Friday, September 7, 2007

Meet Your Elected Officials- Helen Giddings

Representative Helen Giddings

Helen Giddings is a lifelong resident of Dallas County, and believes that public service identifies her. She is a community leader, successful entrepreneur, and is currently serving an eighth-term as a member of the Texas State House of Representatives. Rep. Giddings is Chair of the Business & Industry Committee, Vice-Chair of the House Administration Committee, and a member of the Committee on Higher Education.

Giddings previously served on the House Select Committee on Public Education, the House Select Committee on Contested Elections and the House Committee on Financial Institutions.
The founder and President of Multiplex Inc., she continues to be a strong voice for small business, and has served as the Board Chair of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. In the 1980's, as Vice-Chair of the Dallas Transit Board, her mediation skills were invaluable in helping to bring a bus driver strike to an end. Her objectivity and sense of fairness enabled her to serve with distinction on both the State Bar Grievance Committee and the Dallas County Grand Jury.
A passionate advocate for education, she has focused much of her time and energy on providing equal educational opportunities for children. In 1997, she authored the legislation establishing the “Read to Succeed Program” which included then Governor George Bush’s reading initiative. The program enables Texas drivers' to order a special license plate, and the proceeds provide financial support to the Texas school library of the driver's choice. The "Read to Succeed" license plate is the first Texas license plate designed by a child. Furthermore, Giddings authored legislation that prohibits five year olds being placed in alternative education. In 1995, Giddings authored legislation to prohibit alcohol related businesses near schools.

She successfully authored legislation on dyslexia and other learning disabilities as well as programs which address adult education. In higher education, she has led efforts to eliminate geographic and ethnic disparities in funding. Her endeavors have led to more equitable funding for institutions of higher learning in the Metroplex. In order to provide equal opportunities for minorities and rural students, in 1997 Giddings joint authored the Top 10% rule. In recognition of her dedication to education, the Concerned DeSoto Citizens established a scholarship in her honor. Likewise, Pearl C. Anderson School in Dallas, Texas named their library “The Helen Giddings Media Center."

During the 79th Legislature as the Business and Industry chair, she joint authored legislation creating the new Worker's Compensation system as well as authoring five bills focusing on Identity Theft Prevention, Punishment of Criminals, and Help for Victims of Identity Theft. In 2003, Giddings authored the 900 page Business Organization Code.
With a profound interest in the arts, Helen has served on the boards of the African American Museum, Dallas Symphony Board, Dallas Summer Musicals and the Dallas Theater Center. Her contributions to the community and the arts lead to the African American Museum naming a room in her honor.

Having served on the Dallas City Planning Commission, she understands the need to create safer neighborhoods which led her to author legislation on code enforcement, as well as legislation encouraging the building of affordable housing, which permits the transfer of properties (acquired through delinquent taxes) to builders of affordable housing. As a proponent for justice, Giddings authored legislation to create an unsolved crimes unit within the Texas Rangers agency.

Helen has been a vocal and active participant in the reaffirmation and revitalization of South Africa. She has worked to improve trade and cultural relations between South Africa and the United States. During her many trips to South Africa, she has received awards and recognition from former President Nelson Mandela and served on the Texas Host Committee for the visit of President, Thabo Mbeki. As a tribute to the outstanding work that Helen has done in South Africa, Prairie View A&M University has established the Helen Giddings Scholarships for Exemplary Students from South Africa, which are Presidential level scholarships.
Her service has earned many awards and special recognition including; National Association of Historically Black College Alumni Award, Maura Award, The Heart Award from the American Heart Association and an Honorary Doctorate from Paul Quinn College.

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