Meet Kelley Phillips is the director of programs and outreach for the San Antonio River Foundation (SARF). She ensures that others can feel the sense of wonder and joy through the Foundation’s mission of beautification, education, and preservation.
Kelley graduated with Bachelors of Art in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a M.S. Park and Resource Management through Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Originally from Omaha, NE, Kelley spent several years on Oahu, Hawaii as an outdoor recreation instructor before moving to San Antonio in 2013.
“I must admit,” says Kelley, “I didn’t think I was going to like Texas. All I had ever heard was that it was hot, dry and a little self-important.” It did not take long before she had an entirely new perspective, the Riverwalk being a prime factor in the shift. First, Kelley explored the Museum Reach and felt awe at the large public art installations, “when you are able to go under, over, around and through these pieces you become part of the art, and that is just mind-blowing.” It was not until joining the San Antonio River Foundation that she had the impetus to venture into the Mission Reach—and was not disappointed. “It is like you stepped out your front door and are suddenly in the wilderness,” she attested referring to the close proximity of the native landscape to the city limits. The glistening water of the river, billowing native grasses shushing each other, riparian water birds perched on slick rocks and earthy aroma of soil are all sensory experiences which “resonate in my bones and make me feel like a native of the River,” Kelley says dreamily.
By working for the San Antonio River Foundation, Kelley has opportunities every day to ensure that others can feel the same sense of wonder and joy through the Foundation’s mission of Beautification, Education, Preservation. “To say I enjoy my job is an outstanding understatement!” she laughs, “I’m part of a fantastic team here [SARF].” Now, when people ask why she left Hawaii for San Antonio, as they are wont to do, she replies definitively, “Because it is where I want to be.”