Maria Luisa (Lulu) Flores Papers, 1941-2010
Maria Luisa (Lulu) Flores was born the youngest of nine children to Francisco J. and Ernestina Flores in Laredo, Texas in 1955. Her father, Francisco, worked as an attorney for over forty years, served as the County Tax Assessor for Webb County for over twenty years, and was one of the founding members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), an organization that advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs. Flores' mother, known as "Nena," was the oldest of nine children born to Miguel and Antonia Garcia Saldana. During the Great Depression, Flores' mother sacrificed her college education to work and help support her family. After raising her children, Ernestina Flores worked as a schoolteacher and managed an apparel shop. She was also active in church, civic, and community organizations.
Flores attended primary and secondary school at the Ursuline Academy and St. Joseph Academy where, during her junior year, she was the first female student elected Council President. Upon graduation, Flores attended Laredo Junior College (now Laredo Community College) where, after two years, she graduated as co-valedictorian and received a scholarship to attend the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating from UT Austin with high honors, Flores earned an academic scholarship to attend the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. While in law school, Flores served as Chief of Staff for Irma Rangel, a Democratic state legislator in the Texas House of Representatives. Rangel served as a state representative for the 43rd District from 1977-2003, and was known as a champion of expanding educational opportunities for low-income and minority students. After graduating from law school in 1980, Flores returned to work as Chief of Staff for Representative Rangel, who Flores has described as a mentor and life-long friend.
Flores has had a long career in law and government. She has worked as Assistant Director for Governmental Affairs for the Texas Railroad Commission and Legislative Director for the State Bar of Texas where she also served as Chair of the Hispanic Issues Section. Flores has also been an active member of the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, served as State President of the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas (MABAT), and served on the Supreme Court of Texas Gender Bias Committee. As of November 2016, Flores continues her legal work as a partner of the Austin-based law firm Hendler Lyons Flores where she serves as senior legal advisor and provides strategic counsel on the firm's litigation.
Flores' life and career have been dedicated to advancing women's rights and equality in law, government, and society. She credits the strong, wise women in her family, especially her mother, for her commitment to women's equality in education, law, and society. Reflecting on how dominant historical narratives silence women's contributions to society, Flores has written that, "The fact that many of us may not be aware of the contributions made by women is sad, but not too surprising given that until relatively recently, history was recorded by men, and thus only partially written and partially told. It's as if we neglected to use vital colors in painting the portrait of this nation." After three unsuccessful campaigns for political office in the early 1990s, Flores became an active member of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC). Flores served on the NWPC Board of Directors for over twenty years, including two consecutive terms as President (2007-2011). During her tenure as Board President, Flores worked to increase the number of women from diverse backgrounds seeking local, state, and national political office. Flores also served on the National Finance Council for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
Flores also co-founded the Women's Advocacy Project (now the Texas Advocacy Project), a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to promoting access to justice for vulnerable Texas women and their children. Established in 1982, the Women's Advocacy Project provided legal resources to women about their rights and issues related to domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition to serving on the volunteer boards of Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region and the Battered Women's Center (now SafePlace), Flores also served as President of the Board of Directors for the Women's Advocacy Project from 1993-2003 where she oversaw strategic planning, grant research, and community outreach. A profile of Flores in The Good Life magazine discusses how Flores saved Women's Advocacy Project from financial crisis by engaging her personal network of donors and supporters. Flores also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
In addition to her work in law, government, and women's advocacy, Flores has also been deeply committed to the arts. Flores has served on the Board of Directors for the Austin-based Mexic-Arte Museum, including several years as President. The mission of the Mexic-Arte Museum is to promote, preserve, and present traditional and contemporary Mexican and Latin American art and culture. Founded in 1983 by artists Sam Coronado, Sylvia Orozco, and Pio Pulido, Mexic-Arte has since established itself as a major cultural institution in Texas and as one of the "big four" Latino Museums in the United States. The museum achieved several significant accomplishments during Flores' tenure on the Board of Directors, most notably, the purchase and renovation of the downtown building (419 South Congress Avenue) that serves as the museum's current site, the transnational agreement with Mexico's El Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes de México (CONACULTA) to exhibit Mexican art collections at Mexic-Arte, and the designation of Mexic-Arte as the official Mexican and Mexican American Fine Art Museum of Texas by the 78th Legislature. Flores continues her dedication to local arts and culture as the Commissioner of the Austin Art Commission.
A trailblazing Latina attorney and activist with a lifelong commitment to social justice, the arts, and women's equality in government and law, Flores has been honored with numerous accolades and awards. Flores' honors include the Certificate of Merit Award from the President and Board of the State Bar of Texas (2006), the National Latina Lawyer of the Year from the Hispanic National Bar Association (2010), the Latina Leader in Advocacy Award from the Imagen Foundation (2010), the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association and Foundation (2011), and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Austin YWCA (2011). The Travis County Lawyers Association named Flores a Pathfinder (2012) and the University of Texas Chicano/Hispanic Law Students Association named her one of their Mujeres en Acción (2012). Flores was also honored with the Spirit of the Community Award by the University of Texas Chicano/Hispanic Law Students Association (2013), and inducted into the Austin Women's Hall of Fame (2014).
