In honor of National Mentoring Day 2021, ULI member Ana Marcela Gonzalez, Project Coordinator at Brooks, explains how her experience in the ULI San Antonio Mentorship Forum shaped her future.

How a mentorship program shaped my future

By Ana Gonzalez


Ana GonzalezMentorship is a pivotal part of one’s professional career. Mentors guide us through life on a personal and professional level. I have been lucky enough to have a network of individuals that pushed me to join a program focused on professional growth and knowledge about the development industry. Little did I know after this program, I would be pursuing a career in real estate development.

I relocated to San Antonio from Mission, Texas, and embarked on my journey with Brooks as a Development Project Coordinator in 2018. Along with my team, I help attract marquee employers, work closely with public officials, and maintain communication with our economic development partners. Prior to joining Brooks team in September 2018, I worked with Hidalgo County Commissioner’s Court as the lead on infrastructure. As a new resident I set out to build relationships and to learn more about the development industry. I was given the opportunity to apply to the Urban Land Institute San Antonio Young Leaders Group Mentorship Forum. I decided to pursue the program while not yet recognizing the valuable relationships that would come out of it.

My mentor for the program was Andres Andujar, President and CEO of Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation. Mr. Andujar shared his vision and the great things he had been undertaking to redevelop and activate north of Downtown San Antonio and the 400-acre urban rezoning and creation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ).

During my time in the program, we visited various developments to include The ’68 apartments developed by AREA Real Estate. Though the project was still under construction, I was in awe of the intricacies that go into public and private partnerships. As mentioned before, earlier in my career, I worked in the public sector. The importance to have private and public partnerships is crucial because of the sources of investment and revenue to the community. We also toured the new Frost Tower, the iconic new high-rise building in downtown San Antonio. The developers took time to assess the surrounding area when designing and worked in a park to increase the walkability in the urban environment. These little details are what has drawn me to the real estate development world.

Brooks was in the process of designing our master plan with the support from various partners to include Overland, Munoz & Co., Pape-Dawson, Gomez Vasquez International, the San Antonio River Authority, and the City of San Antonio. I remember getting to sit in our working sessions and discussing different concepts and features to incorporate into our growing campus. We dug into what other areas of town are doing well, what could be improved and what was feasible at Brooks. Getting to sit around a table and discuss ideas was a great experience. I was able to help foster relationships with partnerships and contribute to something bigger than myself.

Three years after the program, I can confidently say that the ULI San Antonio Young Leaders Mentorship program was a great forum to network with industry professionals who desire to help others grow. Being able to meet experts in real estate development, engineering, and architecture allowed me to learn from the ground up. I have been lucky enough to tap into this network and collaborate on different projects. From renovating historic buildings to building facilities and parks through our vibrant campus, I am excited to see how these relationships will continue to flourish.

Brooks is a unique development and being a part of this community holds a special place within me. I am lucky to work in an environment that aligns with my future goals and invests in my professional development. As I continue my path to becoming a realtor, my mentors continue to help me stay grounded and be my best. On this National Mentorship Day October 27, 2021, remember “your future, our tomorrow. Let’s build it together”.