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Catherine Tobin Hilliard New Port Commissioner

Attorney Catherine Tobin Hilliard on Feb. 6 was named as the replacement for Barbara Canales on the Port of Corpus Christi Board of Commissioners. Hilliard is expected to be sworn in and begin work Feb. 19. Courtesy photo

Catherine Tobin Hilliard will be sworn in as the newest Port of Corpus Christi commissioner when that board meets Feb. 19. The Corpus Christi attorney was appointed to replace former Commissioner Barbara Canales, who resigned to serve as Nueces County judge. Canales was elected Nov. 6 as the first woman to ever serve in that role in the county’s 172-year history. Naming Hilliard, one of 11 who applied for the position, keeps a woman on the otherwise all-male board of seven members.

As an attorney, Hilliard manages a firm she owns with her husband, Bob Hilliard, one of the nation’s top civil trial attorneys. Hilliard Martinez Gonzales LLP law firm has 60 employees and 18 lawyers. Outside the office, she is treasurer of St. Edward’s University Board of Trustees in Austin, chair of the board of trustees at Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi, and sits on the board of the Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation. She and her husband have seven children.

A South Texas native, Hilliard grew up in San Diego, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin, receiving her law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

Hilliard was nominated by Nueces County Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn. She admitted that, despite her extensive resume, she has no experience in the industry she will now be part of managing.

“But I bring to the port the diversity and experience as a lawyer and a community member who serves on many boards,” she told reporters after her appointment was announced. “I’m grateful to the commissioners and to the county judge for their vote of confidence.”

Hilliard will serve out the end of Canales’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2019. She will be eligible for re-appointment.

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