Board of Directors
Patrice Melançon, President
Patrice joins the board after a 33 year career in the United States Air Force. She served as the Executive Director of the Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida Reconstruction Program Management Office. Patrice was commissioned through the ROTC program at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette in 1988, graduating with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
She spent nine years on active duty prior to entering the Air Force Reserve in 1997. Patrice has been a commander twice, has experience at base level, major command, combatant command, field operating agency and Air Staff levels. She has served stateside, as well as in Europe and Southwest Asia, and has experience in both peacetime and wartime contingency operations.
In her civilian career, Patrice served as a Senior Project Manager and Engineer with CDM Smith for 15 years, overseeing projects for various federal clients and programs. She served as the Watershed Engineering Department Manager for the San Antonio River Authority where she led a team of 27 to protect and enhance the creeks and rivers of the San Antonio River Basin.
Charles Matt, Immediate Past President
Charles is a native of South Louisiana. His love of French began when hearing his father conduct business in Cajun French. He studied French in Tours, France prior to attending graduate school at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) where he earned an M.A. & S.T.B. degree.
Charles is a financial advisor with over twenty-five years of experience. He and his wife & daughter have travelled to France frequently over the years. Charles was elected President of the Alliance Française in July of 2017.
Elena Aguirre-Guidet, Board Member
Elena is a native of San Diego, CA and has lived in San Antonio since 2013. She began learning French as a second language in school, and has been passionate about French language and culture ever since.
Elena obtained her Bachelor’s degree in International Business from San Diego State University, with a focus in Marketing and French Language for Western Europe. She completed her marketing specialization in Toulouse, France while attending l’école supérieure de commerce de Toulouse (Toulouse Business School).
Elena uses her experience in marketing to help the Alliance Française de San Antonio grow its online presence across digital channels, including website; social media; email; and radio.
James G. Lifshutz, Board Member
Mr. Lifshutz was born and raised in San Antonio and left only to receive his education – including a Bachelor of Science in Industrial engineering from the University of Wisconsin, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin Graduate School of Business.
Mr. Lifshutz followed his father and grandfather into his family-owned companies engaged in real estate development, investment, and management. While this includes a variety of real estate types in locations all over San Antonio and elsewhere, Mr. Lifshutz’s concentration, as well as his passion, has been developing projects in downtown San Antonio and its near-in neighborhoods.
Mr. Lifshutz has financially supported, and has served on the boards of, numerous not-for-profit organizations that promote and support the arts and humanities, community radio, protection of the environment and enhancement of parks and green space, services to underprivileged youth, and social justice causes generally. Mr. Lifshutz travels assiduously, is a devout Francophile, and is the former Honorary Consul to France.
Josephine Hurtado, Secretary
Josephine joins the board after a thirty-year career in Engineering and Construction Management. Her work history includes extensive experience in estimate development, project and operations management for power generation and industrial projects in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Colombia. She started as a Project Construction Representative and subsequently served in various positions as Vice-President.
She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering. She began learning French at L’Alliance Française in Dominican Republic, her parents’ home country, and continues her French education through her AFSA membership. She enjoys traveling with her husband and daughters and serving in various community organizations supporting education.
Loren Kruger, Cultural Events Director
Loren is a native of Oklahoma. Upon graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Loren moved to New York and began a thirty year career in Fashion. Over the years she has lived in New York and Saudi Arabia, relocating to San Antonio in 2000.
Loren became enamored with Paris and all things French while studying abroad at the Paris Fashion Institute. She travels to Paris often, especially during Fashion Week. Loren has many years of leadership experience for non profit organizations. She has served on boards, chaired events, and volunteered endless hours to promote the arts and human rights.
Mary Cardenas, Treasurer
Mary is a third generation descendant of Belgian-American immigrants from Couesmes who settled in Belgium, IL. She is an advocate of languages and Francophile culture, believing that they link us to our past, present, and future.
Mary obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in French from Purdue University, and completed a year of study abroad in Strasbourg, France. She also holds a Master of Science in Taxation from the University of Texas, San Antonio. Mary is C.P.A. and Director of Tax for Clifton Larson Allen, LLP.
She contributes her professional expertise to help L’Alliance Française de San Antonio, and views her support as an opportunity to weave French into the cultural fabric of our historically vibrant city through contact with other Francophones.
Mitch Millar, Membership Coordinator
Mitch is a native of central Illinois who has lived in San Antonio for over 19 years. His love of French began in the early 1990s while studying on his own, and later, he continued study, participating in periodic meetings of a local French-language conversation group.
He has enjoyed traveling to France, having visited Aix-en-Provence and surrounding towns in the summers of 2013-15. Mitch is also conversational in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, and studies Korean through online courses. He enjoys participating in weekly language exchanges with friends, and serves as administrator for a Facebook group dedicated to writing in different languages.
Mitch joined the Board of the Alliance Française de San Antonio as Membership Coordinator in 2017.