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 Global Engagement Office within the Economic Development Department. She oversees international business, protocol, and official global relationships and the Casa San Antonio, San Antonio’s Trade and Foreign Office in Mexico. More specifically, 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 closely with other City of San Antonio departments to provide support on relevant international 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; is Vice President of the San Antonio Mexico Friendship Council; board member of the San Antonio Council for International Visitors. Additionally, she serves on the Global Advisory board of Musical Bridges Around the World; is an Advisory member of ;the US Mexico Business Association (AEM) San Antonio Chapter, Anuja SA-San Antonio Chennai Sister City Alliance; Japan American Society of San Antonio; and the San Antonio Creative City of Gastronomy Advisory Council. Furthermore, she is involved with international education initiatives in San Antonio serving on the Advisory Committee of the Advanced Learning Academy of the CAST Network, the Alamo Colleges International Advisory Council and Trinity University’s Center for International Engagement Advisory Council. She is a member of the San Antonio Rotary Club serving on its International Service as well as the Program Committees.
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.
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
Jill Metcalfe, Senior International Relations Specialist
Jill Metcalfe is the Senior International Relations Specialist in the Global Engagement Office of the Economic Development Department of the City of San Antonio. Ms. Metcalfe offers extensive business experience, including nine years as a Financial Advisor in a major global financial institution in Mexico, as a former small business owner, and as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Mexico.
Ms. Metcalfe joined the team in 1999 as the international business representation for the City of San Antonio within the Casa San Antonio trade office in Mexico City, where 80% of corporate business headquarters are located. Ms. Metcalfe served as director of Casa San Antonio for over 20 years, where she created opportunities within the San Antonio business community for trade missions to Mexico and promoted Foreign Direct Investment to San Antonio.
Ms. Metcalfe is a fully bilingual in English and Spanish languages and offers her bicultural experience towards the understanding of Mexico and San Antonio.
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.