Paula Owen

Paula Owen - President

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  View Paula's CV

Paula Owen began her tenure as President of Southwest School of Art in 1996.  Since then, the School’s size, scope, and influence have grown considerably and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program has been added.

Owen has served on national and regional boards and panels, including the Pew Artist Fellowships and the National Endowment for the Arts. She currently serves on the board of Centro San Antonio, on VisitSA's Cultural Task Force, and on the Public Art Committee.  Owen is a published writer and co-authored the book, Objects and Meaning: New Perspectives on Art and Craft, published by Scarecrow Press.  She has also been the curator of many exhibitions and written numerous exhibition catalogs.

Owen is also a practicing artist and holds an MFA in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She has shown her work in numerous group and solo shows throughout the nation.

Heather Vacek

Heather Vacek - Vice President of Finance and Administration/CFO

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Heather Vacek has served as a senior financial officer for multimillion dollar corporations including Central Texas Refuse, Tiger Sanitation and Liberto Management, where she led accounting, human resource and IT departments.

She previously served as Southwest School of Art CFO from 2012-2014 where she directed the accounting department responsible for preparation of all financial reporting for governmental and funding agencies, coordinated with outside auditors to complete the annual external audit and tax preparation and oversaw human resources including payroll, benefits and record management. Vacek implemented an online time-keeping system resulting in 20% reduction time for payroll processing while further automating other HR systems including online HR document management. She established and maintained pertinent policies and internal control safeguards across the school’s operational departments increasing productivity resulting in cost savings in several departments.

Vacek holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

Debra Del Toro

Debra Del Toro - Vice President of Communications and Recruitment Strategy

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Debra Del Toro has over 15 years of experience in higher education in the areas of communications, public relations, and admissions.

She served as director of communications and marketing at the University of the Incarnate Word for many years where she developed marketing strategies, chaired committees, and managed multiple budgets totaling over $1.5 million for the 4th largest private university in Texas. 

She led the team responsible for planning and coordinating university events, launched strategic social media initiatives to increase enrollment/enhance brand recognition, and created avenues to improve internal communications and community relations.

Early in her career, she served as an admissions counselor at St. Mary’s University where she managed a recruitment territory including 10 San Antonio high schools, Texas schools in Austin/Central Texas, Laredo, Eagle Pass and Del Rio and out-of-state territories including Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Del Toro holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/Communication Arts from St. Mary’s University.

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