Maria Antonietta Berriozabal earned the distinction of serving as the first Mexican American woman on the city council of a major U.S. city when she represented San Antonio's District 1 from 1981-91. She ran an impressive but ultimately unsuccessful bid for mayor of San Antonio in 1991, capturing 47 percent of the vote.


Berriozabal donated to OLLU approximately 90 cubic feet of records documenting her 10 years on San Antonio's City Council, during which council members considered several major developments for the burgeoning city. For an appointment to access the archival collection, please contact Dr. Maria Eva Flores, CDP at or call 210-528-7042.


In the fall of 1991, Berriozabal was awarded a fellowship at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She taught a course on women, minorities and public policy.

Berriozabal helped found Hispanas Unidas, a non-profit group dedicated to the education, empowerment and advancement of underserved women and girls in San Antonio.

Berriozabal has published a book about her life and heritage, "María: Daughter of Immigrants" (Wings Press) revealing her fascinating journey from her grandparents leaving Mexico to her leadership experiences as an elected official and a public servant. She captures critical cultural values that gave her strength and remain at her core.  

OLLU's "Maria A. Berriozabal Visionary Leadership Award"

In 2011, The OLLU Center for Mexican American Studies and Research (CMASR) created the “Maria Antonietta Berriozabal Visionary Leadership Award”, named after former San Antonio City Councilwoman who served the community with dedication, commitment and integrity. This award was created to recognize either a higher education faculty/staff member or a member of the community who bridges education and community. This award is given at the awards banquet in conjunction with the CMASR Annual Conference.

Recipients of this award must demonstrate evidence of:
  • Providing effective visionary leadership and risk taking that supports educational advancement within the community, especially for underserved students. 
  • Providing leadership to advance the cause of social justice in the community. 
Award Recipients:
  • 2013 - Al Kauffman
  • 2012 – Rosie Castro
  • 2011 – Dr. Antonio Rigual

2013 Al Kauffman                         2012 Rosie Castro (left)

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