Photo courtesy of San Antonio Economic Development Foundation

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Jenna Saucedo-Herrera.

Diversity and development drive Jenna Saucedo-Herrera to help the city of San Antonio grow through domestic and international business relationships. Her experience in various leadership roles in CPS Energy, the largest municipally owned electric and gas energy provider in the nation, means this 29-year-old knows what it takes to innovate.

As the president and CEO of San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF), Saucedo-Herrera uses her personal experience with the local San Antonio heritage and unique needs to attract new businesses to the Alamo City. SAEDF is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission of bringing new businesses and industries to the city, facilitating growth and expansion into San Antonio. The organization is leading SA2020’s Economic Competitiveness initiative to build a better San Antonio by 2020.

Saucedo-Herrera chatted with us about the keys to success.

CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?

Jenna Saucedo-Herrera: I’m motivated by the ability to make a meaningful difference. In all that I do personally and professionally, I hope to provide real and productive value. My family, colleagues, and team members inspire me to be better every day.

CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?

JSH: Success leaves clues. Be open-minded, observe leaders around you, and never stop learning.

CM: Sum up Texas in three words.

JSH: Proud, mighty, diverse.

CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?

JSH: I have a black belt in taekwondo.

CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”

JSH: I’ve produced, learned, inspired, engaged, and made a difference.

Photo courtesy of Favor

Meet the winners in the first-ever Top Texans Under 30

Twentysomething Trailblazers

For the first time, CultureMap celebrates twentysomething trailblazers in the Top Texans Under 30. These are the state’s budding power players.

We solicited nominations from the public, narrowed down the finalists, and put those impressive young professionals in front of a panel of expert judges — Trey Bowles, Felix Chevalier, Bryan DeLuca, Renee Rouleau, and Kendra Scott — to determine the winners.

The result? This list of 26 dynamic Texans, who impress with their innovation, dedication, and leadership, regardless of industry or cause.

Meet the Top Texans Under 30 for 2016 (and look for more in-depth profiles in the weeks to come):

Adam Jacoby, 29
Owner, Jacobys Restaurant & Mercantile

The man behind East Austin’s beloved ranch-to-table restaurant grew up with the business in his blood, thanks to his family’s indispensable feed and seed store. Jacoby decided to expand into the eatery realm after his freshman year at the University of Texas, and now eager diners enjoy a menu of Southern staples made with meats from his family’s ranch, then stay to shop the artisanal foods and vintage goods in the attached mercantile.

Adam Kraus, 29
Founder, Dallas Autumn Ball

With a vision of opening up charitable giving to more young professionals in Dallas, and a passion for education, Adam Kraus has helped raise more than $85,000 for North Texas education organizations. Although the fall event is a must-attend for many, Dallas Autumn Ball also connects people with volunteer opportunities throughout the year. His vision for the future is one that’s led by today’s young professionals, many of whom push boundaries like Kraus loves to do.

Andyshea Saberioon, 28, and Ricky Johnson, 28
Co-founders, PledgeCents

Driven by a passion for education and technology, Houstonians Andyshea Saberioon and Ricky Johnson founded PledgeCents in 2013 as a way for teachers to raise funds for their classrooms. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and their organization has already made a huge impact in the lives of kids across the nation. To date, PledgeCents has raised nearly $600,000 for more than 300,000 students.

Anne Gardner, 27
Owner, Cilantro Lime

With a background in plant physiology and a graduate degree in biology, Austinite Anne Gardner understands food on a molecular level. She also knows it should taste good, so she combined her expertise with a love of travel to create a meal delivery service that encourages culinary adventures. Together with her husband, James, Gardner sources sustainable ingredients and local meats and vegetables, then pairs them with recipes that pay homage to classic global cuisines.

Ben Doherty, 27, and Zac Maurais, 27
Co-founders, Favor

Like something out of Hollywood, Ben Doherty and Zac Maurais were working in Doherty’s parents’ basement when the idea for an on-demand delivery app struck. Armed with nothing but a book on basic web development and the determination to make their great plan work, the Austin pair built an app from scratch. Today Favor is available in 18 cities across the United States, significantly boosting the local economies in each.

Cooper Anderson, 29, and Ross McLauchlan, 27
Co-founders, Austin Winery

Cooper Anderson and Ross McLauchlan co-founded Austin Winery on the premise that it should be as relaxed and local as possible. The first of its kind within Austin city limits, the urban winery is distinctly Texan. Although the grapes are grown elsewhere, everything — from the fermentation and filtration to the bottling, serving, and enjoyment — takes place in town.

Dr. Dakota Carter, 28
Psychiatrist, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, andDemocratic nominee for Texas State Board of Education

The first in his family to attend college, Dakota Carter went all in, earning a degree in political science with minors in biology, chemistry, and Spanish. Then he went on to medical school, focusing on adolescent psychiatry, and is now pursuing his doctorate in education. Carter is the first openly gay Democratic nominee to run for a State Board of Education seat, and one of the two nonprofits he’s founded in Houston serves troubled LGBT youth.

