Senator Zaffirini Receives Horizon Award from the Christian Life Commission

(AUSTIN) —Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, on Thursday (Feb. 16) received the Horizon Award from the Christian Life Commission, the policy agency of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, for her leadership in promoting access, affordability and excellence in higher education.

“As Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, I am delighted to accept this award and to champion higher education opportunities for all,” Zaffirini said. “It’s my pleasure to share Texas Baptists’ goals of increasing high school graduation rates and ensuring that Texas students are college ready.”

Senator Zaffirini accepted the award at the organization’s Hispanic Leadership and Advocacy Day, at which the leaders of a group of 1,200 Hispanic Baptist Churches in Texas discussed policy issues of particular importance to Hispanic Texans.

“We are honored to present Senator Zaffirini with the Horizon Award for her dedication to higher education in Texas,” said Suzii Paynter, the director of the Christian Life Commission. “Because of her efforts, including authoring bills that support the TEXAS Grant program and a single statewide financial aid deadline for Texas’ public four-year universities, deserving Texas students are able to excel in education.”

Joining Paynter in presenting the award were Jesse Rincones, president, Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas; Rolando Rodriguez, director, Texas Baptist Hispanic Ministries; and Gus Reyes, PhD, director, Texas Baptist Hispanic Education Initiative.

“Hispanics are the fastest-growing population group in our state,” Senator Zaffirini said. “By 2040, the number of Hispanic children enrolled in Texas public schools is expected to grow by more than 200 percent. Accordingly, the future of our state will depend increasingly on the success of its Hispanic students.”

More information about Senator Zaffirini’s education legislation can be obtained via her website,

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, (ABOVE) accepts the Horizon Award from Suzii Paynter, director of the Christian Life Commission, and Gus Reyes, PhD, director of the Texas Baptist Hispanic Education Initiative. Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Senator Zaffirini (BELOW) welcomes Hispanic Baptist leaders from across Texas to the Capitol.

Senator Zaffirini Announces Grant for College Disabilities Program

(AUSTIN) — Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, announced today (Feb. 16) that Texas A&M University will receive $225,000 for the first year of a five-year grant from the Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) to develop an inclusive postsecondary education program for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“As Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, I am delighted that persons with disabilities pursuing postsecondary education will benefit from this funding,” Zaffirini said. “Specifically, they will receive specialized support and services not usually offered at higher education institutions, including specialized assistive technology, communication and self-advocacy training.”

The new program will include rigorous academic courses and enrichment classes that will serve as a pathway to careers in human services. What’s more, it includes a full year of training and supervised, field-based experience leading to a certificate and job placement.

“This program is designed to help persons with disabilities pursue careers and live productive, fulfilling lives,” Senator Zaffirini said. “It is my hope that other higher education institutions will use the program as a model and look to its manual as a guide.”

TCDD is a 27-member board dedicated to improving the lives of more than 450,000 Texans with developmental disabilities. The Council provides a variety of activities, including grant projects, technical assistance, public awareness and leadership training, to enable people with disabilities to live, attend classes and work in the community.

More information on TCDD and its projects is available via or 800/262-0334.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, is Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Shown here with Regina Blye, Executive Director for the Texas State Independent Living Council (SILC), Senator Zaffirini champions legislation and funding that help persons with disabilities live healthy, productive lives.