Last week I had the honor of introducing the 11th annual Liberty Achievement Award winner, Judge Lourdes Ventura, at the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Section Conference in New York.

The annual award is bestowed by the TIPS committee – in partnership with Thomson Reuters – to lawyers and judges who demonstrate leadership by actively promoting diversity in the legal profession.

Like past TIPS Liberty Achievement Award winners, Judge Ventura is a champion of diversity and inclusion. Her exemplary career has been defined by strong leadership and service to the Queens community.

Judge Ventura is a lifelong Queens resident who currently serves the Civil Court of the City of New York in Queens County. She has dedicated her work to supporting initiatives that address the under-representation of Latinos and women of color in the law.

Her election as a judge last December with the Civil Court of the City of New York seems like a natural fit for someone whose career has been defined by service.

She began her career working for the District Attorney of Queens County, where her bilingual skills were helpful in her work supporting clients and victims. It was especially comforting for victims to have someone who spoke Spanish to help guide them through the process.

Throughout the course of her career, Judge Ventura saw that diversity was invaluable. It held true in her role as assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Bureau of the state Attorney General’s Office, where she prosecuted cases and investigated complaints involving discrimination in housing and education, among other areas. More recently, she had clientele who spoke Spanish when she was a partner at Ahmuty, Demers & McManus, which specializes in all aspects of civil litigation.

Judge Ventura is a role model and mentor for both women and Latinos, not just in the legal space, but in the community as a whole. She supports several local civic organizations, and she has received numerous local and state awards for her strong community service.

Judge Ventura has been described by colleagues as a trailblazer and a history-maker.

As president of the Latino Lawyers Association in Queens County, Judge Ventura worked to establish the program Street Law en Español. Prior to Judge Ventura’s efforts, this program – which involves lawyers mentoring law students through presentations meant to educate the community on important legal matters – was offered only in English. The Street Law en Español program earned the Latino Lawyers Association the New York State Bar Association 2005 Award for Merit for local bar associations.

In 2015, Judge Ventura was the first Latina elected to serve as president of the Queen’s County Women’s Bar Association. Her election marked the first time in 84 years that the organization was led by a Latina.

She was also recognized by her former employer, the District Attorney of Queens County, with the 2015 Hispanic Heritage Award. Her accolades also include being honored with a Women of Distinction award from Assembly Member Michael G. Miller.

Judge Ventura earned her law degree and a master’s degree in social work from SUNY Buffalo Law School.

I was delighted to meet Judge Ventura this week and to have the pleasure of sharing her amazing accomplishments with TIPS members. Thomson Reuters is proud to support and partner with TIPS, and the Liberty Achievement Award is a wonderful way to celebrate our shared commitment to diversity in the law.

This post was authored by Sharon Sayles Belton, Government Partnerships & Alliances Lead for Thomson Reuters.