Dominik Stein, 29
Co-founder, Verts Mediterranean Grill

Looking to reimagine the Mediterranean food enjoyed in his native Europe, Dominik Stein, along with Michael Heyne, founded the fast-casual restaurant with the memorable name in 2011. (It was formerly known as Vertskebap.) At the build-it-yourself concept, diners choose from pitas, wraps, salads, and rice bowls, to which they add fresh meats and fillings. It began in Austin, and there are currently 30 Texas locations, with plans to expand soon to the East Coast.

Hunter Pond, 29
Founder, East Hampton Sandwich Co.

When Hunter Pond saw a gap in the restaurant industry, he set about filling it by providing customers with a menu stacked with sandwiches featuring meat and sauces prepared in-house, without all the hormones and chemicals of other sandwich shops. When East Hampton Sandwich Co. opened in 2012 at Dallas’ Snider Plaza, it was greeted by eager foodies. Today there are six locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth.

Jason Bornhorst, 30
Founder, Patient IO

A serial entrepreneur with a passion for healthcare innovation, Bornhorst founded Patient IO, which engages patients and caregivers outside the clinic. Prior to that, the Austin mover and shaker was the director of product management at Mobiata, the company that built FlightTrack, one of the highest-grossing travel apps to hit the market. Mobiata was acquired by Expedia in 2010, and Bornhorst led the team who built the award-winning and user-friendly Expedia mobile app.

Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, 29
President and CEO, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation

When businesses are looking to relocate or expand to San Antonio, Jenna Saucedo-Herrera is their point person. She and her team at the private nonprofit work in conjunction with local businesses, gather all possible incentives, and even arrange analyses of the labor market, proving why Alamo City is right for their particular industry. In the last five years alone, SAEDF has brought in an economic impact of more than $5.5 billion.

Jon Alsup, 25
Vice president of technology, OpenKey; partner, Nuckols Real Estate

Some people claim they have a passion for travel, but Dallasite Jon Alsup is always on the go to a new locale. So it comes as no surprise that he made a business out of his hobby: OpenKey, a mobile key technology for hotel rooms, helps streamline guests’ experiences. The down-to-earth former college football player continually thinks up new ways to innovate.

Kathleen Perley, 28
Founder, Decode Digital

A self-described “closet nerd at heart,” Houstonian Kathleen Perley took her penchant for TED Talks and a fascination with the ever-changing world of digital marketing and created her own agency — despite warnings about entrepreneurship risks from others. But the Fulbright scholar was undeterred, and now her Decode Digital has grown into a go-to resource for B2B and B2C companies looking to improve their online presence.

Katie Fang, 25
Founder, SchooLinks

Founded by Austinite Katie Fang in 2014, SchooLinks takes the ambiguity and confusion out of the college application process by connecting students with colleges and academic advisors via an easy-to-use platform. It supports applicants through every step of the process, which starts by matching applicants with schools that best fit their academic goals and interests. The platform also provides space for open conversation between students and advisors.

Kelly Wynne Ferguson, 29
Founder, Kelly Wynne Handbags

Kelly Wynne Ferguson started her eponymous handbag line in 2012, at her parents’ kitchen table. By 2013, she had launched an online store, and soon after her accessories were picked up by exclusive boutiques around the state. Named a Rising Fashion Star in 2014 during Austin Fashion Week, Ferguson’s first storefront opens later this month at the Capital City’s Domain Northside. Her handbags are playful and bold, just like the designer, and they range from girl-about-town totes to cocktail party-worthy clutches.

Lizzie Velasquez, 27
YouTube sensation and motivational speaker

A small woman with a huge heart of gold, Lizzie Velasquez went from being the target of cyberbullying to one of the leading advocates for the first federal anti-bullying bill, the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Open and honest, the Austinite has amassed an impressive YouTube following and speaks at events around the nation. The documentary about her life, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, has garnered scores of awards, and she’s currently working on her first book.

Mariame Aana, 27
Supervising attorney, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Driven to help immigrants live the life of their dreams, Mariame Aana oversees the St. Frances Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance’s pro bono program and coordinates the program’s outreach efforts. Proficient in French, Spanish, and Arabic, Aana also dabbles in Mandarin, and she has an MBA in addition to her law degree. She uses these skills and her passion for service to help DACA applicants, legal permanent residents seeking citizenship, and others make a life for themselves in the United States.

