Connie Gonzalez

Connie G Feature photo

 

By Dawn Robinette, APR  |  Photography by David Teran

 

 

With a quick smile, Brooks’ Chief Strategy Officer Connie Gonzalez is centered, polished, and poised. Her storytelling pulls you in, making it easy to see why she was a successful television reporter. But ask her a question about Brooks, and she positively radiates with passion and enthusiasm.

 

“A big reason I got into the news business was being able to tell stories, especially for those that may not be able to speak up or tell it for themselves,” she explains. “I’m inspired by impact. The tie from news to what I do now is still people-focused. When I started at Brooks, we had focus groups, meetings with the businesses, with community members already here, and potential residents and businesses. We had organic conversations about Brooks, leading to our first marketing campaign. We hired models for that first campaign. Now we have real people representing living, learning, working, playing, staying, and soon praying here at Brooks.”

 

If you still think of the area as Brooks City Base or know it for its roots as Brooks Air Force Base, you may not recognize this bustling corner of San Antonio. Brooks is now a 1,300-acre mixed-use community on the south side of San Antonio managed by the Brooks Development Authority. Brooks – known by just that one name since 2017 – has surpassed $1.34 billion in development, with another $680 million underway.

 

“The ultimate goal for Brooks is to be associated with the word destination. Are we a model development? Are we going to be considered a model for redevelopment? If we look back when the Air Force base was originally put on the list to be closed, the natural reaction, especially from elected officials, was to do everything in their power to keep it. We’ve surpassed the number of jobs it had as an Air Force base.”

 

“We’re very intentional, we’re very strategic, and ultimately, we’re truly focused on the impact and the transformational change. It’s all about the greater region– and uplifting our surrounding community. Sometimes, we get prospects and ask them what their impact will be, whether it’s job count and salary or if they will partner with area nonprofits. If any of those answers are no, we kindly point them to other opportunities in other areas – whether other areas of San Antonio, other areas of Texas, or beyond – because we’re focused on regional prosperity.”

 

As Chief Strategy Officer, Gonzalez leads business development, public affairs, community engagement, and project management initiatives, establishing strategic direction to further Brooks’ growth. She is also the executive director of Brooks Gives Back, a nonprofit organization focused on impacting members of the communities surrounding Brooks.

 

Hearing her path to Brooks, it’s unsurprising that strategy is part of her job title. With a goal of being in communications, she attended Communication Arts High School on the Taft High School campus, anchoring the school’s television news her senior year before graduating from Texas State with a mass communications degree. She began her professional career as an intern with News 4 WOAI and worked in public affairs at Spurs Sports & Entertainment. “That was my first exposure to being the story versus reporting on the story.”

 

It’s also where she first worked for her current boss, Leo Gomez. “Everything that Leo was leading on behalf of the Spurs had nothing to do with ticket sales. It didn’t have to do with the actual championships. It had everything to do with how the Spurs brand impacts the community.”

 

She became a weekend anchor and reporter in San Angelo, then Fayetteville, Arkansas. “To be perfectly honest, I had a path and a plan. I thought I would stay in the news industry for quite some time, and that would be my full career, working my way up to a top 10 market like most in the TV industry try to.”

 

A phone call from her old boss changed everything. Would she apply to be Brooks’ public relations manager? After a rigorous interview process, she was offered the position.

 

“I made what I would say was a cheesy pros and cons list – the pros and cons of taking a chance on Brooks and the pros and cons of remaining in the TV news industry. Because I took a photo of it, it circulates in my photo memories every year. It’s one of the greatest minutes of reflection on an annual basis.”

 

Connie Gonzalez family

 

 

Along with the pros and cons list, she relied on guidance from her sister and mother. “My mother couldn’t wait for me to return to San Antonio, so she was biased. My sister was making sure I was not making a decision lightly.”

 

“Our group chat is titled The Three Musketeers. They truly are my ribs, my biggest cheerleaders. Of course, as any family should, they must be able to tell you the good, bad, and ugly. You trust and know it’s coming from love, so you can’t be upset about it.”

 

“Relationship building is something that we value in our family. My mom, sister, stepdad, and brother-in-law are now looking forward to Friday dinner and different outings. My friends sometimes joke, but it is exciting when they’re complimenting how close I am with my mom, my sister, and my family.”

 

Her focus on relationships goes far beyond her family. “Relationships are ultimately what initiates and creates progress. Relationships are what make the world go round. And yes, relationships equal progress. Surround yourself with people that complement you, not duplicate you. Because I like to say I do not aspire to be a Swiss Army knife. You may always wear a number of hats, but it is not a goal of mine to be that silo or to be the Swiss Army knife and do everything single-handedly. The perspective of surrounding yourself with so many different folks who may not be experts in what you do and vice versa has also provided great perspective for me throughout my leadership journey.”

 

It’s the same way she tackles challenges. “I pride myself on being solution-oriented versus dwelling on the problem. But usually, one of the very first solutions is, who do I need around the table? When we’re all around the table, we’re creative now; we’re enabled to be creative and innovative. One of our core values here at Brooks is to think big and fantastic. When faced with a challenge, how can we think big and fantastic, again, with the right people around the table, and figure out a new way or a better way to go about whatever challenge or issue we’re facing?”

 

With all that’s on her plate, she relies on exercise to keep herself grounded. From a walking pad she installed at her standing desk to spin class, yoga, and cardio, she keeps moving. “My balance is travel and getting away and just being able to refresh and see different towns, cities, countries. That still sounds like work, but getting additional perspective and ideas is a part of fueling my tank, personally and professionally.

 

“Always learning, growing, and sharpening your knife with another knife is important. And if I am not learning, I feel like I’m not growing or improving. And when I’m not, that means I have a gap or a void that needs to be filled.” With that in mind, she’s pursuing an executive MBA at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

 

She shares a quote on one of her social media profiles. “Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch”. You can teach technical skills. You can teach someone to write and speak and be great at Excel or other things. You can’t teach a person to be passionate. If you’re genuinely passionate about something, you’ll find those solutions and get whatever task, project, or initiative – economic development like we’re doing – across the finish line. Your pride and your brand are behind that. But ultimately, it’s passion, and it’s enthusiasm.

 

“I had a plan, a path, and then change happened. But to embrace and trust whatever your unique path may be and recognize that in every single landing spot, there lies an experience that will ultimately shape your future.”

 

 

Connie Gonzalez

 

 

 

Robinette Headshot 1
Dawn Robinette
Contributing Writer
Dawn Robinette is an award-winning writer and communications expert based in San Antonio who enjoys finding new discoveries, revisiting old favorites and telling stories. Selected as a local expert by the San Antonio River Walk Association, she regularly writes for San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine. You can also read more of her work at Alamo City Moms Blog.
Robinette Headshot 1
Dawn Robinette
Contributing Writer
Dawn Robinette is an award-winning writer and communications expert based in San Antonio who enjoys finding new discoveries, revisiting old favorites and telling stories. Selected as a local expert by the San Antonio River Walk Association, she regularly writes for San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine. You can also read more of her work at Alamo City Moms Blog.

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