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) website, Accessed October 23, 2016, http://lulac.org/about/
Flores, Lulu. National Women's Political Caucus website, Accessed October 23, 2016, http://nwpcblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/our-history-is-our-strength.html
"Woman of the Year," Texas Law News, Accessed September 26th, 2016, https://law.utexas.edu/news/2010/11/17/woman-of-the-year/
Leach, Karen. "Lulu Flores: Quiet force speaks loudly in women's advocacy," The Good Life , November 1999, 19.
"2015 Trio Honoree: Lulu Flores," Travis County Democratic Party website, Accessed September 26th, 2016, http://www.traviscountydemocrats.org/2015/08/14/2015-trio-honoree-lulu-flores/
"Rangel, Irma Lerma," Texas State Historical Association website, Accessed October 25, 2016, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fra85
"Mission statement of Women's Advocacy Project, Inc.," Women's Shelters: a nationwide directory of shelters for women website, Accessed October 3, 2016, https://www.womenshelters.org/det/womens-advocacy-project-inc
"Austin Lawyer Lulu Flores Selected for National Bar Association Award," PR Web website, Accessed October 3, 2016, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/08/prweb4432744.html
Divided into four series, bulk of the Maria Luisa "Lulu" Flores collection, 1941-2010, documents Flores's role as President of the Board of Directors for the Mexic-Arte Museum, the official Mexican-American Fine Art Museum of Texas. The collection also documents Flores's years working with The Women's Advocacy Project; her involvement with the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas, the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, and as chair of the State Bar of Texas Hispanic Issues Section. Also included are materials relating to her father, Francisco Flores, and his work as a lawyer and as a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
The Francisco Flores Papers (1941-1967) series consists of materials he collected during the 1940s as the President of Council No. 12 of LULAC in Laredo, and as LULAC's National Secretary. Organizational materials such as the LULAC's constitution and bylaws, rosters, hand-written budget sheets, newsletters, meeting reminder postcards, reports, and items related to the Washington's Birthday Celebration and Noche Mexicana in Laredo make up the bulk of this series. In addition to several single newsletters, there is a bound LULAC News book that contains newsletters from 1945-1946. Non-textual items in the collection include a LULAC luggage sticker and a couple of Union National Bank checkbooks from the 1940s. The series also documents Francisco Flores's time as the President of the Laredo Bar Association, including most notably a transcript of a Naturalization Hearing held in 1950 where he appeared in court as a representative of the association.
Series two, Women's Advocacy Project (1997-2003), contains agendas, minutes, financial statements, legal documents, resumes, brochures, loan materials, and press releases all related to the organization. The collected materials demonstrate Flores's involvement with the programming and strategic direction of the Women's Advocacy Project, including records related to staffing, evaluations, budgeting, fundraising, grant research, community outreach, and program planning. Included in this series is a copy of The Good Life magazine from 1999 which features Flores's work with the Women's Advocacy Project as the cover story.
Series three, Bar Associations and Other Activities (1999-2005), documents Flores's active involvement with professional legal organizations both local and national, and with her leadership roles in political and community service related activities. This series is divided into five sub-series: Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, Mexican American Bar Association of Texas, State Bar of Texas, Texas Supreme Court Gender Bias Reform Implementation Committee, and Other Activities. Agendas, minutes, correspondence, reports, bylaws, and other textual materials make up most of the items in each sub-series, however also included in these files are a floppy disk and a CD-ROM as a part of the Hispanic Issues Section video project from 2003. There are also photographs of Flores at an event in the Texas Instruments Foundation folder and a tote bag from the same event.
Series four, Mexic-Arte Museum (2001-2010), represents the bulk of the collection and documents Flores's time serving on the Board of Directors for the Mexic-Arte Museum. Monthly board meeting agendas, committee agendas, project plans, audits, budget information, policy and procedure manuals, correspondence, and some ephemera from the museum such as postcards, fliers, and exhibit guides document Flores's involvement with the museum from 2003-2010. During her tenure on the board, the museum accomplished significant organizational goals such as a partnership with the Mexican government through the National Council for Culture and Arts (CONACULTA); receiving the 2006 award of $5 million General Obligation bond funds from the City of Austin for renovations and/or expansion; the museum's 25th anniversary celebration; and the museum's continued collaboration with local institutions such as the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) and the University of Texas at Austin.
The first section of this series is arranged around the Mexic-Arte's Board of Director's monthly meetings. Flores kept all meeting agendas, minutes, budgets, proposals, reports, and other materials obtained during the course of a meeting together. The exception being some loose materials in 2004 that were subsequently arranged by document type. The second section of the series contains other materials related to the organization documenting projects, reports, the Museum Store, policies and procedures, finances, and other activities.
Advance notice is required to access born ditital material from Box 8, Folder 3.
Box 11, Folder 5 is restricted due to the nature of the personal information contained.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: Maria Luisa (Lulu) Flores Papers, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
Accession numbers: 2016-12, 2017-11
Collection processed by Samantha Cook, Eric Graham, Sara Rogers, and Gabe Solis (iSchool Interns), Fall 2016.
Further materials are expected for this collection.
Box and Folder Inventory