We welcome June's POWERhour! speaker, JoAnn Andera, Director of Special Events at the University of Texas at San Antonio's Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC).
Jo Ann is a hidden gem within the walls of ITC. Her father passed away when she was just a young child and she began working at an early high school age as a tour guide in 1970. Jo Ann's innate curiosity and unique multi-lingual talent actually propelled her into her early quest of understanding the culturally complexities of our community through HemisFair '68. Jo Ann learned to speak Arabic at home, Spanish in her old neighborhood, and then English when she went to school. In high school she studied French!
When the Texas Folklife Festival began in 1972, her volunteer role included performing with the Lebanese Folklife Dancers and cooking Lebanese dishes. She worked in many administrative capacities until her appointment in 1981 as Director of the Texas Folklife Festival. She has proven to be an excellent manager who's leadership is exemplified by her success in recruiting and coordinating 10,000 volunteers for the Asian and Folklife Festivals and drawing more than 70,000 visitors each year.
Jo Ann's strong commitment to folk culture and ethnic events has been widely recognized. She was instrumental in UTSA's affiliation process with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. During her nearly 40-year career at the helm of the festival, Andera has been recognized on a local, state, national and international level for her strong commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of America. A descendant of immigrants, she understands the challenges they face in integrating while retaining their traditions. The Express-News has quoted her as saying, "The purpose of the festival is to showcase all the cultures that now call San Antonio Home. But that's a shifting demographic as new waves of immigrants join and influence the greater community, redefining what it means to be a San Antonian, or Texan."
Jo Ann attended St. Mary's University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American History and, is a Certified Festival Executive from the International Festivals Association and Institutional Management Institute of Purdue University. She attends Texas A&M University - San Antonio in order to continue her education for Festivals and Events Management.
Register today to hear more of Jo Ann's story!