Texas magazines honor Zaffirini with “10 Best” & “Lord’s Work” Awards

(AUSTIN) — Texas Monthly named Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, one of Texas’ “10 Best Legislators” this week, and the Texas Observer honored her with the “People’s Friend: Lord’s Work Award.”

“I appreciate these awards and share them with all who partnered in our success,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Each award reflects continual and effective collaboration with Senate colleagues; my hard-working staff; and many advocates, constituents, volunteers and leaders.”

This is the fourth time that Texas Monthly includes Senator Zaffirini on its “10 Best” list. It also included her in 2005, 2001 and 1997; gave her the “Bull of the Brazos” award in 2009 and an “Honorable Mention” in 2003.

The article describes Senator Zaffirini as the “key player” on the Medicaid panel and cites her “encyclopedic knowledge of the health and human services budget” and her ability to persuade her colleagues.

The only woman and one of only three Democrats named to the 2011 list, Zaffirini also was recognized for her effectiveness in impacting higher education policy in the Republican-dominated legislature: “All session long she waged a two-front war against two of the most powerful men in the Capitol—Rick Perry and Steve Ogden—and somehow managed to remain standing.”

Senator Zaffirini also was among 10 legislators honored by the Texas Observer as “People’s Friends.” She was singled out for the “Lord’s Work Award” because of her advocacy on behalf of the very old, the very young and persons with disabilities. “During debates, she wields facts like knives,” the article notes. “Few lawmakers in the Capitol fight for vulnerable Texans with Zaffirini’s skill and tenacity.”

The Observer praised Senator Zaffirini’s work on the Senate Finance Committee, where she championed minimizing the impact of harmful budget cuts on Texas families.

“Zaffirini ended up voting against the budget, and who can blame her?”, asked the Observer. “We know that–had it not been for her work–those cuts likely would have been far deeper.”

The senator has won more than 650 awards for her professional and public service work. Second in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, she is Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee; Co-Chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency; and a member of the Senate Finance, Administration, Economic Development, Health and Human Services and Redistricting committees. She also serves on the Legislative Budget Board.

“Because of the severe budget shortfall, the 82nd Texas Legislative Session was the most challenging session in memory,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Nevertheless, we built a strong foundation from which we can expect to accomplish even more, particularly for those whose causes we champion.”

Written by Senior Executive Editor Paul Burka and Senior Editor Nate Blakeslee, “The Best & Worst Legislators” article can be read via http://www.texasmonthly.com/2011-07-01/feature.php. The Texas Observer‘s legislative coverage is available online via http://www.texasobserver.org/floor-pass.

High-Achieving Students Awarded Mr. South Texas Scholarships by Senator Judith Zaffirini

(LAREDO) — Eleven students from Laredo high schools, Laredo Community College and Texas A&M International University were honored with $1,000 scholarships by the Mr. South Texas Foundation (MSTF) on Wednesday (June 15).

“These outstanding students are the future leaders of our region, and I am delighted to recognize them,” said Senator Judith Zaffirini, MSTF president. “They have not only excelled in academics and extracurricular activities, but also demonstrated commitment to community service and dedication to family.”

When the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association honored her as Mr. South Texas in 1999, Senator Zaffirini made a commitment to help future generations of leaders in the region. Accordingly, she established the MSTF and raised the money for the annual scholarships.

Wednesday’s presentation ceremony was hosted by Dr. Ray Keck, President, and Dr. Minita Ramirez, Dean of Student Success, at A&M International. Each honoree was selected as his or her class’s most likely future Mr. South Texas honoree.

“The Mr. South Texas Foundation’s mission is to aid students in their transition From Scholarship to Leadership,” Senator Zaffirini said. “It is my belief that the young men and women selected for the scholarship understand their responsibility to return to South Texas to improve the quality of life for their fellow citizens.”

The 2011 Mr. South Texas Foundation scholarship recipients are:

  • Eugene Yi, Alexander High School
  • Rogelio Gonzalez, Cigarroa High School
  • Enrique Ramirez, LBJ High School
  • Fernando Medina, Martin High School
  • Juan Garcia, Nixon High School
  • Samantha Guarneros, St. Augustine High School
  • George Tom Yang, United High School
  • Carlos Hernandez, United South High School
  • Jesus Gonzalo Martinez, Laredo Early College High School
  • Alexandra Adriana Delgado, Laredo Community College
  • Marco Antonio Dimas, Texas A&M International University.

Celebrating its 12th anniversary in 2011, the foundation has provided $107,000 in scholarships to Laredo students.

“Helping young persons achieve their higher education goals is one of the best ways we can impact the future of our city positively,” Senator Zaffirini said. “It is my hope that all Laredoans will join me in congratulating these students and in opening doors for future generations of youth.”

For additional information regarding the Mr. South Texas Foundation, please contact Teresa Carrales at 956/722-2293.