Julianna Hawn Holt Named Spurs Sports & Entertainment Chairman And CEO
By: Lorne Chan Spurs.com
Julianna Hawn Holt has been a rancher, a banking executive, a philanthropist and a devoted mother and grandmother.
For a few months in 2002, she also wore a hardhat.
Julianna was heavily involved in the construction of the AT&T Center, adding her imprint from the original design of the arena to the selection of the art around the concourses.
She wanted an arena that could be home for everyone in South Texas, one that would represent the values of Spurs Sports & Entertainment and reflect the history and beauty of the region she calls home.
Having worked with her husband, Peter Holt, since they joined the Spurs ownership group in 1996, Julianna was named Chairman and CEO of Spurs Sports & Entertainment on Wednesday.
“It’s been thrilling to have been a part of this ownership group for the past 20 years,” Julianna said. “I’ve been proud of how far the organization has come in that time, and will do my best to continue the strength of this franchise. Obviously, Peter is quite an act to follow, but we have important values and our goal is to keep the Spurs’ pattern of success in the years to come.”
Julianna Holt is a South Texas native, born on the Gulf Coast in Corpus Christi. Her father, John Hawn, was a World War II pilot who followed his father into the oil business along with his three brothers, starting Hawn Brothers Production. As their business evolved, the brothers founded American Bank in Corpus Christi in 1970. It has grown into the city’s largest bank.
Through her father and her uncle, George Hawn, Julianna developed her business acumen. She was a partner at American Bank as it weathered an oil bust and recession in the 1980s, a time when many local banks folded.
“We’re a family bank, and I watched as we worked very carefully with each person that came through our doors,” said Julianna. “I saw the importance of building skill and character, keeping good humor and the desire to work hard.”
The Holt family moved to San Antonio in 1988, when they also became Spurs season ticket members.
When Hawn Holt Sports joined the Spurs Sports & Entertainment ownership group in 1996, the Holts instituted a core structure of Values Based Leadership, establishing a foundation of integrity, success and caring.
The success portion has been evident. Under coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford, the Spurs have won five NBA championships and have reached the playoffs for 19 straight seasons.
“The Holt family has been the strength of our ownership group,” Buford said. “They’ve set a great tone for the culture of our organization, and as drivers of our Values Based Leadership, it has had a great alignment for Pop’s vision of our team.”
SS&E has grown to include four more franchises, the Stars (WNBA), Rampage (AHL Hockey), Austin Spurs (NBA D-League) and San Antonio FC (USL Soccer).
Under the leadership of the Holt family, the nonprofit partner of SS&E, Silver & Black Give Back, has thrived through serving San Antonio with local youth programs such as the Team Up Challenge and Spurs Youth Basketball league.
And in 2002, AT&T Center opened as the home of the Spurs, Stars and Rampage.
“Julianna’s leadership always has set high standards for our organization,” said Rick Pych, SS&E’s president of business operations. “The AT&T Center is very much her vision of an arena for South Texas. She’s always had a tremendous commitment to this community, and we all have followed her lead in our work with everyone in the Spurs family.”
Julianna has become the matriarch of the Holt and Hawn family businesses, remaining involved in American Bank and Hawn Brothers Production, along with HOLT CAT, Hewit & Dougherty, Hawn Holt Interests, Hawn Holt Cross Triangle Ranch, Prade Ranch. Ranching, which became Julianna’s passion after she graduated from Texas Tech University, has always been a part of her life through breeding quarterhorses and cattle.
Holt also has a love of the arts, which can be seen through her personal stamp on the pieces curated for the AT&T Center. The Holts have long been major contributors to museum and performing arts centers in San Antonio and throughout the nation.
While Julianna has chosen to stay largely behind the scenes as a partner in Hawn Holt Sports, she said she’s excited to take on a more active role as SS&E Chairman.
As the playoffs near and San Antonio turns Silver and Black for another spring, Julianna said one of her favorite things about being a SS&E owner has been the way the city has responded to her team and her family.
It’s a civic pride that has continued to grow since Peter and Julianna joined the organization.
“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved over the last two decades,” said Peter Holt. “The championships are wonderful, bringing new sports franchises to San Antonio is important but the biggest accomplishment for me will always be the impact we’ve had in our community. The pride, support and love that our city has for the Spurs is truly amazing.”
Twenty years ago, Peter Holt and Julianna Hawn Holt joined Spurs Sports & Entertainment, establishing values of integrity, success and caring.
Five franchises and five championships later, Julianna said she’s thrilled for the challenge to carry on those values and work with the 300 full-time and 1,000 part-time employees of SS&E.
“The leadership that Peter has provided to our team and to our organization will always be recognized as a model of sports ownership,” Buford said. “The success that we’ve had can be directly linked to Peter and Julianna. These championships, the AT&T Center, our organization wouldn’t be what it is today without Peter, and we look forward to continued success under the leadership of Julianna.”