This move marks the first change in leadership since the festival's beginnings in 2013.
Photo Credit: 
San Antonio Book Festival

“Books can transform someone at any age," Gonzalez said. "You are never alone if you have a book. You can find yourself, lose yourself, and learn something about yourself in a book. I am the product of books. They can save lives.”

San Antonio—The San Antonio Book Festival announced Monday, January 21, that Lilly Gonzalez will serve as the organization’s new executive director. Gonzalez joined the festival as communications director in 2015 and previously served as deputy executive director.

 

Gonzalez takes over from founding executive director Katy Flato, who will assume the role of chairman of the festival’s nine-member board. This move marks the first change in leadership since the festival's beginnings in 2013.

 

“From the moment I met Lilly, I knew she would be the one to take over the running of the festival,” said Flato. “Lilly knows how books and libraries can change lives because they changed hers. She continues to be a passionate and knowledgeable reader with keen discernment. Her years of experience working in Chicago at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; volunteering at the Chicago Humanities Festival and literary journals; her journalism and creative writing background; and her life-long passion for reading all add up to the perfect champion of San Antonio’s most successful and important annual literary event, serving all of Bexar County. It is safe to say that SABF is in excellent hands and Lilly will adroitly take the festival to the next level. We are all lucky that Chicago’s miserable winters drove Lilly and her partner Ray back to Texas.”

 

“Lilly’s educational and professional experiences make her the ideal executive director who will preserve the quality and broaden the impact of the San Antonio Book Festival,” said Cathy Obriotti Green, outgoing chairman of SABF’s board of managers.

 

SABF was founded as the signature program of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation in 2012 with the Texas Book Festival, the Central Library and the Southwest School of Art as founding partners. Since its inaugural festival in April 2013, SABF has undergone tremendous growth: 64 authors and 4,000 festival goers in 2013 to 96 authors and 22,000 festival goers in 2018. Over the course of the past six years, SABF staff has expanded festival programming to include the Get Lit Author Series, which brings renowned authors such as Alfredo Corchado, Mark Bittman, Mimi Swartz, and Julian Castro to San Antonio outside of the one day of the festival; The Moth Mainstage, an internationally acclaimed storytelling program that features five storytellers telling true stories on stage without notes; Book It! luncheons, which feature four opportunities for festival attendees to dine with a festival author over an intimate lunch with eight guests on the day of the festival; and the singular festival fundraising event, the Book Appétit Literary Feast, the kickoff luncheon on the Friday before the festival that has showcased Ann Patchett, Paula Poundstone, and for 2019, Ron Chernow.

 

Gonzalez told San Antonio’s Rivard Report that her charge will be to “address the Festival’s growing pains with solutions that are true to the vision.”

 

“We like that the San Antonio Book Festival has a smaller feel," she added. "You can easily get from one session to another, and it feels compact and sort of has this neighborhood charm. We are proud that [the festival] is growing tremendously, and we want to keep it very San Antonio – very intimate.”

 

Flato said Gonzalez will also be responsible for growing support in the community and increasing outreach at local schools.

 

“We need to make sure that we have the impact we want on our community by building relationships with young readers, in addition to making sure that San Antonio is seen as a literary destination” by recruiting the right authors as well as patron and donor support, Flato said.

 

The seventh annual San Antonio Book Festival will take place April 6 at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art.

 

“Books can transform someone at any age," Gonzalez said. "You are never alone if you have a book. You can find yourself, lose yourself, and learn something about yourself in a book. I am the product of books. They can save lives.”

The seventh annual San Antonio Book Festival will take place April 6 at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art.