February 23, 2022 – So often when leaders and executives talk about their career paths, they’ll talk about grasping opportunities, making connections and keeping a fierce eye on the end goal. But for some, it comes naturally as a result of following passions, learning about people and taking a genuine interest in improving the lives of others.
Current MPA student Rachell Hathaway is one of the latter. After building an incredible successful career from the ground up, she wasn’t ready to stop learning or stop challenging herself to learn and do more. As a result, she “happens to be,” (as she puts it) in several leadership positions, including a recent election to the Board of the San Antonio Housing Trust.
Hathaway built a successful career at Bank of America, working her way up to Vice President, Community Relations Manager before retiring. Now, Hathaway serves as a Program Manager for the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation.
The Foundation supports programs, projects and collaborative efforts to reach as many people as possible in Bexar, Bandera, Comal and Kendall counties. As someone who benefited from social service programs as a child, Hathaway is keen to ensure others can also benefit from them in the future.
One might think that philanthropy is in her blood; that her career path toward charitable giving was linear and intentional. While it appears that way, Hathaway is quick to point out that it was relationships and conversations that brought her to these places – not a master plan she had in mind.
In fact, it was an inspirational conversation with her daughter that led her to UTSA to pursue a Master of Public Administration.
“My daughter was about to graduate from college and thinking of her next steps, which made me think of mine,” Hathaway said. She looked at a few programs, but saw that the courses at UTSA spoke to the work she wanted to do.
“I’d already been doing this kind of work,” Hathaway said. “The MPA program seemed like it would help me do my job more effectively by having more knowledge around how all the pieces come together.”
The question, “how can I do better?” is one that Hathaway asks herself often. It is this mindset that has opened so many doors to her, professionally and personally, and makes her a leader in her community. It is what brought her to the MPA program, and what has continued to provide her with opportunities to serve her city.
Most recently, Hathaway was elected to the Board of the San Antonio Housing Trust. As one of six new members, she will join five city council members and one city staff advisory member to help provide opportunities to support affordable housing projects, program and initiatives.
It was another one of those moments for Hathaway that just “fell into place.” Hathaway’s passion for affordable housing developed several years ago, before knowing about a Housing Trust or any kind of governmental positions around it.
“I was a beneficiary of the Section 8 program some time ago, and it made a huge difference in my life,” Hathaway said. Because of that, Hathaway was able to go back to school, earn her degree, and work her way up in Bank of America. It was there she learned about the Community Reinvestment Act, how social inequity was built into the fabric of housing, and more – and once again, she asked herself: “How can I do better?”
“It’s really fueled my passion to say, ‘How can I learn about affordable housing in a way that I can be a force for my city?’” Hathaway said. And so, she began researching, finding connections, and learning about the things that moved her. Hathaway leapt at the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate in urban and regional planning to complement her MPA.
When she learned of the vacancies on the Housing Trust board, she knew it was her time. “It was quite organic; I was simply preparing myself for the opportunity years ago when I started the MPA program,” Hathaway said. “I’m really excited to be able to serve my city. I’m a little girl who grew up on the east side, went to public schools, it feels good to now have a correlation of some of the services that I’ve benefited from here in San Antonio. And to be a voice against anything that is not inclusive.”
As excited as she is to serve on the board of the Housing Trust, this is far from Hathaway’s first experience with meaningful volunteer work. She is also a board member for LISC San Antonio, a national nonprofit that provides financing and support for community development across the country, and has served as a member of the board of directors for the San Antonio African American Community Archive & Museum; a member of the summer internship committee for San Antonio Works; and a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio.
Hathaway maintains that her experiences came from inspirational conversation and following her interests. “Every great thing that we see has been developed from the ground up because of a conversation,” she said.
Once she earns her MPA, she plans to continue her philanthropy, fueled by a passion to give back to the city that has given so much to her.
“I want to be an advocate for a continuation of progress for everybody that is either experiencing generational poverty or mental health issues, lack of affordable housing, all of these things that we experience and go through, and get people to see that it’s really all of us,” Hathaway said. “One ship can really help lift the tide. I’m hoping to be a bridge builder for the space that I’m in as well as the spaces that I’ve been in.”