Matt Alexander, 28
Founder and CEO, Edition Collective

It’s hard to keep up with Dallasite Matt Alexander, as he seems to churn out e-commerce and media concepts almost without pause. He’s the founder of Edition Collective, the parent of Imprint (formerly Need), a curated retail concept for men; Foremost, an American-made clothing brand for men and women; and Unbranded, a shop that pops up over the holidays to give other indie brands a storefront. So that other creators can learn to follow in his footsteps, Alexander is a mentor and advisor for both Tech Wildcatters and REVTECH.

Mohamad Maarouf, 29
Principal, KIPP Houston High School

Driven to build a better future through providing kids with a quality education, Mohamad Maarouf serves as principal of KIPP Houston High School, where he is as much a mentor as an administrator. The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) is designed for underserved students who might otherwise have limited access to empowering academic programs. As principal, Maarouf never misses a school sporting event, hangs out with the kids whenever he can, and has even tutored students on Saturdays when they need it.

Nick Marino Jr., 28
Director of social change, TangoTab

Founded in 2011, TangoTab has already fed more than a million people simply by connecting restaurants with local food charities. When diners use the app to reserve a table and then check in, the restaurant pays TangoTab a fee. A portion of that fee then goes to the charity, providing a meal for someone in need. In addition to promoting TangoTab daily, the purpose-driven Nick Marino Jr. started clothing line MISSION’D, which helps nonprofits and individuals raise money for mission trips.

Paul Hedrick, 28
Founder and CEO, Tecovas Boots

It shouldn’t break the bank to rock true Texan style, or at least that’s how Paul Hedrick saw it. The entry price point for a well-made pair of cowboy boots could sometimes be exorbitant, so the Austinite got to work building an online retailer that cut out the brick-and-mortar mark-up while still delivering quality leather boots meant to last a lifetime. He also aimed to make digital shopping a friendlier experience, earning lifelong loyalty from satisfied customers.

Stephanie Hansen, 29
Founder, Bravelets

When Stephanie Hansen’s mother was battling breast cancer, her family needed something to remind them all to be strong. That need manifested into bracelets bearing a triangle symbol and the phrase “be brave.” Each piece of Bravelets jewelry also comes attached to a cause, with 10 percent of each sales price going directly to it. To date, Hansen’s Bravelets team has raised more than $2.5 million to support groups ranging from the Lung Cancer Alliance to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Whitney Wolfe, 27
Founder, Bumble

The age of internet dating brought about its share of problems — including reinforcing antiquated dating norms — so Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe decided to make things less creepy. With the Bumble app, women make the first move, and only if there’s mutual interest. But Bumble isn’t just for romantic relationships: There’s also Bumble BFF, which helps users find new friends. The team running Bumble is also predominantly female, a rarity in the tech startup world.

Zac Maurais (left) and Ben Doherty, Favor

Ben Doherty and Zac Maurais of Favor Delivery
Photo courtesy of Favor
Zac Maurais (left) and Ben Doherty, Favor
Kendra Scott/Facebook

Meet the judges for the inaugural Top Texans Under 30

Meet the Judges

Earlier this summer, CultureMap announced a new program called Top Texans Under 30, in which we celebrate the twentysomething power players making things happen in business and community.

To determine the 2016 honorees, we solicited help from fellow Texans who have themselves made an impact. After the editors culled a group of finalists from the vast pool of public nominations, our expert panel reviewed the list and chose the winners.

Before we reveal the names of Texas’ newest trailblazers, we first wanted to introduce the judges, without whom we couldn’t have made this program happen:

Trey Bowles
Co-founder and CEO, Dallas Entrepreneur Center
A champion of the Dallas startup scene, Bowles has built numerous for-profit and nonprofit organizations and now leads strategy, vision, and overall development for the DEC. Together with Mayor Mike Rawlings, he co-founded the Mayor’s Star Council, a group of culturally diverse and civically minded young professionals who make an impact on the city.

Bowles also launched an entrepreneurship department at SMU in the Meadows School of Arts, where he still serves as an adjunct professor. Most recently, he co-founded and launched the Dallas Innovation Alliance, a public-private partnership with the City of Dallas, local leading nonprofits, and major corporate partners to design, develop, and launch a Smart Cities initiative in downtown Dallas.

Bryan DeLuca
Chief executive officer, Foot Cardigan

A self-proclaimed eternal optimist, and the fastest beard-grower in the West, DeLuca majored in music business at Belmont University in Nashville — which worked out well, because he’s now the face and brains of a sock company: Foot Cardigan, of Shark Tank fame. A Europhile at heart, the Dallasite possesses a charisma that puts others at ease while simultaneously inviting them to join the fun. Foot Cardigan also has a spin-off for kids called Whippersnapper.

Felix Chevalier
Managing member, Chevalier Law Firm

A native New Yorker of Cuban descent, Chevalier is an experienced transactional and government affairs lawyer representing governmental agencies and Fortune 500 companies in a cross section of industries. Recently the Houstonian joined Engage Cuba, a national organization lobbying Congress to lift the embargo against Cuba. He’s assisting U.S. firms with market entry into Cuba.

