Driven by a need to provide quality professional development opportunities to local public sector workers, a group of City of San Antonio employees, under the guidance of retired City Manager Alexander E. Briseno, ventured forth to establish the Urban Management Assistants of South Texas (UMAST) in 1979. The Texas City Managers Association (TCMA) served as the inspiration from which UMAST would embody its structural and programmatic composition, a foundation that would further be enhanced by a more centralized locality and a more diverse membership base.
What TCMA taught the founders of UMAST is that a professional organization can open several doors to the sharing of information through networking and engaging in dialogue with others about issues that affect the public sector. Just as TCMA allowed city managers from various jurisdictions to engage in meaningful dialogue, UMAST sought to open those lines of communication for professionals in the South Texas region.
The City of San Antonio embraced UMAST and provided the fertile ground from which the organization eventually took root and flourished. In turn, UMAST has volunteered its members for both city-sponsored as well as non-city sponsored events, projects, and fundraisers around the community. This synergy established from this partnership has been a win-win situation for all parties involved: for local government entities, for UMAST, and for impacted volunteer organizations.
The professional development and educational component of UMAST is what contributes the most appeal to a potential member. Through a nominal fee of membership, UMAST offers a wide variety of professional development opportunities that allow members exposure to various subject matter experts both from San Antonio and abroad. UMAST program luncheons features a dynamic speaker learning about the aims and objectives of the organizations and willingly and enthusiastically offer their services.
Our Annual Conference is another significant component in the professional development package. The conference is a high caliber seminar that offers various break-out sessions on subject matter tailored to specific subtopics of the conference theme. Again, UMAST is able to provide a professional, sophisticated conference at a very low cost to members. Themes on the past have focused on technological issues, the challenges facing municipalities, and the importance of embracing change.
UMAST members also become subscribers to the Sur Tejas Voice, the organization's newsletter. Newsletters focus on various issues related to local government, offer advice and tips for professional development, highlight volunteer opportunities, and provide information on upcoming professional development events. In 2004, UMAST launched its electronic newsletter as it too underwent change and learned to efficiently deliver services to its members.
UMAST has seen many of its members achieve various accomplishments in their careers. One of the organizations first presidents was Howard Peak who later became Mayor of San Antonio. UMAST has also seen various past presidents become members of the City of Antonio's executive and management teams, including Assistant City Managers. Our reflection of UMAST's history shows a vibrant organization that steadfastly attains its objectives to the continued improvement and development of public sector professionals.