Skip to Content

Featured Speakers

Julián Castro

Mayor Julián Castro, City of San Antonio
Mayor Julián Castro, City of San Antonio

A 39-year-old San Antonio native, Mayor Julián Castro is the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city. First elected on May 9, 2009, Mayor Castro was handily re-elected to a third term in 2013.

Throughout his tenure, Mayor Castro has focused on attracting well-paying jobs in 21st century industries, positioning San Antonio to be a leader in the New Energy Economy and raising educational attainment across the spectrum.

Mayor Castro created SA2020, a community-wide visioning effort turned nonprofit that has galvanized thousands of San Antonians around a simple, but powerful vision for San Antonio - to create a brainpower community that is the liveliest city in the nation.

Under his leadership, the city established Café College, a one-stop center offering high-quality guidance on college admissions, financial aid and standardized test preparation to any student in the San Antonio area. Since opening in 2010, Café College has served more than 25,000 area students.

In March 2010, Mayor Castro joined executives from Google and Twitter in being named to the World Economic Forum's list of Young Global Leaders. Later that year, Time magazine placed him on its "40 under 40" list of rising starts in American politics. Mayor Castro also is a member of the Inter-American Dialogue, an Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellow and serves on the board of the LBJ Foundation.

Mayor Castro earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University with honors and distinction in 1996 and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 2000. In 2001, at the age of 26, Castro became the youngest elected city councilman at that time in San Antonio history.

Don McPherson

Mayor Julián Castro, City of San Antonio
Don McPherson

For more than 20 years, Don McPherson has used the power and appeal of sport to address complex social issues. McPherson has paralleled a highly decorated football career with cutting-edge work on vital and contemporary issues that impact the lives of every American. With testimony before the US Congress, appearances on national news, the Oprah Winfrey show and lectures across North America, McPherson has reached more than 1 million people.

He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988 after a college career at Syracuse University during which he won the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and finished second in the 1987 Heisman Trophy voting. He also played for the Houston Oilers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough-Riders. His accomplishments during his tenure at Syracuse propelled him to be inducted into the NCAA College Football Hall of Fame announced on May 1, 2008.

After retiring from football in 1994, McPherson joined the staff of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, before becoming the first executive director of the Sports Leadership Institute at Adelphi University. As a feminist and social activist, he has founded several outreach and mentoring programs, and regularly speaks at colelge campuses as a critic if gender roles, stating that the standard constructions of masculinity and femininity both limit men's emotions and overall well-being as well as contribute to "gendered violence" such as domestic violence, stalking and rape. In this capacity, he has testified before hearings of the United States House of Representatives.

Jessica Gendron Williams

Jessica Gendron Williams
Jessica Gendron Williams

Jessica Gendron Williams is  the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Phired Up Productions and continues to provide innovative, fun and results-producing education, research and coaching services to the higher education community. Jessica joined Phired Up in 2006 and has co-authored two books focused on attracting a high quantity of high quality members to student organizations, she created the Social Excellence message, she has taught tens of thousands of sorority women how to recruit through a values-based relationship-oriented approach, and she has proven herself as a major leader of the fraternal industry. Most recently, she has served Phired Up as the company's overall Vice President, where she has overseen the company's continued year-over-year growth since its inception.