Today is International Women's Day. There is no better day to write this blog. Yesterday I spent some time interviewing one of the founders of our CBWLA organization in preparation for tomorrow's zoom luncheon revisiting the formation of our organization. The Honorable Hilda Tagle was not only a founding member but she was also the first President of our organization. Currently a senior United State District Court Judge, Hilda Tagle has long been a woman that I looked up to and someone who's wisdom and guidance I have sought on more than one occasion.
Hilda Tagle grew up in Robstown, Texas in poverty. She was the oldest of five and only girl in the family. There are several interviews of Hilda Tagle that are available online for those interested in her life story. I don't have the time to go into detail but I encourage you to listen to them. Hilda eventually graduated from University of Texas Law School in 1977 and returned to Corpus Christi afterwards to care for her ailing mother. She spent the first two decades of her career shattering glass ceilings. She was appointed to her first judicial position as County Court at Law Judge where she became the first Hispanic female Judge in Nueces County and only the second in the state. In 1994 she was elected Judge of the 148th District Court where she became the first Hispanic female District Court Judge in Nueces County. Then she was appointed by President Clinton to the federal bench where she was confirmed in 1998. That confirmation made her the first Hispanic female United States District Court Judge in Texas. It is not apparent that she was cognizant at the time of her glass shattering status. She was just busy expanding her sense of actual possibilities.
Having been born and raised in Corpus Christi I remember Judge Tagle's accomplishments at a time when I didn't know my own possibilities. I was in high school when Judge Tagle began her ascent up the bench. I went to Del Mar College the same way that Judge Tagle had in her early advanced schooling. I found myself interested in her life story because it mimicked mine in some ways. By the time I decided to study to become a paralegal and obtained my first job, Judge Tagle was well into her judicial career. I got to see someone who looked like me and someone who wasn't born into a life destined for greatness but, rather, someone who carved out greatness with each moment of expanding confidence. She inspired me. When I finally became an attorney Judge Tagle was already on the federal bench. Several years later I joined the CBWLA board of directors and it was at that time that I started to learn more about the work of Judge Tagle with regard to this organization. I realized that in the midst of her professional rise is when she (along with others) undertook the creation of a women's bar association called the Coastal Bend Women Lawyer's Association.
I am now into my second term as President of this organization. I previously served as President back in 2017. I was lucky enough to have a good friend who was also good friends with Judge Tagle and it was that connection that allowed me to meet Judge Tagle and get to know her more. She has always been gracious with advice and good counsel. I consider her a friend, a mentor and someone who helped me expand my sense of actual possibilities and for that I must say to her, thank you.
As I mentioned at the start of this blog, I had just came away from interviewing Judge Tagle for a Zoom luncheon we have on March 9th. As I prepared to share a post for International Women's Day I came across the quote above and it brought me back to what Judge Tagle has done for me and I felt compelled to write this blog. There have been many Judge Tagle's throughout my career and life. Another honorable mention is retired Associate Judge Ida Brazell whose friendship and mentorship has made me a better attorney. Attorney Jeanette Cantu-Bazar who was the first attorney who guided me and answered any questions I had when I first became a solo practitioner. Attorney Lisa Greenberg whose passion and excellence in criminal law continues to inspire me in my criminal practice. There are so many more. I think it's important to let other women know how they have impacted you. So to each of you I say thank you. Let's never forget that empowered women empower women.
-- Deborah Rios, CBWLA President