Lead General Counsel
Daniela Gonzalez de Serna '95 has joined The Alamo as General Counsel. She is the first in-house attorney for the sacred Spanish mission, church and battlefield with a rich 300-year history. The Alamo, known as the Shrine of Texas Liberty under the purview of the Texas General Land Office and managed by the Alamo Trust, Inc has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered a global cultural icon. It attracts more than 1.6 million visitors per year making it one of the top tourist attractions in the State of Texas. Currently, The Alamo is undergoing a preservation, restoration and construction to restore its dignity and reverence.
Q: What inspired you to become an attorney?
A: Since my days at Saint Joseph Academy, I always loved school and learning. I knew I would pursue graduate education and wanted, not just a job, but a profession-a vocation even. At the heart of these goals was always the motivation of helping others, a value instilled in me by our Catholic education and my family. At first, I thought I would do that pursuing medicine, but while completing my Masters in Public Health, I realized I had both a love and a strength for advocacy. Law just seemed like the logical step.
Q: What is it like being the first in-house attorney for the Sacred Spanish Mission and Church?
A: Busy and incredibly rewarding! Being The Alamo's first General Counsel allows me to touch on a variety of legal topics- contract, employment, intellectual property, real estate law, not to mention politics too... the list goes on and on-so you can imagine, there is never a dull day! As the first and only in-house attorney, it also means I am setting up new processes, policies and procedures and ways of working with my legal department of one. It has been intellectually challenging, and truly just fun to go to work everyday. I feel honored to be in this job and blessed to have been given this amazing opportunity to represent such and important Texas and American landmark.
Q: What were some of your favorite things about St. Joe?
A:Some of my favorite memories at St. Joe were participating in sports - funny drills at team practices, bear workouts, bumpy bus trips to basketball games, and all-day camping under the bleachers at track meets trying to get a break from the sun. Then of course, football games, Homecoming, classes with Mr. Cantu, Dr. Filizola, Coach Hickson (Texas History!), Mr. Rosas and so many other great faculty members and coaches. I will always miss those days. I am now also grateful for our religion classes and the opportunity we had to spend time thinking and having some deeply meaningful conversations. I know all too well how hard it is to find that time in my adult life now.
Q: What was your journey like to get to where you are right now?
A: It has been quite a ride! I actually had my first child during my first year of law school, and then moved from New Mexico to Texas and had my second child during my third year. I was determined though to complete my law degree and pass the Texas bar, which looking back now seems like an incredible feat that I was only able to accomplish with the help of my husband, mother and sister along the way. After that, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. During that time, I focused on my family (my husband and our three children) and community volunteerism, starting with my children’s pre-school, and moving on to local non-profit organizations, some even with national reach. I developed my skills in fundraising, budgeting, recruiting, teamwork and leadership. This led to non-profit governance roles, which allowed me to learn more about organizational strategy and policy. I also continued my legal education via CLE's to maintain my State Bar of Texas status. I treated these volunteer positions as my job, happily giving of my time and working hard to exceed goals. Thankfully, these experiences and the people I met along the way opened up the amazing opportunity I’ve been given now. And it has been my pleasure to give back to the city I love and call home now- San Antonio.
Q: What advice would you give to future aspiring attorneys?
A: Connect with people. Try to be kind always. Do your best in all you do; you never ever know if what you are doing will help you in a different way at a different time in your life. Look at life as a great big opportunity, and let that motivate you to work hard at whatever you decide to take on. It is a representation of you, where you come from, your family and your values. In that process, find the joy in all of it. And as cliché as it sounds, listen and follow your heart... the answer is in there and you will know it when it falls on your lap.
Q: How has St. Joe contributed towards success thus far?
A: St. Joe taught me about living a life of service, to my community and to my own family. St. Joe provided me many opportunities to be involved within school and in the community. I think this lesson is taken for granted sometimes, and there is an assumption that all people believe in being of service to others. As an adult, I realize that is not always the case, and it was truly a learned value from my time there. I hope that the importance of service to others is something we will all continue to strive for and pass on to future generations.