SHAHRZAD 'SHERRY' DOWLATSHAHI
Chief Diplomacy and Protocol Officer
Shahrzad 'Sherry' Dowlatshahi, Chief Diplomacy and Protocol Officer
Ms. Dowlatshahi is Chief Diplomacy & Protocol Officer heading the City of San Antonio’s International Relations Office, a division of the Economic Development Department. She advises, assists and supports San Antonio elected officials and executives on matters of international affairs, public diplomacy and diplomatic procedure and protocol; is responsible for coordinating official foreign travel of Mayor and Council as well as planning the program of visits for high-level foreign dignitaries, consular & diplomatic corps members working closely with Mayor and City Council. Another important part of her work is public engagement with local community business, cultural, civic and higher education, diaspora and ethnic groups. She works citywide with other City of San Antonio departments on to provide support on relevant initiatives or projects. She manages the San Antonio Sister Cities Program and works closely with Sister Cities International as well as community stakeholders on fostering and maintaining San Antonio’s official relationships.
Ms Dowlatshahi currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, as Vice President of the San Antonio Mexico Friendship Council, and as a board member of the San Antonio Council for International Visitors. Additionally, she serves on the advisory boards of Musical Bridges Around the World and the local chapter of the Mexican Entrepreneurs Association, AEM San Antonio.
She completed her undergraduate and graduate education in the UK at the University of Westminster in London and the University of Cambridge. She also studied at the Alexandria University, Egypt and the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.
With over twenty five years of experience in the area of international education and cultural relations, as well as information and educational technology she has held diverse roles at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City and in San Antonio as well as at Greengates School, a renowned IB international British school in Mexico City.
She is enthusiastic about raising San Antonio’s global profile and cultural fluency of its residents bringing awareness to opportunities for mutual enrichment. A strong believer in the power of communication, she advocates clear and transparent dialogue amongst all parties as well as proactive hands on engagement to ensure successful outcomes.
International Relations Manager
Martha Henry, International Relations Manager
A native of San Antonio, Martha Henry spent many years studying and working abroad, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, before settling in her current position at the City of San Antonio's International Relations Office. As an International Relations Manager, Ms. Henry focuses on coordinating official visits to San Antonio, facilitating relationships with local international organizations, and conducting research pertaining to the city’s international interests.
Ms. Henry has been involved extensively in cultural and educational exchange, and has worked with high school and college students and adult learners. She holds a Master’s degree in International Education and Exchange Management from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont and received a Fulbright fellowship to study higher education in the European Union.
Ms. Henry is also active in the local community and very engaged in the restoration of the San Antonio River, one of the largest urban ecosystem restoration projects in the nation. She is particularly intrigued by the international attention generated by this and other innovative San Antonio projects and by the exchange of best practices with visiting foreign delegations.
Economic Development Manager
Amy Contreras, Economic Development Manager
Amy Contreras is an Economic Development Manager for the City of San Antonio specializing in the development of international business in the city. Her focus areas include expanding international relationships, building collaboration in the broader realm of economic development, and improving prospects for foreign direct investment and exports in the city.
In her current role with the City, Ms. Contreras works on projects of varying sizes to attract, retain, and expand jobs in San Antonio. She engages both domestic and international companies who are looking to create or expand their presence in the city, helping to bridge the divide between private investment and public-sector incentives.
In addition to her professional interests, Amy is involved as a member of the San Antonio community. She previously served on the Board of Champions for City Year for seven years, helping guide students who are off-track towards a more prosperous and beneficial future for both themselves and their communities. Prior to joining the City of San Antonio, Ms. Contreras was an executive director at Ernst and Young focusing on international tax law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin, a Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University, and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University.
Senior International Relations Specialist
Ian Cruz, Senior International Relations Specialist
Ian Cruz joined the City of San Antonio’s International Relations Office in 2016. A former military dependent, his family relocated to a variety of locations – both domestically and abroad. After graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a B.A. in Communication, Mr. Cruz was accepted to the prestigious JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program where he spent three years teaching English in Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan.
Upon his return to the U.S., Mr. Cruz became an active member of the Japan-America Society of San Antonio (JASSA) and worked to promote awareness of Japanese culture in San Antonio.
Mr. Cruz is passionate about learning about other cultures - particularly through interacting firsthand with those who share different backgrounds than himself. Along with informing others about just how international San Antonio is, Mr. Cruz also enjoys volunteering in his local community, playing sports and writing.
Senior Economic Development Specialist
Danny Khalil, Senior Economic Development Specialist
Danny Khalil is a senior economic development specialist with the City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department. As a member of the department’s international business development division, Khalil supports the recruitment of investment and talent to San Antonio with his background in public policy, urban planning, data analytics, and socioeconomics. Prior to his work with the City of San Antonio, he was as an urban planner for Kimley-Horn in Dallas and a researcher for Centro San Antonio—the city’s nonprofit downtown partnership. He holds a BA in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Josephine Van Houten
International Relations Specialist
Josephine 'Jo' Van Houten, International Relations Specialist
Ms. Josephine “Jo” Van Houten is an International Relations Specialist for the International Relations Office, a division of the Economic Development Department. Prior to joining the City of San Antonio, she received a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity University in International Studies with a concentration in International Affairs.
During her time at Trinity University, she had the unique opportunity to study in Freiburg, Germany for a semester and visited twelve other European Union countries to study the dynamics of international governance. A year later, she returned to Germany as part of a grant she received to conduct in-country research on aspects of Islamophobia in Germany.
Her other areas of research include U.S. national security and foreign relations.
In her free time, Ms. Van Houten enjoys learning about the customs of other cultures through dance, and has coordinated several traditional performances throughout the community, including Diwali and Lunar New Year events.
Sr. Administrative Assistant
Emily Cleghorn, Sr. Administrative Assistant
Ms. Cleghorn is the Senior Administrative Assistant for the International Relations Office of the City of San Antonio. Growing up both as a military dependent and the daughter of a travel reporter, Ms. Cleghorn had the opportunity to visit and live in many places both domestically and abroad before settling in Texas to attend college. Ms. Cleghorn graduated cum laude from Schreiner University with a B.A. in English, and has over a decade of experience in administrative roles.
Prior to joining the City of San Antonio, she worked at Southwest Research Institute supporting research staff, served as the department secretary of Northside Independent School District’s Adult Education and Literacy program which oversees English as a second language and citizenship classes, and acted as the senior administrative assistant of the office of the Vice President for Business Affairs at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
During her free time, Ms. Cleghorn enjoys reading, painting, and writing, and is passionate about combining charity work with the arts.
Director Casa Mexico City
Jill Metcalfe, Director Casa Mexico City
Since 1999, Ms. Metcalfe has been the international business representation for the City of San Antonio in Central and Southeast Mexico, including Mexico City, where 80% of corporate business headquarters are located.
Ms. Metcalfe organizes trade missions for San Antonio businesses and sends Mexican businesses to San Antonio for trade, investment, exchange and development. Ms. Metcalfe is a fully bicultural American/Mexican with complete fluency in Spanish and offers her business experience based on her nine years as a Financial Advisor in Mexico, a former small business owner, President of the Board of Directors of the Association of U.S. State Offices in Mexico (ASOM), Vice President of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Mexico and Member of the Board of Advisors of Mexec.
Her acumen allows her to share her insight of the Mexican business arena to ensure San Antonio entrepreneurs have the information they need to obtain the results they seek.