By Renee Watson
Commissioners Court recognized March 26, 2019 as “Bexar County Women’s Day” to commemorate Women’s History Month, supporting the National theme of “Honoring Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence” in support of the Bexar County Small Business and Entrepreneurship Department’s efforts to accelerate women and LGBT business ownership.
The Court also presented the 2019 Bexar County Pioneer Award to Bexar County Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez, Court at Law No. 13.
Bexar County’s Women’s History Month celebration presents special opportunities to honor women who strive toward the highest levels of professionalism, exemplify leadership, are visionaries in their field, serve their community, deliver exceptional customer service, are pioneers of innovation, advocates for women’s business, and model employers.
When women began mobilizing the lobbying effort that resulted in President Jimmy Carter issuing a Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as the first National Women’s History Week, they had no idea what the future would bring. And then, in 1987, another of their successful lobbying efforts resulted in Congress expanding the week into a month, and March is now National Women’s History.
This year we honor women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society. These Honorees embraced the fact that the means determine the ends and so developed nonviolent methods to ensure just and peaceful results. For generations, women have resolved conflicts in their homes, schools, and communities. They have rejected violence as counterproductive and stressed the need to restore respect, establish justice, and reduce the causes of conflict as the surest way to peace. From legal defense and public education to direct action and civil disobedience, women have expanded the American tradition of using inclusive, democratic and active means to reduce violence, achieve peace, and promote the common good.
From women’s rights and racial justice to disarmament and gun control, the drive for nonviolent change has been championed by visionary women. These women consciously built supportive, nonviolent alternatives and loving communities as well as advocating change. They have given voice to the unrepresented and hope to victims of violence and those who dream of a peaceful world.
The 2019 Bexar County Pioneer Award Recipient
Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez was born in Brownsville, Texas to a mother and father who instilled in her a love for both her culture and country. Her mother, Alicia Gonzalez, who recently passed away taught Rosie the importance of service to her community and the value of people in her life. After her father took ill, Rosie left her job as a Probation Officer in Austin, Texas to pursue her law degree at St. Mary’s University. Her mother requested that she pursue her education so they could access healthcare and resources for her father. (He died during her second year of law school.)
Rosie graduated from St. Mary’s University with her law degree in 2001. She practiced law for 16 years, becoming the only lawyer in South Texas to be certified as a Child Welfare Specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children in her law career, she represented hundreds of children who reside in foster care or the CPS system. She mentored several new attorneys, who went on to develop successful law careers.
Rosie had a solo practice, where she committed to hard work and service to her clients. Rosie loves the law. During this time, she also serves as one of Commissioner Kevin Wolff’s appointee to the Bexar County Small, Minority and Women Business Enterprise (SMWBE) Advisory Committee where she made significant contributions to ensuring that LGBT firms are now included in the county’s contracting policies and procedures.
Rosie took the bench this year as the presiding judge of Bexar County Court at Law No. 13. Her top three initiatives are as follows: 1) to create a drug court/ domestic violence specialty program that addresses the core issues that bring offenders into the courtroom; 2) to create a live feed into the courtroom which would allow victims to view the hearing without having to be physically present; and 3) to collaborate with UTSA’s Counseling Department to set up a therapeutic support for the victims of domestic violence. Rosie recognizes the lack of resources in the community of San Antonio for our most vulnerable citizens.
Further, she is aware that the most dangerous places in our city can exist in the home. She has dedicated her time on the bench to addressing the needs for an ever-increasing problem in our city.