School of Law where she was awarded the prestigious MacLean & Boulware Endowed Law Scholarship.

Ron Nirenberg
City of San Antonio, Mayor

Ron Nirenberg is the mayor of San Antonio, which has the 7th largest population in the United States and is one of the nation’s fastest growing cities.

Mayor Nirenberg is the first San Antonio Mayor of Asian Pacific Islander descent. His mother is Filipino and his paternal grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe who passed through Ellis Island.

Through his personal experiences, Mayor Nirenberg developed a core commitment to civic participation and the universal values of liberty, justice, and equal opportunity for every person.

First elected in 2017, Mayor Nirenberg was re-elected to a third term on May 1, 2021.

Under his leadership as mayor, the city has adopted an equity framework in budgeting to reduce poverty, improve public health, and overcome historical socioeconomic inequality. He is focused on making key investments necessary to accommodate San Antonio’s growth, which is expected to nearly double the city’s population by 2040. This forward-looking approach drives the mayor’s vision of a compassionate community with a globally competitive economy.

The Mayor’s policy priorities include workforce development. In 2020, he successfully championed SA Ready to Work, a four-year workforce development program approved by 77 percent of voters and funded without raising the tax rate.

Mayor Nirenberg also played a leading role crafting a long-term solution in 2020 for funding the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program.

In 2017, Mayor Nirenberg created the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force seeking to ensure that all San Antonians, regardless of income level, can find quality affordable housing within the city limits. The task force recommendations were approved by City Council in 2018.

In an effort to combat the effects of global climate change, Mayor Nirenberg spearheaded a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in October 2019. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Nirenberg joined the Climate Mayors Steering Committee, a group of 24 mayors who will serve as a leading voice in efforts to further climate action in the more than 400 cities across the U.S. that make up the Climate Mayors coalition.

Grist, a nonprofit media organization, named Mayor Nirenberg one of the Grist 50 in 2020, recognizing him as an emerging leader on climate change in the United States.

In 2018, the United States Conference of Mayors honored Mayor Nirenberg with the Small Business Advocate award for his efforts to encourage entrepreneurism.

Mayor Nirenberg is the immediate-past Chairman of Sister Cities International, a nonpartisan organization that connects cities across the globe through civic, educational and cultural exchanges. The City of San Antonio enjoys active and productive Sister City relationships with 11 cities worldwide, and Mayor Nirenberg has been a participant in establishing productive, people-to-people relationships through global community partnerships and volunteer action.

He was first elected to represent District 8 on the San Antonio City Council in 2013. During his two terms, he championed smart city and regional planning, inclusive economic development, environmental stewardship, fiscal responsibility and governmental accountability. As councilman, he brought together a public-private coalition to save the world-renowned Bracken Bat Cave, the largest colony of bats in the world.

Prior to his public service, Mayor Nirenberg was the founder of two small-businesses, worked as the general manager of KRTU-FM San Antonio, and served as a program director for the Annenberg Public Policy Center where he developed and directed award-winning civic engagement programs.

Mayor Nirenberg graduated summa cum laude from Trinity University and received a Master’s Degree in Communication magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. He grew up in Austin, Texas.

He and his wife, First Lady Erika Prosper, are the proud parents of their son, Jonah.

Steve Adler
City of Austin, Mayor

Our kickoff CityFest event invites Texas mayors to discuss the challenge of leading cities through the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, the reliability of our electric grid as we head into another potentially record-breaking winter, and the continuing challenges to home rule from state elected leaders and the Texas Legislature. The panel, moderated by Reporter Jackie Wang, invites audience questions and will be streamed on YouTube and Facebook. Panelists include: 

  • Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City of San Antonio

  • Mayor Steve Adler, City of Austin  

  • Mayor Oscar Leeser, City of El Paso

  • Mayor Mattie Parker, City of Fort Worth