‘Improving lives’ becomes focal point of career
For more than five years, Loretta Kerner was engrained in Silver & Black Give Back (now Spurs Give), helping the Spurs Sports & Entertainment nonprofit raise more than $10 million to fund service learning and youth sports initiatives across South Texas. But even before and after her impressive work with that organization, she took on roles where she could make a difference and ‘improving lives’ has become a common theme in her career.
After graduating from college, Loretta worked for both State Representative Joe Farias and U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, helping constituents with various issues and connecting them with food, utility and other assistance programs. She then served as Development Coordinator for the Autism Treatment Center San Antonio, before scoring the job with Silver & Black Give Back.
In 2018, she joined CPS Energy in the Executive Brand & Outreach area. There, she helped boost community engagement and connect the company’s senior leaders with the community through speaking engagements and event participation, nonprofit volunteerism and service, board service, and more – mirroring how she would arrange for Spurs players and staff to participate and meet with people at community events.
In 2020, Loretta became Director & Chief of Staff to the President & CEO, currently supporting CPS Energy Interim President & CEO Rudy Garza.
Aside from her work at the energy company, she serves on the Women United Advisory Board for United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, on the Board for Blue Star Contemporary Art, and as an Advisory Committee member for Youth Code Jam. Also, Loretta was selected to participate in the 46th class of Leadership San Antonio, a leadership program sponsored by the San Antonio and San Antonio Hispanic chambers of commerce. She graduated from Trinity University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, triple majoring in International Studies, Spanish and Political Science.
This month, we’ve been celebrating Women’s History Month and honoring the nearly 710 women at CPS Energy who all play a key role – whether it be on the front lines or behind the scene – in powering the Greater San Antonio community. Today, the spotlight shines on Loretta as we wrap up our series of blogs. Keep reading to learn more about her.
Q: Out of college, you had the opportunity to work directly with Congressman Cuellar and Representative Farias. What was that experience like?
Loretta: My main responsibility was to connect our constituents with the assistance they needed, ranging from VA (Veterans Affairs) and Social Security benefits to food and utility assistance. I also planned and participated in community outreach events and speaking engagements. I’m probably most proud of the work I did related to policy and legislative issues relevant to the House Committees on Public Education and Defense and Veterans Affairs, and on the creation of Texas A&M – San Antonio. At the time, I was working for Representative Farias, who happens to be a CPS Energy retiree. We had a lot of meetings about Texas A&M – San Antonio and where it would be located (for geographic diversity and to help economic development on the southside). Now, it’s a fast-growing campus serving families and improving lives on the southside, which makes me really proud.
Q: After your work with the governmental leaders, you began working for the Silver & Black Give Back organization. What was the most rewarding part of that experience?
Loretta: The most rewarding part was connecting athletes with children in our community and providing an avenue for them to have difficult and rewarding conversations, ultimately creating fans for life. Towards the end of my time there, Coach Gregg Popovich began vocalizing his stand on social injustice issues and we had conversations with young black kids about exploring their feelings and making sure they knew they had value. With our deep roster of international players, we also talked about their adjustments to living here in the States and away from their cultural roots.
Q: Moving on to your current role, what are some of your primary duties as Director & Chief of Staff to the President & CEO, or Interim CEO, at CPS Energy?
Loretta: I coordinate all internal activities for the President & CEO, or Interim CEO, and spearhead various special projects. You could say that I’m an air traffic controller for Rudy and his direct reports, connecting workstreams that would otherwise remain siloed, a skilled communicator who links the leadership team with the nearly 3,000-strong organization, and a trusted advisor on complex and confidential issues.
Q: What are some key things you’ve learned from the leaders you directly served with that you’re able to apply in your own leadership role?
Loretta: To be self-aware and prioritize your personal development – always be learning. A good leader also develops those around them and encourages strategic thinking, innovation and action – always be teaching. They should want what’s best for our community and be a good communicator – always be inspiring. It’s also important to have a sense of humor – always find a reason to laugh.
Q: What piece of advice do you have for others to help them be more successful in their careers or personal life?
Loretta: Be confident and trust in yourself. When you have a question or something to add, feel empowered to raise your hand and speak up.
Q: You recently were honored by the San Antonio Business Journal by being named to their 40 Under 40 List. How did it feel to be named to this list?
Loretta: I’m grateful to be named as one of this year’s honorees. The last two years in this role have seen a lot of tough times – a global pandemic, a historic winter storm, changes in leadership, a rate case – so to be recognized for all the hard work and long hours was a very humbling experience. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that CPS Energy has given me in this role and for the grit and resilience that I found in myself during this time.
Q: In 3 words or less, how would you describe yourself?
Loretta: Outgoing, witty, hard-working
Thank you, Loretta, for all the valuable work you do for our company, customers and community and for always working to make a difference and improve the lives of so many.