October 12, 2022

Adrianne Waddell Expresses the Importance of Giving Back and Embracing Your Culture

Holland & Knight Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight Series

Holland & Knight's Diversity Council and Hispanic Affinity Group are proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and pay tribute to the generations of Hispanics who have enriched America's history and continue to play a role in its future success. This year, we took time to speak to some of our Hispanic attorneys, who shared their stories with us. We now present a video series showcasing some of these conversations. We hope that the stories conveyed in these videos inspire those struggling with recognizing their roots and shine light to the contributions that Hispanics have provided to the United States.

In this episode, Austin Associate Adrianne Waddell highlights her Hispanic heritage and the importance of embracing differences. Adrianne talks about her involvement in the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin and the Hispanic National Bar Association from a young age. She also speaks about her involvement in helping immigrants at the United States-Mexico border.


Video Transcript

Adrianne Waddell: I was raised by my mom, who is Mexican-American. Her name is Rosalinda Garcia, and we're from originally a small town in south Texas. I was born in Austin, raised here. But my family is from Carrizo Springs, which is about an hour from the border. So, a huge Hispanic population there. I spent my summers there growing up, so it's really my second home.

2022 HHM Adrianne Waddell headshot

My family's Catholic, so I grew up in a Catholic church. And when there was such an influx of migrants over the border, especially in the valley, there are Catholic organizations that have set up sort of landing spots to help people. They would essentially pick them up from the border and bring them as sort of a landing spot and then help them get wherever they were going to. And so, we'd go down to the center and essentially help and assist with the people coming in. They sometimes had been in detention centers for days, so they hadn't gotten a shower. The kids had soiled clothes. And we'd welcome them and help them get new clothes. We had people that could help talk them through what paperwork they had, what they needed to do, if they needed to show up to a court date later to be processed further. What would happen if they needed help getting in touch with the family that was already here. There was a woman who had two children, and one was a non-verbal, physically disabled young little boy. He had to be 10, 10 or younger. And she was a small woman, and she had been physically carrying him, trying to get over here, and she had another younger son. And so just knowing that hardship was, I mean, that was just a feat in and of itself. But again, she was just physically a small woman carrying — he was a tall child, too — carrying her non-verbal son as well. And she had actually shared with us that she had tried, I believe, twice to come over before and had gotten caught or just couldn't make it. And I think this was the first time she had tried with her children. And she just was like, "I think that's why God helped us get here." It was the first time with her children, and she thankfully had them and came over. And the one thing that was beautiful about that is, we saw, she's carrying him, there's no way she could keep doing that without so much difficulty. That day, I put out a Facebook message and was like, "We'd love to get a stroller or something to help this woman out." And my friends and family raised over $600 in maybe two hours, because we had a limited time frame, when she would have been moving on out of that night center with, I believe they were going on a bus or a plane. And so within about two to three hours, we raised over $600 to buy a nice stroller so that she could travel with her non-verbal disabled son and also her other child more easily. Being down there and seeing firsthand the struggles of people coming over has been so impactful. And I try not to take it for granted at all the power that I hold as an attorney at a very big law firm with very big resources. And so, I know we can do pro bono, but just helping your community — you don't have to necessarily always be in that lawyer capacity. But we do have a very privileged position in the world, I think. And, you know, we have resources, and I think it's important to use those resources. I am the incoming president for the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, which is really a full circle. I actually have known some of these people since law school and maybe even before. I did grow up here, but I also went to UT Law for law school. And so, in law school I had a scholarship from the Hispanic Bar, and I still remember sitting in this conference room. They interviewed me and just asked me questions. And I was this bright-eyed, first year law student. I'm pretty sure I said I loved constitutional law or contract law. And thank goodness they weren't like, "Just wait." Little did I know that over 10 years later, now I am still with these people and now head of this organization that was giving me money that I needed when I was a law student. And so that's been really helpful in tying me in to just not only our Holland & Knight network, but this greater sort of national network of our Hispanic community that is so instrumental and integral to really a lot happening on a national scale. I mean, they've got political advocacy portions, they've got the Latina commission, they have in-house counsel, targeted focus groups. They've got a corporate counsel conference where you can mix with in-house counsel. There's so many great programs. And it is just another way in which you also see the diversity within our community. I think people see me and see my last name, which is not a very Hispanic-sounding name, and don't connect the two until they get to know me or until they talk to me or they meet my mom, who looks more Hispanic than I do, or my family. I think the diversity in our community and knowing that everyone has a different story and a different way they connect to their culture and heritage is important because in knowing those differences, that's what diversity is all about. It's not just about having the people there. When we talk about diversity, it's not just hiring people that look diverse or that, you know, you can check a box off. Like, these are people with life stories and it's those stories and that heritage and that culture that bring the diversity and that make this community and this firm better.

More Videos in this Series

Episode 1: Isabel Diaz Talks About Connecting with Others Through Their Differences

Episode 2: Dan Mateo Shares the Advantage of Being Authentic in the Workplace

Episode 3: Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz Reflects on Her Professional Path and Paving the Way for Others

Episode 4: Brad Hancock Shares How Understanding Cultural Backgrounds Strengthens Leadership

Episode 5: Angela Jimenez Highlights Family Traditions and the Importance of Hard Work

Episode 6: Tomás Castellanos Shares His Life Journey and Highlights the Importance of Mentorship

Episode 7: Adrianne Waddell Expresses the Importance of Giving Back and Embracing Your Culture (You are currently viewing Episode 7)

Episode 8: Jorge Hernandez-Toraño Talks about the Importance of Moving the Needle Forward for Hispanics

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