Visionary Women of Houston: Toni M. Wallace

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, the Defender celebrates some visionary women to watch. They are making a difference in Houston and beyond and succeeding in various walks of life. From the boardroom to the courtroom, they see where they want to be in the future and are taking the necessary steps to get there. They inspire others to achieve a common goal and have a knack for developing strong relationships.

They are focused, disciplined, creative, resilient, persistent and positive. They know the importance of family and care about their communities. They make “bold, boss moves” on a regular basis, another reason why they are women of vision.

Education: University of Texas at Austin, Bachelor of Journalism; South Texas College of Law, Doctorate of Jurisprudence (JD)

Occupation:  Judge, Fort Bend County Court at Law Number 4

Motto/Philosophy:  “…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  (from “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson)

Her vision:  I am courageous, but not because I am unafraid. Nelson Mandela said courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I know that my reward, my triumph is ALWAYS on the other side of my fear, so I have to push through it. I  have not relied on the traditional definition of success. I believe that my success should be determined on my own terms. I was the first African-American Female ever appointed to be a judge of a County Court in Fort Bend County in 2016. And in 2018, I was one of five who became the first African-American judges ever elected to bench in Fort Bend County, Texas.

Bold, boss moves:I dared to believe that I could win an election to become one of the first African American judges elected in Fort Bend County, Texas. This county has been in existence since the 1830’s and has never elected a Black judge at the County Court level. I ran a campaign based on my knowledge and experience as a former judge and WON!!

All in a day’s work: Most every day starts with prayer. I’m a wife first, then a mom. Once those people are situated, I make my way to the courthouse to the best job I’ve ever had! My working hours are spent in the courtroom serving Fort Bend County. Throughout the week I hear juvenile criminal cases, misdemeanor criminal cases, probate (wills & guardianship) cases, and civil cases (contract disputes or eviction appeals). When I’m not on the bench I am reviewing files to make decisions on various requests from attorneys. I also review files to make payments for court appointed attorneys. As the Administrative Judge for all 6 of the County Courts in Fort Bend County, I am also responsible for … When I leave the courthouse, I’m back on mommy duty, which typically involves transporting someone to sports practice, bible study or a school event. My judge duties never stop, because I am one of the judges called upon to review arrest warrants after hours, usually at 2 or 3 am.

Balancing it all: Prayer, caffeine, and a family support system.

Words of wisdom: Surround yourself with women who will laugh with you, cry with you, pray for you, encourage you, challenge you, and help you hide the body! You already have everything you need to fulfill your purpose. Your job is to cultivate what you’ve been given, humble yourself to learn from others and be willing to share your gifts with others.

Dream job: The person who gets paid to travels to tropical resorts to write articles and review the facilities. Combines my two favorite things: traveling and writing!