North SA Chamber of Commerce CIO Breakfast Discusses UTSA Experience with Hurricane Harvey

February 26, 2018

speaker table with three panelists in large ballroom filled with people

(Ben Garcia (far left) moderates the January North SA Chamber CIO Breakfast and Vanessa Hammler Kenon, Ed.D., (Panelist table center), serves on the panel.)


Written by: Rosalind Ong, Project Coordinator

Several OIT leaders participated in the North SA Chamber CIO Breakfast 2018 January meeting. The meeting was held January 25, 2018 at the Petroleum Club of San Antonio. The CIO Breakfast Series is a monthly meeting series hosted by the North Chamber of Commerce specifically for senior IT staff and executives. At the meetings, speakers discuss current technology issues and share ideas with their peers.


 Bryan Wilson speaking to a room of guests through a microphone in a large ballroom.

(Bryan Wilson addressing attendees at the January North SA Chamber CIO Breakfast.)

To commence the January meeting, Interim Vice Provost and CIO Bryan Wilson was named the North SA Chamber 2018 CIO Breakfast Committee Chair. As the chair, Wilson will facilitate all 2018 CIO Breakfast Planning Committee meetings, which provide an opportunity for technology leaders throughout the city of San Antonio to share and strategize best practices. To start off the January session, Wilson welcomed attendees, promoted future CIO Breakfast topics and sessions planned throughout the series, and introduced the moderator for the panel session.

Director of Customer Service and Operations Support Ben Garcia served as the moderator for a panel that focused on business continuity and disaster recovery emergency management. Garcia introduced panelists for the “Hurricane Harvey – Lessons Learned” session, which included:

  • IT Manager at eESI Russell James
  • Senior Vice President and CIO at Vantage Bank Shawn Main
  • Assistant Vice Provost for IT at UTSA Vanessa Hammler Kenon, Ed.D.

Each panelist represented a different business model – a consumer serving corporation, a professional employer organization, and a public higher education institution. The information they shared provided the session attendees a valuable blueprint of “Dos & Don’ts” for their business continuity and disaster recovery planning efforts.

The panel provided a unique perspective on the lessons learned in response to Hurricane Harvey’s damage and the business impact to their organization – such as:

  • Having a business continuity and disaster recovery organization plan
  • How effective their plans were
  • What key take-aways were identified for further improvement of their plans
  • What surprises were experienced as they executed their action plans

Close up of panel sitting behind a table speaking to a large ballroom full of guests

(From Left to Right: Shawn Main, Vanessa Hammler Kenon, Ed.D., and Russell James.)

Dr. Kenon shared UTSA’s experience responding to Hurricane Harvey. This included campus collaborations for preparations and decisions as the storm approached, the community responses to communication and the important role of social media to provide continuous engagement with the students, their families, and the community.

Overall, the panel highlighted the importance of not only preparation but also adaptability, collaboration, and the need to act quickly in making decisions.

“As moderator of this panel session, I was grateful to lead the discussion as this topic is very important to me as I have implemented business continuity and disaster recovery plans in the past,” Garcia shared. “The key is to have a dynamic business continuity / disaster recovery plan of action and ensure all team members know the plan through training. Moreover, expect there will be situations that do not go according to the plan (lack of resources, etc.) and continue to sustain and improve the plan by consistently testing it.”