Celebrating the Vibrancy of the Southside: Makers & Shakers of 2023

San Antonio’s Southside boasts a vibrant community of creators, hard workers, and inspiring individuals who leave an indelible mark on the Alamo City. Our Southside Makers and Shakers blog series is a tribute to these remarkable individuals, each contributing to the uniqueness that defines our beloved community.

As we reflect on this year of community, connection, and collaboration, join us in a final round of applause for the dynamic and influential people who have made the Southside shine with joy. Here’s a recap of our Makers & Shakers participants this year:

A coffee mug with the tandem logo appears in front of colorful coffee shop in San Antonio.

1. Tandem

A collective of San Antonio natives, Tandem opened its doors to create a community space with a laid-back atmosphere, exceptional coffee, and an impressive selection of beers. They proudly support the arts, small businesses, entrepreneurs, bicyclists, and all things local.

Realtor Smile Orosco stands amongst friends at a fiesta in San Antonio

2. Smiley Orozco

A proud Southside native and realtor, Smiley Orozco is dedicated to serving the community. As a father of two college graduates, one from Texas A&M University-San Antonio and another from the University of Texas, he looks forward to involving them in the family business.

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Director, Sara Pruneda Beesley

3. Sara Pruneda Beesley

Sara Pruneda Beesley’s journey began at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in 2013 and now she is a passionate Director dedicated to connecting people to nature through community education and conservation, focused on birds and the places they need. Beyond her role, Sara is on a mission to showcase the Southside’s charm, and bring essential resources to the community. The Southside is not just her workplace; it’s home, a space she is dedicated to sharing and uplifting.

Founder of The Parting Planner poses for a portrait

4. Lynn Blanco Pérez

Founder of The Parting Planner, Lynn Blanco Pérez provides event planning services specializing in celebrations of life and memorial services in San Antonio. Motivated by personal experiences, she recognizes the need for compassionate assistance during challenging times.

April Monterrosa smiles with a guest in front of a sculpture on the Southside5. April Monterrosa

Author, speaker, radio personality, and community advocate, April Monterrosa is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Live from the Southside Magazine. As a Latina civic leader, she has been honored by the 87th Texas Legislature for her contributions.

Roxie Freeman high fives students

6. Roxie Freeman

With 16 years in education, Roxie Freeman has evolved from a special education teacher to a principal. Her dedication to making a difference in students’ lives is fueled by the desire to be the adult she needed during her own school days.

Sara Briseño Gerrish takes a selfie with a small dog in front of the Re/Max sign7. Sara Briseño Gerrish

Sara Briseño Gerrish, a second-generation real estate broker and owner of RE/MAX Unlimited, has been serving the community for over 25 years. She is also a partner at Tandem, contributing to the vibrant Southside Mission District.

Sarita Zuniga

8. Sarita Zúñiga

With over 60 years in the dance and fitness field, Sarita Zúñiga has left an indelible mark on the Southside. As the founder of Alegría Dance Company, she received a Congressional Award in 2014 for providing valuable dance training to the community for 34 years.

Davida S. Smyth, PhD Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology Department of Life Sciences Texas A&M University, San Antonio

9. Dr. Davida Smyth

Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Dr. Davida Smyth is a professor at Texas A&M University – San Antonio. Her commitment to inclusive teaching and research, focusing on real-world issues, empowers students to become effective scientists.

Southside Maker & Shaker Flor E. Gutierrez

10. Flor E. Gutiérrez

Born in Mexico and an educator on the Southside for over 15 years, Flor E. Gutiérrez is the founding superintendent of Celebrate Dyslexia Schools. Her mission is to provide an enriching and safe environment for dyslexic children, serving a historically marginalized community.

Thank you for joining us to celebrate the diversity and accomplishments of these remarkable Southsiders who continue to shape the vibrant tapestry of San Antonio. As we bid farewell to 2023, we await a new year with exciting stories of inspiration in 2024. From all of us at VIDA San Antonio, we’re wishing you a joyful holiday season and a prosperous New Year. Here’s to another year of celebrating the unique individuals who make our community truly special.


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