Bragging on Dennise (Again)

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I have yet another reason to brag about Dennise.

Tonight at SMU, Dennise will receive the SMU Women’s Symposium “Profiles in Leadership Award.” The Profiles in Leadership Award “recognizes Dallas women who exemplify the purpose of the Women’s Symposium, which is to educate women for social and political leadership.”

Judge Garcia is, as you have heard me mention before, the “presiding judge” of the Dallas County Family Courts and the first Hispanic woman elected to a county-wide state district court in Dallas history. Among the other honorees tonight are Rev. Jo Hudson from Cathedral of Hope, and Rev. Bubba Dailey from Austin Street Centre for the homeless.

It’s been a pleasure for me to be a colleague to both of them for many years now. I have known Bubba for almost 20 years, and remember fondly many nights when I’d take church groups to the shelter and Bubba and I would “catch up” in between the craziness of serving the clients there. Jo serves a church with many similar social and theological values to ours, and it’s been a pleasure visiting with her from time to time about our common dreams and visions for ministry.

Along with Anne Marie Weiss-Armush –founder and chair of the Board of Directors of DFW International– and Stacy Eppers –who has significant experience in mentoring young women through her work with Community Partners of Dallas– this is quite a dynamic group of women, and I know Dennise is truly honored to be among them.

What’s really fun about Dennise getting this award is that the symposium is an event she was involved in as a student. I recall how, during that first year we met, she worked as a student organizer and participant in the symposium. (In fact, I think the Daily Campus even ran a story about her involvement in the symposium…) So, I can remember how honored she was to be among such women of achievement even back then. And I can specifically remember how honored she was to be among women who broke ground, broke stereotypes, and pushed the boundaries of what women can achieve.

Now, years later, she’s one of those women of achievement, breaking ground through her election and service to the courts. And like her election itself –and rise to presiding judge– I know she’s both amazed and humbled at the same time.

She couldn’t be more grateful. And you’ve got to know I couldn’t be prouder.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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