What’s in your bag?  

By Lainey Berkus | Photography by David Teran

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Meet Doren Fein, the new dynamic Executive Director of the Las Casas Foundation, a nonprofit that invests in the past, present and future of the performing arts by preserving historic theatres, cultivating young theatre artists and supporting theatre programs within the community. 

Some of you may know the organization through its restoration of the Majestic and the Charline McCombs Empire Theatres or the Joci Awards (named after the late Joci Straus, the Founder of the 35-year-old Foundation). The Joci Awards are part of a performing arts scholarship program that celebrates talented high school dancers, singers and actors from San Antonio and South Texas. $100,000 is awarded in scholarships to students each year. $1.3 million has helped over 500+ rising stars since 2009.  This is the largest fund source of its kind in the country for performing arts high school students. 

Experience Counts. 

Although this is a new position for Doren, she has been with the organization for ten years. Previously she was the Director of Operations and before that the Director of Programs and Development. Doren also has theatre in her DNA.  This born and raised San Antonian was a childhood actor from ages 6 to 16.  Any “Days of Our Lives” fans out there?  Doren played three different roles on that soap opera. She was also a part of the cast on “Hearts Afire”, a situation comedy with John Ritter, Markie Post and Billy Bob Thornton.  She co-starred in the movie “Ed” with Matt LeBlanc too.  Although she left acting for the business side of show biz, she still holds her SAG-AFTRA card, since 1991. 

Doren is ready to start the New Year with a busy agenda. Her goals for the upcoming year are to increase the number of scholarship applicants and promote the incredible local talent to a packed Empire Theatre house at the 15th Joci Awards on May 21, grow awareness and financial support through exciting engagement initiatives in preparation for the Majestic’s 100th birthday in 2029 and advocate for the performing arts as an economic driver on a city, county, state, and national level. Doren knows that she needs to be super organized in her new leadership role. That’s why she has a triple handbag system, meaning she carries two large totes and one fashionable handbag, to help her move forward throughout her busy days. Let’s dig deep into her three bags that help this leading lad balance her professional and personal responsibilities. 

Q You say your handbags never let you down.  How do your tote bags help you stay organized? 

A My bags help me prepare for what the day might have in store, be ready to problem solve and troubleshoot whether it’s for work or my family.  My two tote bags are functional and carry everything that I need from early morning to late at night.  They are an extension of who I am and what I represent. The Joci Awards white canvas tote, 13” by 15”, is an eye-catcher too.  The tote represents me as a proud professional in the world of theatre. People always ask me about the logo and want to hear more about the scholarship competition which is great exposure for the organization. It sparks conversation and I happily utilize all opportunities to emphasize how the arts are essential to humanity. This canvas tote also serves as a sustainable grocery bag if I need to make a stop on the way home at the end of the day. I keep a 22-year-old and very loved Louis Vuitton cross body pouchette inside the Joci tote. I wear this bag when I am heading to a business lunch or after work event.  I enjoy the hands-free style and adjustable straps.  It’s comfortable to wear. It was a Sweet Sixteen present from my parents and is a sentimental keepsake. 

The second bag is my sturdy J Crew navy blue tote, 12” by 16”.  It’s ideal for a working woman.a It’s super roomy and carries much more than a purse could hold. I love the color because it is versatile and coordinates well with my wardrobe. Both totes are light weight and neither have zippers which gives me easy and fast access to the things I need. The items in the totes are organized in smaller pouches so I know exactly what I am searching for which is great because I have a lot to accomplish every day on a tight schedule.  The totes are essentially a mobile office for days that are scheduled with back-to-back meetings. 

Q What’s inside your three bags? 

A The Joci tote holds wet ones, Purell wipes, hand sanitizer, Advil, sunscreen for my son and one for me too.  Chapstick, a makeup bag, Kleenex, first aid kit, spare masks, a botanical boost spray for my curly hair and sunglasses. I also keep a few items in this tote for my son, like a Brio toy train, finger puppets and a healthy snack for my growing three-year-old.  I keep a small bag of pumpkin seeds or nuts in case I miss a meal on the go as well as a small chocolate treat for an energy boost. The J Crew bag holds my color-coded work files, laptop, earphones, computer, phone charger, one or two Playbills or ticket stubs from the Majestic and one-sheeters for arts organizations where I serve as a Board member. I also keep a pocket version of Robert’s Rules of Order which is a reference for parliamentary procedure that governs most organizations with a Board of Directors, like the Las Casas Foundation. My business card holder, notepad, Yeti water container, five or six pens and pencils and a handful of colorful highlighters are in the tote too.  

Q What are your must haves? 

My Louis Vuitton holds my must haves which includes hand sanitizer, iPhone, driver’s license, business cards, debit holder, lip gloss, blush with a mirror, notepad and one wooden pen, hand made with love, by my husband, Ben. 

Q Any bag tips? 

A Do not put your bag on the floor.   

Keep your bags and totes upright to avoid odds and ends from falling out.   

Always buy light weight bags and keep your must haves in a smaller purse or bag inside your tote so that you can easily grab and go when you are in a hurry. 

Designer and Builder: Lori Urbano of Urbano. 

Design and Build Although builder Lori Urbano does commercial projects — the Southtown firehouse restaurant renovation Battalion comes to mind — most of her work with Urbano Design and Build is high-end residential. One of her latest home builds, completed in just eight months during the pandemic, nearly seven years after she purchased a piece of property in the gated Inverness community, is her own home. 

Among the personal touches in the 5-bedroom, 4.5 bath, 3800-square-foot contemporary design are a custom glass and steel front door, ceilings ranging from 10 to 20 feet, a blackout bedroom with motorized shades, lime plaster walls, a dog-washing station, heated bathroom floors, a showpiece staircase, a movie room for the self-professed film nut and an overall open concept that allows views of the backyard pool from virtually every room in the house. 

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