Matt Mathias- From the desert of Canyon to the river of San Antonio
Meet Matt Mathias, Member of the San Antonio River Foundation’s (SARF) Board of Directors. From a small city in the panhandle of Texas, Matt is well versed on how a close knit community behaves. And though statistically San Antonio could hardly be described as modestly populated, the pervasive sense of community and universal desire to make our city better is exactly the “small town” feeling that Matt loves about San Antonio. Matt’s financial acumen, based on academic and professional experience, allows him to truly appreciate the staggering economic benefits the River brings to San Antonio — from its legendary origin to present day. It’s in service to that idea of preservation that Matt commits his time, skills and passion to the creation of meaningful enhancements along the River. Through his perpetual dedication to the Foundation, he furthers our mission to enhance the San Antonio River Basin as a vibrant cultural, educational, ecological, and recreational experience. The following interview was done when he was selected as the Featured Board Member for June 2017.
Q: How long have you been with the Foundation?
A: I’m currently finishing my third year with the Foundation.
Q: If any, what position do you currently hold?
A: I’m serving on the Finance and Executive Committees.
Q: Have you had roles in other non-profit organizations?
A: I’ve worked with several non-profits throughout San Antonio including: Habitat for Humanity, Food Bank, and Snack Pack for Kids. It’s overwhelming the number of worthy causes you can serve in San Antonio.
Q: What is your educational and professional background?
A: I received my bachelor’s degree from West Texas A&M University in 2000. Right away I went to work for Morgan Stanley as a stockbroker. This, I decided, was no life for me and eventually found myself in banking. I have been in this industry since 2003 in various roles. I’m currently working in the commercial side of banking, which I enjoy very much.
Q: What do you believe is SARF’s greatest accomplishment?
A: That’s hard to say. The economic impact that the Foundation’s partnership with SARA [San Antonio River Authority] has had alone, is enormous. A 2014 a report stated 9.3 million non-resident visitors to the Riverwalk, whose primary purpose was to visit the Riverwalk, spent $2.4 billion which supported 31,000 San Antonio jobs. That’s unbelievable! The River was the impetus for our city, and it continues to support our prosperity some 300 years later. The greatest thing the Foundation can do, is continue to preserve our history, educate the public about the River, and make meaningful enhancements. I believe the embodiment of this is happening now with Confluence Park.
Q: What are some of your hobbies or how do you spend your free time?
A: I love the game of golf. I try to play every chance I get. I also play guitar and enjoy reading. I commute in to San Antonio every day, so most of the books I enjoy now are audiobooks. Otherwise, I spend my time with my family and friends.
Q: Where are you from? What are some of your favorite things about SA? Or the River?
A: I’m from the Texas Panhandle just south of Amarillo, a little town named Canyon. I say this all the time, but San Antonio, for being the 7th largest city in the nation, feels like a small town. Being from a small town, I absolutely love that about this city. I really appreciate the sense of community people have in this town. Everyone seems to be truly wanting to make the city better.
Q: Why are you passionate about the SARF mission/What drew you to SARF?
A: My passion for the River goes back to the economic impact it has for all of us. Working as a business banker, all of my clients own businesses in and around South Texas. Whether they’re in the tourism industry or not, they rely on the people and dollars that the River brings to San Antonio each year. Because of this, I have a job. I feel like I owe it to the Foundation to give something back.
Q: What do you hope to see in the future of SARF and/or San Antonio?
A: I believe our future is bright and our options are limitless. I hope to see the Foundation continue its mission, to enhance the San Antonio River Basin as a vibrant cultural, educational, ecological, and recreational experience. To do this, we will need to continue to share our mission with passionate people who want to make San Antonio a place people want to visit and live.