The San Antonio Heron is a nonprofit nonpartisan newsroom reporting on downtown growth and the ripple effect it has on inner city neighborhoods, while mentoring San Antonio students interested in serving their community through storytelling.
Through our content and events, and on social media, we have moderated the ongoing progress vs. preservation discussion in San Antonio.
The Heron is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization (EIN 83-1163274).
Who we are
The Heron launched in June 2018 with the purpose of chronicling downtown San Antonio development and its impact on abutting neighborhoods
We are dedicated to producing thoroughly-reported and clearly-written stories. Our goal for every story is to gather all the facts and opinions and present them in an objective way so the reader decides on their own how they feel about the issue.
Through meaty analysis and deep dives, we strive to answer the following questions: How and why is downtown San Antonio changing? What’s the impact on nearby communities, especially ones vulnerable? Who’s benefitting and who’s not from the growth? How does San Antonio grow as a city while maintaining its unique culture?
Our second objective is the “how?” We aim to raise the standard for journalism in San Antonio by embracing a reader-first philosophy, while obsessing over objectivity and fairness. Our third goal is to create an internship program for San Antonio students who may want to pursue writing and photography. We’d like to create a pipeline of local talent so local kids can serve their communities through storytelling.
Simply put, we exist to inform our readers. That is our only obligation. We do not produce our journalism for personal gain, for awards, nor for vanity.
Ben Olivo is editor and co-founder of the San Antonio Heron. In 1996, he began working in the San Antonio Express-News’ sports department, compiling high school football scores on Friday nights. Over the next 19 years, he moved about the newsroom — from business news to metro, from features to mySA.com. From 2008 to 2015, he wrote The Downtown Blog, an online page from which the Heron is largely based. He left the Express-News in 2016 to give politics a try, but politics chewed him up and spit him out after six months. At the beginning of 2017, he joined Folo Media, a journalism nonprofit backed by the H.E. Butt Foundation that chronicled San Antonio’s inequality. Soon after joining Folo Media, he was promoted to managing editor, overseeing a small newsroom of reporters. He left Folo Media in February 2018.
Olivo also serves as president of the board of directors.
Board of directors
Irene Abrego is a journalism instructor, and advisor of the student newspaper The Ranger, at San Antonio College. Abrego worked at the San Antonio Light and The New York Times from the late 1980s to 1995. Since then, she has taught at San Antonio where she has shaped the early careers of hundreds of regional and national journalists.
Crystal Darby is a business advisor at the UTSA Small Business Development Center. She joined the SBDC in 2011 and helps small businesses start, grow, and develop effectively. Her specialties are interpersonal communication, business writing, team building, managing change, presentation skills, marketing, business plans, and small business development. Prior to that she owned Crystal Communications for 12 years and was development director for the Healy-Murphy Center from 1997 to 1999. She grew up in San Antonio and holds a bachelor’s degree in radio-television-film from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of New Orleans.
Santiago Garcia is a policy research analyst at Methodist Healthcare Ministries. He oversees advocacy contracts in support of healthcare coalitions within 74 counties in Central and South Texas. He applies a system-thinking approach having worked in economic and community development, affordable housing, communications, policy, small business development, and the arts. Santiago believes that individuals and local communities should tell their own stories as experts of their own lives. He believes in the San Antonio Heron’s integrity toward striving to tell stories about downtown San Antonio’s preservation, in tension with change, deeply and comprehensively. A San Antonio native, he has heartfelt memories about being downtown from childhood on, sometimes dreaming about places like Main Plaza. Santiago loves spending time with his wife Heather Eichling and his sons Luca and Joaquín, hiking, going to libraries, vacationing in New Mexico and Colorado, and talking about the Spurs.
Taylor Watson is a jill-of-all-trades who brings experience in operations, project management, and stakeholder engagement to all her volunteer efforts. Educated at the University of Rochester, she has worked in the non-profit sector, legal, and service industries in management roles, specializing in using out-of-the-box approaches to analysis to bring order to disordered environments. She currently works as the business relationship manager for Kamin Associates, a locally-grown cybersecurity firm where she serves as the primary contract administrator, using her skills to build relationships with clients and customize solutions that protect their interests. Outside of work, she is an active leader in multiple community organizations engaged with the impact of development on neighborhoods. From a military family, Taylor grew up in San Antonio and, since returning as an adult, has been especially interested in why young people stay here. She lives in Mahncke Park where she can often be found walking her dog, cycling on the Museum Reach, or working on her garden.