Boots & Bats Co-Chair
Texas State Senator
Kirk Watson is former mayor of Austin, Texas, and was described by Texas Monthly Biz magazine as “a man with a vision of what the community wants and the moxie to carry it out.”
First elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Senator Watson and has been reelected four times. He represents most of Travis County and all of Bastrop County.
In 2019, the Texas Senate elected Senator Watson to be the Senate’s President Pro Tempore for the 86th Legislature.
His priorities center on education, health care, transportation, budget transparency, and state employees. He serves as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Nominations and also sits on the committees overseeing Education, Finance, and Higher Education as well the Sunset Advisory Commission.
As a cancer survivor, Senator Watson is passionate about making sure that all Texans have access to health care. He has been active in numerous health organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and served on the original board of what is now known as the LiveStrong Foundation.
In 2011, Senator Watson laid out 10 Goals in 10 Years to transform the health and economy of Austin and Travis County. The results have been transformative, resulting in the creation of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas and a new modern teaching and safety-net hospital, Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. The American Medical Association recognized Senator Watson’s contribution to healthcare with the prestigious Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service in 2017.
Building on those and other successes, Senator Watson launched a community-based effort to develop a center for world-class brain health treatment, research and education and has been honored by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and NAMI Austin for his leadership.
Among many other recognitions, Senator Watson has been named one of the state’s “10 Best
Legislators” by Texas Monthly. The President of the University of Texas at Austin presented him with the prestigious President’s Citation. Watson also received the Pro Texana Medal of Service from Baylor University and the Baylor Line Foundation (formerly the Baylor Alumni Association) named him a Distinguished Alumnus. The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas gave him its award as the Open Government Lawmaker of the Year and the Texas Press Association named him a Friend of the First Amendment for “his steadfast support of free speech and open government.” He’s also been named Austinite of the Year by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and received the W. Neal Kocurek Award for Healthcare Advocacy from People’s Community Clinic.
From 1991 to 1993, Watson served as Chair of the Texas Air Control Board, the state agency that was charged with addressing air quality in Texas. He was Vice-Chair of the committee that oversaw the consolidation of the Texas Air Control Board with the Texas Water Commission creating the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission, now known as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
He also has served as Chair of both the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Advisory Board of Environmental Defense, and he has been a member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of Texas. He has chaired the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the primary transportation planning agency for Central Texas.
Senator Watson graduated from Baylor University and graduated first in his law school class at Baylor Law School. He has been named an outstanding young alumnus of Baylor, Young Baylor Lawyer of the Year, and the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas. He is currently of counsel at the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP.
Senator Watson has been married to his wife, Liz, since 1979. They have two sons, Preston and Cooper. Preston is married to Catherine Edsel Watson. Preston and Catherine are the parents of Senator Watson’s first grandchild, Effie. Preston has a BA and MBA and works in the tech industry in Austin. Cooper has undergraduate degrees in physics and mechanical engineering. He’s in a PhD program in physics.