Hispanic Issues Section Awards and Recipients

The Hispanic Issues Section gives out three named awards each year at the Annual Meeting of the State Bar of Texas, along with several other awards.

The Reynaldo G. Garza Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an attorney or judge who is a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas who has demonstrated a long commitment and made great achievement in addressing concerns and issues affecting the Hispanic community and to the Hispanic Bar in Texas and has worked toward advancing diversity and access to justice in the practice of law.  The award is named after the Honorable Reynaldo G. Garza, who became the United States’ first Mexican-American federal judge when he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the United States District Court for the Southern District Court of Texas in 1961.  Judge Garza was later nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 1979, and served on that court until his death in 2004.  Additional information about Judge Garza may be found here and here.


1983: Matt Garcia
1985: Carlos Cadena
1986: Raul A. Gonzalez
1989: Filemon Vela
1990: Adelfa B. Callejo
1991: Frank Herrera
1994: Frumencio Reyes
1995: Jim Coronado
1999: William F. “Bill” Callejo
2003: Felix Salazar
2004: Simon Y. Rodriguez
2005: Frank P. Hernandez
2006: Judge James DeAnda
2007: Jose Rodriguez
2008: Vidal G. Martinez
2009: Adelfa B. Callejo
2010: Trey Martinez Fischer
2011: Maria Salas-Mendoza
2012: Berta A. Mejia
2013: Rosa G. Orenstein
2014: Justice Raul A. Gonzalez, Jr.
2015: Gloria Leal
2016: George B. Hernández, Jr.
2017: Judge Orlando Luis Garcia
2018: Esther Chavez
2019: Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa
2020: Roy R. Barrera, Sr.

2021: Justice Leticia Hinojosa
2022: Benny Agosto
2023: Judge Gina M. Benavides

The Pete Torres, Jr. Community Service Award is given to an individual or organization who has demonstrated a history of service and commitment to the Hispanic community.  The award is named after Peter Torres, Jr., the first Chair of the Hispanic Issues Section (when it was still known as “Concerns of the Spanish Speaking Community”).  Mr. Torres practiced law for over 40 years, and was a former city councilman of San Antonio.  He received a variety of awards honoring his long service to San Antonio as well as to the overall Hispanic community in Texas, including the MABA-TX Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hispanic Issues Section Reynaldo G. Garza Lifetime Achievement Award, and the St. Mary’s Law Alumni Association Henry B. Gonzalez Award.  Please click here to see a retrospective on the life and accomplishments of Mr. Torres.


2003: Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program
2004: Center for Legal and Social Justice, St. Mary’s University School of Law
2005: Irma Lerma Rangel, Young Women’s Leadership School of Dallas
2006: Political Asylum Project of Austin (American Gateways)
2009: William A. Brewer III, Dallas
2010: Mary Helen Berlanga, Corpus Christi
2011: Betty Balli Torres, Austin
2012: Jim Harrington, Texas Civil Rights Project
2013: Benny Agosto Jr., Houston
2014: Maria A. Berriozabal
2015: Richard Loza, San Antonio
2016: Frank Herrera, Jr., San Antonio
2017: Marisa Bono, San Antonio
2018: No Recipient
2019: Juan F. Vasquez, David Medina and David Calvillo
2020: Jose Angel Gutierrez and Chris Luna
2021: LULAC Council 650, San Antonio
2022: Judge Lupe Salinas
2023: Cassandra Garcia Hernandez

The James W. Wray, Jr. Founder’s Award is given to recognize exceptional achievements on behalf of the Hispanic legal community.  The award was named after its first honoree, Mr. James W. Wray, Jr. of Corpus Christi.  Mr. Wray’s incredible effect on the Hispanic legal community in Texas cannot be measured. He helped to create, along with the work of several others and facing what has been described as vitriolic opposition, the predecessor to the current Hispanic Issues Section.


2013 (Inaugural): James W. Wray, Jr.
2014: Judge J. Manuel Bañales
2015: Nina Perales, MALDEF
2016: Judge Debra Ibarra Mayfield
2018: Angelica Hernandez
2019: Eduardo Rodriguez
2020: Renato Santos, Jr.
2021: Judge Leslie Briones
2022: Frumencio Reyes, Jr.
2023: Deborah Lee Cordova

The Hispanic Issues Section also gives out several other awards at Annual Meeting.

2014MABA-San Antonio Justice Gina BenavidesState Rep. Justin RodriguezBetty Balli Torres and Tracy NuckolsAward first given in 2019
2015Dallas Hispanic Bar AssociationJustice Patricia O. AlvarezCongressman Filemon VelaAngelica HernandezAward first given in 2019
2016Hispanic Bar Association of HoustonJustice Dori C. GarzaState Rep. Mary GonzalezJoe Escobedo, Jr.Award first given in 2019
2017Dallas Hispanic Law FoundationJudge Elsa Alcala SpjutState Rep. Roberto AlonzoManuel EscobarAward first given in 2019
2018Mexican American Bar Association of HoustonJustice Luz Elena ChapaState Sen. Judith ZaffariniArturo AvilesAward first given in 2019
2019Hispanic Bar Association of AustinJudge Orlinda NaranjoState Rep. Victoria Neave CriadoGloria LealJustice Nathan Hecht
2020No RecipientJustice Gisela D. TrianaCongresswoman Sylvia GarciaJustice Gina M. BenavidesEl Paso Bar Association
2021Hispanic Bar Association of HoustonJudge Rebeca Martinez and Judge Ron RangelState Rep. Rafael AnchiaCarlos Soltero and Chris PiñedaBetty Balli Torres
2022Mexican American Bar Association of HoustonJudge Irma Carrillo RamirezState Rep. Ana Hernandez
2023Mexican American Bar Association of DallasJudge Victor VillarrealState Rep. Victoria Neave CriadoErica Benites Giese

Updated April 10, 2024