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Honoring a Legacy of Servant Leadership

Kirk WatsonThe Texas Young Lawyers Association creates the “Kirk Watson Excellence in Leadership Award” that will be presented to a sitting TYLA director who has consistently exceeded expectations by taking initiative and inspiring others to work collaboratively, demonstrated transformative leadership skills that empower others to succeed, and promoted the goals and objectives of TYLA over his or her own interests or accolades.

For about 90 years, the Texas Young Lawyers Association has been led by a group of attorneys comprising the state’s top-ranked litigators, government lawyers, in-house counsel, and corporate attorneys. Each year, young lawyers from across the great state of Texas elect a single person to lead TYLA as president.

Thirty years ago, TYLA was led by an energetic, humble, and service-minded attorney from Austin: Kirk Watson. As Texas Sen. Watson winds up his tenure of public service as a Texas legislator and former mayor of Austin, we reflect on the lasting impact he’s had on TYLA.

Prior to assuming the role of TYLA president, Watson served TYLA as chair of the board in addition to serving on several TYLA committees including its Redistricting Committee (no longer in existence), its Moot Court Committee (now a subcommittee under the Competitions Committee), and the Public Relations Committee (now part of the Online Member Services Committee). He also served on the State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee, the Austin Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors, the board of directors of Austin Lawyers Care (now called Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas), and the Austin Women’s Health Center Advisory Board.

Alex Acosta, TYLA’s first Hispanic president (1987), shared his first impression of Watson after meeting him at TYLA’s New Director Orientation in 1984: “The first time I met Kirk, I could tell right away, almost immediately, that he was headed to do some very important things. He was selfless, courageous, and had a lot of compassion for people of all kinds. Of course, we became friends right away and still are friends to this day.”

TYLA Watson

Kirk Watson as a TYLA member

Even before Watson became president of TYLA, he had a vision to expand fairness, diversity, and inclusion within the legal system. Acosta, now a partner in Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado, Acosta in Austin, shared that it was through the leadership of Watson, along with Ken Raney (past TYLA president) and Richard Abernathy (past TYLA chair), that TYLA created at-large positions. These positions have continued to advance more diverse leadership in TYLA and the State Bar of Texas. “Creating the at-large positions became very controversial at the time. It took lots of courage for that group,” Acosta said.

Later, as TYLA president, Watson would create VoTexas. The project included a curriculum guide for high school students to better understand the importance of voting, development of the right to vote, and how to register to vote. The Texas Office of the Secretary of State would later implement a project tailored around VoTexas statewide that continues today.

Even after leaving TYLA, Watson never gave up his passion for serving young lawyers across Texas.

David Courreges, former TYLA secretary and president-elect candidate (2011), was mentored by Watson. Courreges said, “As a lost college student, he helped me realize there is more to the law than litigation and more to government than politics. He encouraged my desire for bar service and was there every single time that we asked (and there were a lot of asks).”

No matter whom you ask, past or present, Watson is the exemplification of the uncommon leader. He’s uniquely talented in gathering groups of diverse individuals, harnessing their unique perspectives and, together, creating innovative solutions to difficult issues.

Courreges said, “He develops constituencies that others could not see, or chose not to see. He gives his voice to those who have none and fights to preserve access to justice for all.”

Although Watson received many accolades over the course of his career, it’s not surprising that when given a chance to comment on his time with TYLA, he said, “TYLA played a tremendous role in my life. Importantly, it provided a great avenue for public service while also giving a base for serving the profession I loved so much and that gave me so much. In fact, TYLA created a pathway for service that extended past my time as a young lawyer and active participation in the bar.”

There’s a saying by the late Judge Damon Keith: “We are all walking on floors that we did not scrub. We are all walking through doors that we did not open. So wherever you go, scrub floors and open doors.” We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

This year TYLA has created a new award to honor Watson’s legacy of work and service to the organization. The “Kirk Watson Excellence in Leadership Award” will be presented to a sitting TYLA director who has consistently exceeded expectations by taking initiative and inspiring others to work collaboratively, demonstrated transformative leadership skills that empower others to succeed, and promoted the goals and objectives of Texas Young Lawyers Association over his or her own interests or accolades.

