San Antonio Area Foundation Announces Four New Board Members

The San Antonio Area Foundation announces the appointment of four new members to the board of directors.

Joining the board of directors are Michael J. Bolner, Barbara “Barbie” O’Connor, Gurpaul Singh and Suzanne Wade.

“Our four newest board member each bring unique and strategic strengths to the Area Foundation,” said Marjie M. French, chief executive officer of the San Antonio Area Foundation. “We’re excited to have them contribute their many talents and provide guidance as we continue to strengthen community in San Antonio.”

Michael J. “Mike” Bolner

Michael J. “Mike” Bolner is vice president of sales and marketing for Bolner’s Fiesta Products (retiring end of 2020), a spice and seasoning manufacturer in San Antonio. He first became involved with the Area Foundation through his father, Clif Bolner, who has had two funds at the Foundation for many years. Based on his family’s experience with the foundation, Mike Bolner and his wife founded a donor-advised fund there several years ago.

“We are extremely satisfied with the way the Foundation operates and I wanted to lend my assistance to the board for the benefit of others,” Bolner said.

Bolner’s Fiesta Products have sales in all 50 states, Mexico and Europe. The company imports spices from more than 60 countries and sells more than 600 products. His current civic involvement activities include the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Audit/Finance Committee, the Witte Museum Executive Committee and the San Antonio A&M Club Endowment Committee. Past volunteer service includes the Children’s Habilitation Center, Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, Institute of Food Technologists, the International Order of Alhambra and the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Michael is a 1973 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he earned a degree in business administration.

He and his wife Mary Pat have three children and four grandchildren.

Barbara “Barbie” O’Connor

Barbara “Barbie” O’Connor is a San Antonio native with nearly two decades of service as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, where she became the first woman in the San Antonio area promoted to vice president of the national firm. A fluent Spanish speaker, she focused her work on assisting Mexican nationals living in San Antonio.

During her tenure at Merrill Lynch, she presented seminars on estate planning and charitable giving. It was at one such presentation, to Family Violence Prevention Services, where she met Toby O’Connor, her husband of 23 years.

O’Connor became a published author in 2013 with her first book, MoneySmarts4U: The Basics, for high school and college students seeking to learn money management basics.

O’Connor has a long history of civic involvement, including serving on the boards of the YMCA, Planned Parenthood of San Antonio, Charity Ball Association of San Antonio, Jewish Family Service, Girl Scouts of San Antonio, Red Cross of San Antonio, McNay Art Museum and Charity Ball Legacy Foundation.

She also served on the development board of UT Health San Antonio, the steering committee for Leadership San Antonio and the Las Casas Foundation. Additionally, she was a co-founder of the Ambassador’s Circle of the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Center.

“To help build and support the community where I grew up will be one of the most interesting and educational opportunities of my life,” O’Connor said. “I am looking forward to helping others learn about how philanthropy can enrich their lives, that of their families, and the community, as well.”

Gurpaul Singh

Gurpaul Singh brings a unique combination of technology, business and management expertise to the board.  Singh manages a portfolio of real estate, technology and private equity investments. 

Born and raised in New Zealand, he moved to Texas at 14.  He graduated from medical school in 1995 and received the class prize in Family Practice.

After practicing as a physician for several years, he put into practice his passion for technology.  He joined Karta Technologies in 1999, focusing on online healthcare training.  As a member of the senior leadership team, he managed a team of 100 software and learning professionals with a diverse client base of government, defense and Fortune 500 companies.

Gurpaul co-founded an e-procurement start-up in 2009, eSupply Systems and served as chairman of the board. Concurrently, he founded a telecommunications consulting firm, Asset Essentials, representing over 1.1. million multi-family units nationwide. Gurpaul is active in the local community.  He served on the Mayor’s Leadership and Steering Committee for SA2020 and went on to serve as Vice Chairman of SA2020. Gurpaul is a Board Member of the San Antonio Medical Foundation. Gurpaul is married to his wife, Jasmeet, and they have two sons who are 10 and 12.

“It’s a great privilege to serve on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. I consider it an honor but more importantly a great responsibility to oversee precious resources directed towards serving our fellow community members where there is greatest need,” Singh said. “I look forward to understanding how we can be most impactful as a community foundation, especially during the pandemic, since there is a sudden increased need for help and support.”

Suzanne Wade’s

Suzanne Wade’s retail career spans over 40 years. Starting as a sales clerk during her high school and college days, her career culminated with senior executive positions at Wal-Mart and H-E-B.

Her retail career actually began by teaching fashion merchandising in Oklahoma, with the goal of owning her own retail store. She was recruited to corporate training opportunities, first at TG&Y Stores and later to Wal-Mart, where she launched the Walton Institute of Retailing. Suzanne spent 11 years at Wal-Mart, serving as Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Senior Vice President of Membership, Marketing and Administration for Sam’s Club. 

Suzanne joined H-E-B in 1997 as Group Vice President of Sales and Advertising and later added H-E-B Own Brand to her responsibilities, eventually also serving as Senior Vice President of Human Resources.  However, for most of her career at H-E-B, she led the company’s largest operating division as President of San Antonio Food/Drug Stores. She continued serving on H-E-B’s senior leadership team and the its Board of Directors until her retirement in December 2019. 

She has served on numerous retail advisory boards and community initiatives during her retail career.  She is the past chair of the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, founding chair of the San Antonio American Heart Association Circle of Red Giving Fund, Founding Chair of Teach for America, San Antonio Region and member of the National Board of Girl Scouts USA. She currently serves as the Board Chair for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

Suzanne has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from the University of Oklahoma. She is married to Dick Wade with two daughters and four grandchildren. 

“I am excited and honored to serve on the San Antonio Area Foundation Board,” Wade said. “I look forward to learning much more about our community needs and philanthropy all while working with the very talented Area Foundation team and fellow Board members.”