Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, a native of Palito Blanco, a South Texas farming community, won her House primaries in heavily Democratic and Latino districts.
The eighth of 10 children, Senator Garcia saw her parents struggle to raise her and her siblings. Senator Garcia’s parents taught her that with hard work and a good education she could accomplish anything.
As a result of these lessons, Senator Garcia dedicated herself to success at school. She earned a scholarship to Texas Woman’s University in Denton, where she graduated with a degree in social work and political science. Senator Garcia then received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, working several jobs to pay for her tuition.
Senator Garcia has dedicated her life to her community and to public service. As a social worker and legal aid lawyer early in her professional career, she protected the community’s most vulnerable, old and young, and ensured no one was forgotten.
Senator Garcia continued her public service career by serving as Director and Presiding Judge of the Houston Municipal System for an unprecedented five terms under two mayors. In 1998, she was elected City Controller, the second highest elected official in Houston city government and its chief financial officer.
After two terms as Controller, Senator Garcia was elected to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court.
Senator Garcia was sworn in to the Texas State Senate on March 11, 2013, representing Senate District 6. She became the seventh woman and the third Hispanic woman to serve in the upper chambers after winning a special runoff election for the seat of the late Senator Mario Gallegos.
Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez resigned her position as sheriff and declared her candidacy for Governor of Texas in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
In 2004, Valdez shook the political establishment in Dallas County, becoming one of the first Democrats elected countywide in many years.
She was elected to four terms as Sheriff of Dallas County and served from 2005-2017.
She was the only Latina Sheriff in the United States and one of very few LGBTQ Americans serving in public office.
Prior to becoming Sheriff, she worked to protect the lives and property of American citizens at home and abroad as a captain in the U.S. Army and as a federal agent. The daughter of migrant farmworkers and the youngest child in a family of 10, Valdez put herself through college to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University, sometimes working two jobs to pay for her education.
Later, while working as a federal agent, she completed her Master’s in Criminology from UT-Arlington. As a federal agent and sometimes undercover, she investigated fraud and abuse in the United States and money laundering from criminal organizations in South America.
Helena Yordan, Program Director of PS/MS 279, joined the Committee for the Hispanic Children and Families in 2000, managing the after-school program at Bronx PS/MS 279 and overseeing 11 staff members.
For nearly two decades, Yordan has encouraged the youth participants to look out into the world beyond their neighborhoods, using innovative strategies and curriculum to introduce her students to global cultures while still engaging in them their local communities.
She has integrated the after-school program with the regular school day, incorporating a variety of educational enrichment activities in STEM, visual and performing arts, leadership development, community service, and physical activities.
One of the hallmarks of her vision for after-school is the active participation of parents in their children’s education, and she has worked tirelessly to build strong relationships with the parents.
Yordan graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, with a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies and Psychology. She also studied art, one of her passions that inspires her to be an educator that “transforms the classroom into a celebration”.