In an upset election, she became the first woman and the first Latina elected as the county judge for Harris County, the third-most populous county in the country, and the largest in Texas. Her name is Lina Hidalgo, and I am personally excited to announce that she will receive the 2019 Warren Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership at Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development® (GILD) this September.
This award was established by the Linkage team in 1999 to honor Professor Warren Bennis’s legacy. It recognizes leaders who demonstrate courage, endurance, capability and success in their fields and are an inspiration for current and aspiring leaders.
Bennis, known fondly as the “Dean of Leadership Gurus,” cofounded Linkage’s GILD 23 years ago. He was an exemplary leader who practiced, studied, wrote about, and taught leadership for decades. Each year, a committee reviews nominations and selects an award winner who exemplifies what it means to be a purposeful leader. Ms. Hidalgo is incredibly deserving of this recognition.
She was born in Columbia during the height of the drug war, and in 2005 her family fled to the United States where their main goal was to ensure that she was safe and that she had access to a good education. Ms. Hidalgo went on to become the first member of her family to attend college, and graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science the same year she became a U.S. citizen.
Upon graduating, she moved to Thailand where she worked for the Internews Network, an international non-profit dedicated to training journalists and advocating for freedom of the press. She has also dedicated hundreds of hours volunteering in Harris County, from her time at the Texas Civil Rights Project, to serving as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center helping immigrants in search of lost loved ones.
She went on to pursue the Master’s/Juris Doctor Joint Program in law and public policy at Harvard University and New York University, but the divisiveness she saw during the 2016 election inspired her to put her degree on hold and run for public office. She ran for County Judge of Harris County in the 2018 election as an outsider candidate, and went on to beat the 11-year Republican incumbent. Since being elected, she has sought to make the county government more transparent and accessible for residents. She has also recently been named the county’s new Director of Emergency Management, which makes her responsible for guiding the region through floods and superstorms, such as Hurricane Harvey.
Ms. Hidalgo is a remarkable leader who is not afraid to take on new challenges, and truly encapsulates what it means to live and lead purposefully. I hope that you’ll consider joining us this year at GILD from September 16–19 in Palm Desert, CA as we honor her.