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Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
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Judith Zaffirini

Occupation: Communications Specialist; 13 years of teaching experience

Education: The University of Texas at Austin, B.S., M.A., Ph.D.; University of Houston; Laredo Junior College

Legislative Experience: Senate Member: 1987 - present

Hometown: Laredo

Party: Democrat

Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) represents the 21st Senatorial District, which stretches from the Rio Grande to the Colorado River and the Valley. Re-elected in 2022 in an eleventh landslide victory, she is the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas Senate, the second highest-ranking senator, and the highest-ranking woman and Hispanic senator.

Her appointments provide countless opportunities to champion the priorities of SD 21, the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, which has generated billions of dollars in economic activity for our state. As Senate Chair of the Eagle Ford Shale Legislative Caucus, Senator Zaffirini prioritizes the district’s continued prosperity, and as Vice Chair of the Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee and member of the Energy Council since 2009, she promotes responsible and sustainable development of Texas' energy resources. She also helps protect and conserve the district’s air, land, and water resources such as the Rio Grande, the Edwards Aquifer, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Through the State Affairs Committee, she addresses issues such as bond issuances and eminent domain, and as a member of the Judicial Council and the Texas Access to Justice Commission, she champions preventing cronyism and corruption in the legal system, promoting access to justice, and protecting persons under guardianship. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, she ensures our state budget is balanced and fair, and as a member of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, she prioritizes issues of importance to local businesses in the 16 counties of SD 21. Health care is a major industry in the district, and as an expert in the health and human services policy and funding, Senator Zaffirini advocates for improved health services, especially for the very young, the very old, the very poor, veterans, and persons with disabilities. As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting, she develops plans allowing Texans to have a say in who represents them in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives.

Her legendary work ethic is reflected in her 100 percent voting record, having cast 72,028 consecutive votes, and her perfect attendance in the Texas Senate since 1987, except for breaking quorum deliberately to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised voters in SD 21. She has sponsored and passed 1,388 bills and 38 substantive resolutions. Showing her bipartisan effectiveness, in the 2023 Republican-dominated Texas Legislature she passed 122 bills, passing more bills than any other legislator for the fifth consecutive legislative session. What's more, she has passed more bills than any other legislator in the history of the State of Texas.

Senator Zaffirini has received more than 1,200 awards and honors for her legislative, public service, and professional work, including more than 600 in communication. They include being inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame by Governor Greg Abbott in 2019; named to the "All Decades Teams" for the 2000s and the 1990s and 10 Best of the 2021 Legislature by Capitol Inside and a Hero of Hope by the Laredo Morning Times; honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from LULAC Council 12 for her illustrious career as an Hispanic leader; and receiving the Mary Holdsworth Butt Award from Mental Health America of Texas and the Pinnacle of Achievement Award from the Center for Health Care Services for her legendary leadership for persons with emotional, physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. The Laredo-Webb County Bar Association honored her with the 2022 Liberty Bell award, which is bestowed upon the non-lawyer who made the greatest impact on the law by promoting better understanding of the rule of law, encouraging greater respect for law and the courts, stimulating a sense of civil responsibility, or contributing to good government in the community. In 2021 she was named the Texas Press Association's Champion of Transparency, the State Bar of Texas Judicial Section's Friend of the Judiciary, and the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities' Legislative Champion. The Hispanic Sports Foundation for Education inducted her into the National Hispanic Heritage Hall of Honor, and the Texas Nurses Association named her its 2019 Legislative Champion for her legislation promoting public health. She received the "People's Friend: Lord's Work Award" from the Texas Observer, and The University of Texas at Austin named her a Distinguished Alumna in 2003; an Outstanding Alumna of the Moody College of Communication in 2016; awarded her the Presidential Citation in 2013; and inducted her into the UT Daily Texan’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Texas Monthly has named Senator Zaffirini one of Texas' "10 Best Legislators" four times and given her the "Bull of the Brazos" award and an "Honorable Mention." She also received the Legislative Hero Award from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Godmother of Texas Children Award from Teaching and Mentoring Communities and was named a Legislative Champion by Texas oil and gas leaders. Interestingly, she was named Sister Judith, an Honorary Nun, by the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Ministries and Mr. South Texas by the Washington's Birthday Celebration Association.

The senator is the namesake of Laredo Community College's Senator Judith Zaffirini Library and Texas A&M International University's Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, as well as of the Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School in Laredo and the AAMA Judith Zaffirini Residential Center in Edinburg. Her son, Carlos Jr., honored her as the namesake of endowed scholarships at The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas A&M International University; two grant programs, one to help teachers pay their college student loan debts and another to support good works; and a patient suite at the UT Dell Seton Medical Center. He also established the Carlos Sr. and Senator Judith Zaffirini Access to Justice Initiative, which pays for bar review courses and exam fees for low-income UT law graduates who pledge to represent low-income clients. What’s more, the Beaumont Foundation endowed a scholarship honoring Senator Zaffirini and her husband at A&M International, where the annual Senator Judith Zaffirini Medal is presented to faculty and students who excel in scholarship and leadership. The senator is featured in 25 books and referenced in 19.

Dr. Zaffirini is an award-winning communication specialist with 13 years of teaching experience, including at the college and university levels. The South Texas Press Association honored her for her distinguished career in journalism and public service. Press Women of Texas (PWT) and the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW) have recognized her communication expertise repeatedly with awards for her publications, speeches, and public relations campaigns. PWT twice named her its Communicator of Achievement, NFPW named her its Sweepstakes Award Winner in 2021 and 2023, and Junior Achievement of Laredo named her a laureate of its Business Hall of Fame.

Through her business, Zaffirini Communications, she provides professional communication services, including consulting, workshops and seminars, keynote addresses, and writing. She also is president of the Mr. South Texas Foundation and of the D&J Alexander Foundation and of its two subsidiaries, D&J Alexander Investments and D&J Alexander Development.

A distinguished communicator, educator, businessperson, and leader, she holds B.S., M.A., and PhD degrees from UT-Austin, each with a 3.9 grade-point average.

A member of the Texas Philosophical Society and of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, her professional memberships include the Texas Press Women, International Communication Association, Texas Speech Communication Association, American Institute of Parliamentarians and Association for Borderlands Studies. Judith and Carlos Zaffirini have been married for 56 years. Their son, Carlos Jr., an attorney and businessman, and Audrey welcomed their first son, Asher Maxwell, in 2017 and their second, George William, in 2019!

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Office Information

Capitol Address District Address
The Honorable Judith Zaffirini
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711

(512) 463-0121 (TEL)
1407 Washington Street
Laredo, TX 78040

(956) 722-2293 (TEL)
(956) 722-8586 (FAX)