AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott announced that Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, will be inducted into the 2018 Texas Women's Hall of Fame, along with former First Lady Laura Bush and five other groundbreaking honorees.

Under the oversight of the governor’s office, the Governor's Commission for Women created the Hall of Fame in 1984 to celebrate the remarkable achievements of Texas women. Other inductees are Olympic gymnast Simone Biles; singer Vikki Carr; philanthropist Susan Dell; former fighter pilot and commercial airline captain, Tammie Jo Shults; and former president of Our Lady of the Lake University, Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss.

They will be honored in a January ceremony hosted by Governor Abbott and First Lady Cecilia Abbott at the Governor's Mansion.

“The Texas Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates remarkable Texas women not only for their individual achievements, but also for their contributions to the strength of the Lone Star State, and I am honored to welcome these seven accomplished women as this year’s inductees,” Governor Abbott said. “Each of the honorees is recognized as a trailblazer, an inspiration for the next generation of leaders who will follow in their footsteps in fields such as business, education, military service, philanthropy, public service, sports, the arts and sciences, and more. The First Lady and I would like to thank each of these distinguished honorees and their families for their enduring contributions to this great state.”

Every other year, Texans submit nominations, and an independent panel of judges selects honorees who exemplify excellence across a variety of fields, including business, science, education, public service and the arts. Housed in the Blagg-Huey Library at Texas Woman's University, the Hall of Fame's permanent exhibit memorializes the contributions of Texas women and inspires future generations of female leaders.

"I am grateful to Governor Abbott and the Governor's Commission for Women for this deeply meaningful recognition," said Senator Zaffirini, the second highest-ranking state senator and the highest-ranking woman and Hispanic state senator. "As the first Mexican American woman in the Texas Senate, I know the challenges women can face in public service. These difficulties are not insurmountable, however, as I hope my career demonstrates to any Texan who wants to be a leader in her community but has hesitated to run for office."

Senator Zaffirini’s legislative accomplishments include reforming guardianship, Medicaid, nursing homes and welfare; improving access to justice, court security, organ donor programs and services for Texans with disabilities and mental illnesses; and strengthening drunk driving and public safety laws, including prohibiting texting-while-driving.

A passionate champion of higher education, she prioritizes academic excellence and focuses on improving accessibility, affordability, accountability and cost-efficiency while enhancing equal opportunities for success.

Senator Zaffirini has received more than 1,000 awards for her legislative, public service and professional accomplishments, including more than 320 in communication. She was named Mr. South Texas by the Washington Birthday Celebration Association; made an Honorary Nun, Sister Judith, by the Sisters of Mercy; and inducted into the National Hispanic Heritage Hall of Honor by the Hispanic Sports Foundation for Education.

A wife, mother and (recent) grandmother, Senator Zaffirini holds B.S., M.A. and PhD degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, which named her a Distinguished Alumna. She is the owner of Zaffirini Communications and president of Alexander Investments and Alexander Development. She also is the namesake of an elementary school, university building, college library, road and rehabilitation center. Her son, Carlos Jr., has endowed scholarships and grants in her name at UT-Austin, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Texas A&M International in Laredo.