Chevalier’s civic engagement includes serving on the Greater Houston Partnership’s International Trade Development Committee and Government Relations Advisory Committee. He’s also the founder of Key PAC, a nonpartisan political action committee with a national reach, comprising corporate executives, business owners, educators, and other professionals.

Renee Rouleau
Founder, Renee Rouleau

Rouleau is a trusted skincare expert whose products and facial treatments have been helping both women and men attain healthy, glowing, beautiful skin for more than 25 years. She has two spas in Dallas and a robust e-commerce business, thanks to an innovative line of more than 60 results-oriented skincare products that address nine distinct skin types.

With a track record of proven results — you need only look at her own beautiful complexion — Rouleau has earned the trust of clients around the world, including celebrities like Sofia Vergara, Emma Roberts, and Demi Lovato. She’s now based in Austin.

Kendra Scott
Designer and CEO, Kendra Scott

Scott started her company in 2002 with only $500 and just three months after her first son was born. Armed with a tea box full of her jewelry, she went door to door to boutiques, wowing potential customers with her infectious personality and unique eye for design.

Using natural stones and custom-design shapes, Scott’s jewelry has won over women in her home state of Texas and celebrities alike. Today, she runs a multimillion-dollar business based in Austin, with a focus on family, fashion, and philanthropy. In the past 12 months, the company donated $1.4 million and 50,000 pieces of jewelry while working with more than 1,000 local and national organizations.

Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott Danielle jewelry deisgn
Kendra Scott/Facebook
Kendra Scott
Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From hotel accolades to urban treasure hunting, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live in new national report. San Antonio was previously the No. 75 place to live in America in 2021, tumbling to No. 83 in 2022 and dropping even further down the list to No. 103 in 2023.

2. Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this holiday weekend. Check out Spoon or Kool and the Gang tonight, or head to UTSA for their annual Asian festival.

3. This is how big San Antonio apartments get for $1,500 a month. San Antonio renters can find apartments that span 1,010 square feet for $1,500 a month.

4. Posh Pearl hotel books top spot on best luxury hotels in U.S. list. Tripadvisor's coveted Travelers' Choice Best of Best Awards recently gave Hotel Emma top marks in two categories.

5. Texas unearths new ranking as 2nd best state for urban treasure hunting. Fun fact: Texas has the highest number of metal detecting sites in the nation.

Fine dining chef unpacks nostalgic pop-up concept at popular Grayson Street bar on Memorial Day


With new restaurants seemingly opening daily, San Antonio’s culinary scene is more exhilarating than ever. But even those with a packed reservation schedule sometimes crave something different.

Enter pop-ups — a San Antonio obsession that grows more popular each month. The latest to enter the fray is Restaurant Claudine chef Mel Cavazos, who will debut Throwback Sammies, a one-night-only concept sprouting up at Three Star Bar on May 29.

“I want to do something comforting that everyone can relate to,” explains Cavazos of the nostalgic concept. “I want the menu to read simply but totally unexpected when you eat it.”

The small menu includes a trio of dishes that evoke childhood memories. Cheese bread is reimagined with Romesco sauce, burrata, and basil, while another sandwich has all the fixings of a Sunday pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Those desperately waiting for fall will no doubt flock to the Thanksgiving Meltdown, complete with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry.

One dish, however, is even more personal. In honor of a recently passed friend, Cavazos added a “secret” vegan sandwich featuring buffalo cauliflower and homemade pickled vegetables.

“He loved his vegan wings,” Cavazos remembers.

The chef tells CultureMap that Throwback Sammies is just the start of a series of pop-ups she hopes to hold monthly. As she continues developing a career at Carpenter Carpenter Hospitality’s ever-growing restaurant empire, she sees the pop-up series as a chance to keep exploring her culinary voice.

“I want to expand and explore more options,” Cavazos says, adding, “I love sandwiches, but that’s not what I like to be known for.”

Throwback Sammies starts at 8 pm and runs until supplies run out. Future pop-ups will be announced via Instagram.

Texas' best restaurants and bars reign at 2023 Tastemaker Awards


It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books, folks. Our statewide journey to recognize some of the best chefs, restaurants, and more in 2023 has finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemakers at Silver Street Studios, then we moved to Cowtown for our Fort Worth event on April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us to our Metroplex neighbors in Dallas at the Fashion Industry Gallery on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The 2023 Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

Nominees are brought forth by a panel of previous Tastemaker winners and CultureMap editors. While the panel choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament. New this year in each city, a sizzling on-site Burger Throwdown sponsored by Goodstock Beef by Nolan Ryan.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners, listed by city:

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ


K\u00fcnstler doppelbock
Künstler Brewing Instagram

Künstler Brewing is our Brewery of the Year.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company


  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.


  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day