About the Harris County Judge

In Texas, counties are governed by four county commissioners and a county judge, who is actually the county’s executive and not a member of the judiciary. In Harris County, the Commissioners Court plays a critical role that is part administrative, part legislative, and part judicial. Its many responsibilities include adopting a budget; setting tax rates; calling for bond elections; building and maintaining county infrastructure such as roads and bridges; and overseeing county courthouses, jails, libraries, parks, and the Harris County Flood Control District. Harris County Commissioners Court also oversees a $4.3 billion budget that helps pay for key services. Additionally, the county judge serves as the Director of the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Harris County is the third largest and one of the most diverse counties in the nation, with a population of 4.7 million people. About half the county’s residents live in unincorporated parts of Harris County, while the remainder live in Houston or one of many small cities within the county.

Since 2019, Lina Hidalgo has served as Harris County Judge. A Stanford alumna, she is the first woman to be elected County Judge and only the second to be elected to the Commissioners Court.

The County Judge’s Office (CJO) Policy Fellowship equips the next generation of policy advocates and lawmakers with local government public policy experience and leadership development opportunities.

Fellow Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Judge Hidalgo has a bold, new vision for what is possible through Harris County government. As a member of the County Judge’s team, Policy Fellows will work directly with Judge Hidalgo’s policy team, gaining professional and personal development experience. The Fellowship provides a hands-on experience for current college students who are passionate about supporting complex public policy initiatives.

The Fellowship creates a unique opportunity for students to learn more about county government and the process of implementing policies that impact millions of Harris County residents every day. Fellows may work in an in-person, remote, or hybrid format. Duties include:

  • Working with fellow policy team members to maintain the Judge’s policy and research agenda
  • Conducting research around a variety of policy topics while producing written materials, including policy memos, issue reports, and presentations
  • Collaborating on a variety of policy topic areas, as needed, including but not limited to: Transportation; Housing; Criminal & Juvenile Justice, Infant-Toddler and Caregiver Support, Economic Opportunity & Development, Health, and Environment
  • Transforming qualitative and quantitative data into easily shareable and digestible information to be shared with County Judge’s Office leadership.
  • Analyzing the implications of events and policy decisions that are relevant to the Judge’s policy and research agenda
  • Working with other County Judge’s Office team members to facilitate engagement with the community to inform the office’s policy effort

Desired Skills

  • Proven ability to meet multiple deadlines and balance numerous projects in a fast-paced and changing environment
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Must demonstrate a strong sense of urgency and initiative; highly organized and with the ability to achieve systematic delivery under tight deadlines
  • Ability to prioritize effectively; superb time management skills
  • Excellent teamwork skills and ability to work autonomously with accountability

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