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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, the first Mexican American woman elected to the Texas Senate, became the first woman Dean of the Senate on Dec. 31, 2023. She succeeds 24 men who held the title since 1909, when it was first assigned to the longest-serving senator. One of only 24 women who have served with 952 male senators in 88 Texas Legislatures, in 1986 she and Eddie Bernice Johnson became the 7th and 8th women state senators in Texas. They joined Cyndi Krier in 1987, marking the first time more than one woman served in the 31-member body.

Dean Zaffirini’s legendary work ethic is reflected in her having cast 72,132 consecutive votes since 1987 and passing 1,388 bills, making her the highest bill-passer in the history of the State of Texas. Showing her bipartisan effectiveness, in the 2023 Republican-dominated Texas Legislature she passed 122 bills, making her the highest bill-passing legislator for five consecutive sessions.

Senator Zaffirini is Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development and a member of the Senate Committees on Business and Commerce, Finance, State Affairs, and Redistricting; and the Texas Judicial Council and Texas Access to Justice Commission.

An award-winning Communication Specialist and former educator who supported herself since she was 17 and married her high school sweetheart at 18, she holds B.S., M.A., and PhD degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, which has named her a Distinguished Alumna (2003) and Outstanding Alumna of the Moody College of Communication (2016), awarded her the Presidential Citation (2013), and inducted her into the UT Daily Texan’s Hall of Fame (2016).

The senator is the namesake of the courthouse in Webb County, a student success center and medal for leadership and scholarship at Texas A&M International University, a library at Laredo College, an elementary school at United ISD, a park in Laredo, and a road at Lake Casa Blanca International State Park. She is featured in 25 books and referenced in 22.

Senator Zaffirini has received more than 1,200 awards and honors for her legislative, public service, and professional work, including more than 600 state and national awards in communication. Numerous organizations have honored her, particularly as a champion of education and health and human services and of persons with intellectual, emotional, physical and learning disabilities; enhancing access to justice while fighting corruption and cronyism in the judiciary; protecting the environment; and improving transparency and access to public information. Interestingly, the Sisters of Mercy named her an Honorary Nun, Sister Judith, and Washington’s Birthday Association named her Mr. South Texas.

Her son, Carlos Jr., honored her as the namesake of three endowed scholarships, two grant programs for teachers’ college student loan debts and for good works, a patient suite at the UT Dell Seton Medical Center, and a soccer mini-pitch in Laredo. He also established the Carlos Sr. and Senator Judith Zaffirini Access to Justice Initiative at the UT Law School. Relatedly, the Beaumont Foundation endowed a scholarship honoring the Zaffirinis at A&M International.

Re-elected in an 11th landslide victory in 2022, Senator Zaffirini represents 16 counties in Senate District 21, which stretches from Laredo, her hometown on the Texas-Mexico border; to Starr County in the Valley; Dimmit County in the Winter Garden; and Travis and Hays counties in Central Texas.

Dr. Zaffirini is the owner of Zaffirini Communications and president of the Mr. South Texas Foundation and of the D&J Alexander Foundation and its two entities, D&J Alexander Investments and D&J Alexander Development.

Married for 59 years, Carlos and Judith have one son, Carlos Jr., an attorney, businessman and philanthropist; a daughter-by-marriage, Audrey; and two grandsons, Asher (6) and George (4).

Special Events


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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)