Houston, Nov. 14 , 2008 – LawFuel – Graciela (Gracie) Guzman Saenz, a former Houston City Council member and former Mayor Pro Tem, joined Winstead PC as a shareholder, Nov. 1, 2008. She works in the firm’s Houston office, in the Government Relations Practice Group and she also is a member of the Public Finance Practice Group. Saenz was formerly a partner at Oppel, Goldberg and Saenz, P.L.L.C., where her practice focused on business, commercial and international business transactions.
“We are committed to expanding client service and building strong business relationships in Houston. Bringing Gracie to the Winstead team is a positive and beneficial move for our firm and we are extremely pleased that she is joining us. Gracie has a lifetime of impressive accomplishments and a proven record of dedication to the City of Houston, its community and its economy. She is a well-respected business woman—born, educated, and raised here—and she is dedicated to the efforts that give our city its rich culture and warm reputation as a place to thrive in business,” said Winstead CEO and Chairman Denis Braham.
Saenz began her legal career working as a Harris County assistant district attorney. She was born and raised in Houston’s 5th Ward area and is a strong supporter and advocate of youth programs and inner city redevelopment. In 1992, she was elected to the Houston City Council where she served three two-year terms in office. She was the first Hispanic to hold an At-Large position in Houston’s City Council. During her tenure, she supported several international economic development initiatives such as chairing the NAFTA Task Force for the City that sought to lobby the legislature for the eventual passage of the North American Free Trade Alliance.
In addition, Saenz served as Houston’s member to the World Energy Cities Partnership, which sought to strengthen the relationships between the energy capitals of the world and was instrumental in bringing in the city of Villa Hermosa, Tabasco, Mexico as a participating member. Saenz also chaired the Houston International Initiatives, a non profit organization which promoted trade missions into Latin America. In 1995, Saenz received the International Service Award from the Houston Junior Chamber for her dedicated international service to Houston.
In 1994, Mayor Robert Lanier nominated Saenz as the Mayor Pro Tem for the City and during her term, she participated in and chaired several activities and organizations including the Ethics Council Committee, Minority Women-Owned Business Enterprise Council, Aviation Council, and the Business and Tourism Council.
According to Houston Managing Shareholder Greg Erwin, “Gracie brings an impressive record of accomplishments and established relationships in the Houston business community to our firm. We are looking forward to exploring new opportunities in public private partnerships, government relations, public finance, and corporate representation with her. We will benefit from her exceptional skills and we are confident that Gracie will be able to leverage Winstead’s deep bench of talented attorneys in order to identify new opportunities and build new alliances.”
Saenz represents a broad range of government and corporate clients in energy, education and tourism. She serves on the boards of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Memorial Hermann Hospital System, the College of Biblical Studies, Project Grad and the Harris County Housing Authority. She is on the Advisory board of directors of Latin Women’s Initiative, the Plaza Group, the University of Houston Law Center and the Baylor College of Medicine’s Underrepresented Students’ Committee.
She is past president of LULAC Council 643 and is a fellow of the American Leadership Forum and a graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future. She has been honored with several prestigious awards including the Distinguished Service Award, University of Houston, College of Law Faculty and the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts. She was named Hispanic Woman of the Year by the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation and she was listed in the Hispanic Women in Leadership Hall of Fame. In 2007, Saenz was selected as a Women on the Move by the Texas Executive Women’s organization and received the prestigious Sor Juana Award by the Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. Saenz received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and her B.A. in Spanish from the University of Houston.
“Winstead recognizes the rich opportunities that exist in Houston and its wonderful people. I share the firm’s vision for growth and expansion in Houston and by combining our resources, I believe we will continue to build strong relationships and enhance Winstead’s presence in core business areas. We are the largest city in Texas, blessed with a great location and excellent business opportunities. I look forward to teaming with the attorneys at Winstead and identifying new ways to serve the important needs of our current and future clients,” said Saenz.
Winstead is among the largest business law firms in Texas. Winstead attorneys and consultants serve as trusted advisors to mid-market and large businesses, providing a core range of legal services that are critical to their operation and success. From its well-known reputation in real estate and financial services to its corporate and high-stakes litigation practice, Winstead delivers practical knowledge and responsive service. And it’s all backed by a get-it-done attitude. Winstead has offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and The Woodlands, Texas; and Washington, D.C. For detailed information about Winstead, visit www.winstead.com.