Additionally this year, TYLA we will be presenting Watson with the TYLA Legacy Award for his 30-year history of service to the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Sen. Watson, thank you. Thank you for all that you’ve done for TYLA, our legal profession, and the state of Texas. We salute your legacy of servant leadership and congratulate you on this next season as you lead the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Original author: Victor A. Flores
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DOD Spokesman Briefs on COVID-19 Ops, Bahrain Command, 5G Problems

Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, discussed COVID operations, Freedom of Navigation moves and more during a Pentagon news conference.
Original author: Jim Garamone
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Army Finalizing Plan to Resume Collective Training

The Army aims to soon resume collective training and hold a ceremony for graduating West Point cadets after the success of measures safeguarding new recruits at training centers.
Original author: Sean Kimmons, Army News Service
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Defense Logistics Agency Pivots to Support COVID-19 Response

The Defense Logistics Agency has ordered more than $920 million in lifesaving supplies and equipment to support the nation’s COVID-19 response so far.
Original author: Chris Erbe
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DOD Supports African Partner Nations in Multiple Ways

The Defense Department provides cooperative engagements with African nations and continues to promote peace, prosperity and stability in the region.
Original author: David Vergun
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Defense Officials Tout Progress in Fight Against Sexual Assault

The Defense Department is making progress in combating sexual assault and harassment in the military, DOD officials said upon releasing an annual report on the subject.
Original author: JIM GARAMONE
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U.S. Must Prepare for Current, Future Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the United States must bolster its medical-industrial base, the Defense Department's undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment said.
Original author: C. Todd Lopez
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Service Personnel Policies Help With Retention During Pandemic

Military services have adjusted personnel policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage existing service members to stay longer — and many are doing so.
Original author: C. Todd Lopez
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Polish Medical Team Shares COVID-19 Lessons Learned With Guard

The Illinois National Guard's partnership with Poland's armed forces is paying dividends in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original author: David Vergun
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Turkey Delivers COVID-19 Medical Supplies

A Turkish Airbus delivered medical supplies to the United States as a gesture of support from one NATO ally to another during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Original author: Air Force Staff Sgt. Cary Smith
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Marines, NYPD Officers Unite to Fight COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, New York City took a hard hit. In need of relief, the city turned to the United States military for support.
Original author: Marine Corps Sgt. Stormy Mendez
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Learning Continues for DOD School System Students Despite COVID-19 Restrictions

School is back in session for Department of Defense Education Activity students worldwide after a swift transition from brick-and-mortar to digital classrooms because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Original author: C. Todd Lopez
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Secretary Hughs Convenes Second Border Trade Advisory Committee Meeting Of 2020

"Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs yesterday via video conference convened the second Border Trade Advisory Committee (BTAC) meeting of 2020, bringing together stakeholders from throughout the Texas-Mexico border region to advance initiatives to address challenges related to international trade with Mexico."
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Texas Joins Electronic Registration Information Center

"The Office of the Secretary of State today announced that Texas will become the 30th state to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a non-profit consortium of member states."
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Secretary Hughs Announces “Ready. Check. Vote.” Voter Education Initiative

"Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs today announced a new statewide initiative, "Ready. Check. Vote.," to educate Texas voters about what they need to bring to the polls when they cast their ballot."
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Secretary Hughs Reminds Texans To Register And Prepare To Vote

"Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs today reminded Texans to make the necessary preparations to be able to cast their vote in the upcoming March 3rd primary election."
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Secretary Hughs Convenes First Border Trade Advisory Committee Meeting Of 2020

"Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs yesterday convened the first Border Trade Advisory Committee (BTAC) meeting of 2020, bringing together stakeholders from throughout the Texas-Mexico border region to advance initiatives to address challenges related to international trade with Mexico."
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DOD Plans for Resumption of Normal Operations After Pandemic

Defense Department planners are working on how to resume normal military operations following the coronavirus pandemic, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said.
Original author: Jim Garamone
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Registration Opens for Virtual Military Spouse Symposium

Military spouses can learn how to search for federal jobs, make a career change, polish their resumes and more at the fourth annual Virtual Military Spouse Symposium.
Original author: DoD News
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Defense Officials Express Agreement With President's Warning to Iran

Defense Department officials are in full agreement with President Donald J. Trump's warning to the Iranian regime on Twitter, senior Pentagon officials said today.
Original author: Jim Garamone
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