Luisa Casso is coming to Trinity University on a mission.
As chief of staff for the President’s Office, a newly-created position, she’ll be a member of the Executive Leadership Team, promoting collaboration and internal alignment, building external relationships, and helping carry out the University’s strategic plan.
“I am thrilled to be joining Dr. Vanessa Beasley and her Executive Leadership Team, and the rest of the University,” says Casso. “You feel an energy here. And I am so excited to be here to help advance the University by creating a positive environment for future leaders.”
For Casso, all of her priorities map to one goal:
“My work at Trinity is not just about the university, ‘the institution.’ This is about the students,” Casso says. “This is about cultivating an environment for future change makers. That's what I am most excited about.”
To accomplish this, Casso says she wants to build connections for Trinity University, both across campus and stretching further out into the San Antonio community. And she’s got the resume to get this job done.
Casso is coming to Trinity with an impressive, two-decade work record that spans the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Most recently, she served as the manager of corporate communications for Toyota Motor North America, Inc., overseeing community and media engagement and philanthropic giving for the San Antonio community.
Across her professional journey, Casso says she’s taken pride not only in what she can build, but what she can build to last.
Casso, who is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, started off her career working as a senior adviser to the city’s mayor, then spent eight years building a nonprofit organization aimed at revitalizing Albuquerque’s downtown area. This public service gave Casso experience working in economic development, managing budgets, and building partnerships with her staff.
“When I look at things that I have the most pride in throughout my career, some of the projects that I’ve worked on are still standing today,” Casso says. “I can go back to Albuquerque, see some of the developments that are still existing, and know I helped make that happen.”
Moving into the corporate world, Casso spent time with Coca-Cola and then Toyota, where she says she “really discovered that side of corporate America that can make change happen, with corporate funds, partnerships, and collaborations.
“The lessons that I have learned, whether it be Coca-Cola, Toyota, working at the city of Albuquerque, or running a nonprofit, they’ve all brought me to Trinity with ideas of public policy, corporate process, and efficiencies, all of which can help to move the needle on the strategies that are going to advance Trinity,” Casso says.
And just as important as her work history, Casso says she’s also coming to Trinity with a strong sense of what makes the University and San Antonio special.
First, Casso is also a graduate of a liberal arts institution, attending Occidental College in Los Angeles, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Casso has studied Middle Eastern politics, Egyptian history, and Arabic at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt; and Mexican politics, history, literature, and Spanish at the Centro Bilingue in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
“That's what I think is amazing about a liberal arts education: You come out equipped to discern and make your mark on the diverse world we live in,” Casso says.
Casso has also embodied Trinity’s value of lifelong learning, taking on an incredibly diverse set of educational experiences that have continued alongside her professional life, such as earning a Leadership Institute Governance Certificate from the Alvarez College of Business at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
And Casso, when given the chance earlier in her career between moving to Austin or moving to San Antonio, says she received the inspiration to make the right decision during Fiesta.
“I was on the balcony of the Contessa Hotel on the Riverwalk and listening to mariachi music, and I realized that San Antonio is in my blood. This is where I wanted to be,” Casso says. “I wanted to be close to the culture that I know and the language that I speak. And I decided the next day to start looking for apartments. And 12 years later, I'm here in a community that’s embraced me, that I am embedded in, that I have flourished in, and that I and that I now call home.”
“What's incredible to me is that this University has such deep roots in San Antonio,” she continues. “I'm excited about being a part of this team and helping to strengthen those ties with the community.”
Going forward, Casso says simply accomplishing her mission—advancing Trinity as a positive environment for future leaders—isn’t all she’s bringing to the role. Partners in every corner of the Trinity community can expect her to accomplish her mission with kindness.
“Kindness is a simple act of respect. That is my personal mantra that my father taught me from a very young age,” Casso says. “When you have respect, you nurture and you invite diversity. You nurture a diversity of cultures, a diversity of thought. And in this type of environment, that's where you have innovation and advancement, because people feel comfortable when they know that they're respected and they can share their ideas.”