Strong work ethic has made Erika Prosper
More than a play on words, her name tells how far she has come in her amazing life
By GLENDA WOLIN
To see Erika Prosper Nirenberg today, poised, comfortable leading a meeting, speaking to a crowd or mingling with civic leaders, you would never guess she was raised in poverty, living with her grandmother in the Rio Grande Valley while her parents traveled around finding work in dusty Texas fields. Little Erika spent summers working side-by-side with them.
But she loved school and was good at it, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas with two bachelor’s degrees and from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication with a master’s degree – and a husband named Ron.
So now, in addition to her impressive resume that includes being director of consumer insights at H-E-B and 2018 chairwoman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, she is also the first lady of San Antonio.
A strong believer in civic engagement, Prosper focuses on literacy in her own volunteer efforts, as well as getting more women, especially Hispanic women, more engaged in both government and the workplace.
“When women speak out about the fact that we don’t have enough women involved, it’s not at the expense of men,” she said. “It’s not men versus women.”
She related it to San Antonio’s equity budget, which places resources in areas where they have been neglected but
SA League's Annual Meeting and Luncheon
When: Saturday, May 19
Business meeting: 10:30-11:15 a.m., free
Luncheon: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., $50
Keynote speaker: Erika Prosper Nirenberg
*Guest speaker: District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldaña
Where: Eilan Hotel, Palio Hall (Third Floor)
18603 La Cantera Terrace, San Antonio, TX 78256
Tickets: https://lwvsa2018.brownpapertickets.com/, or send check made out to LWV of the San Antonio Area to 106 Auditorium Circle, #120, San Antonio, TX 78205. Deadline is May 12.
Directions and parking here
Erika Prosper was on the cover of San Antonio Woman's Jan./Feb. issue.
doesn’t ignore the other areas.
“It’s the same with women,” she explained.
The kind of leadership women bring, she said, is known as “centered leadership,” which is more focused on things women tend to have more of than men do – connection, positive emotions, compassion and such.
Prosper’s literacy work these days centers on H-E-B’s Read 3 program, which encourages parents to read to their children three times a week, organizes book drives and otherwise encourages literacy.
She also altered the city council’s reading program, which used to select one book for the whole city, but which she changed to have each council member pick a book.
“I focus my volunteer work around things that helped me get out of poverty – literacy, empowerment of young Hispanic children… I make it a point to talk to at least one group of migrant parents and children every year,” she said.
One big project in the works, which should be ready to roll out in June, is a curriculum for parents to teach their kindergarteners through fifth graders basic entrepreneurial skills such as problem solving, learning through failure, stepping out of their comfort zone, curiosity and empathy.
Developed with VentureLabs founder Cristal Glangchai, the program will allow nonprofits such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, Martinez Street Women’s Center, and other organizations with parent programs to help people rise out of poverty.
With both parents focused on lofty goals, Does Jonah, 9, know what he wants to be when he grows up? Of course he does.
“He says he wants to be like his father and change the world!”