2023 Outstanding Exes
Class of 1969
Stephanie Karr's journey of service and leadership began at El Paso High School where she was the Spring Fiesta Queen and developed a passion for theater, speech, and debate, setting the stage for her future in speech pathology and community work.
Stephanie graduated from Emerson College in Boston, earning a Bachelor's degree in Speech Communications, continuing with her Master's degree in Speech Pathology at the University of Texas in Austin where she started her family then-husband, John Dodson, and welcomed two children, Zach and Seth Dodson. She later relocated back to El Paso, where she established a private practice in speech pathology, focusing on working with children in the community.
She has served in many capacities in El Paso. She was the clinic director of the Paso del Norte Children's Development Center and founded the El Papalote Inclusive Daycare Center, executive director of the Child Crisis Center of El Paso, helping establish the Circle of Love Nursery and the Paso del Norte Fatherhood Project and executive director of the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV) where she led a $7.5-million campaign to replace the aging shelter with a new facility.
In the aftermath of the tragic events of August 3, 2019, at the Walmart in El Paso, she was integral in forming One Fund El Paso. Alongside collaborator Sanjay Mathur, she managed and distributed millions of dollars in financial contributions to assist those affected by the tragedy.
Stephanie has received multiple awards for her impact on El Paso; 2013 El Paso Inc.'s Women of Impact, 2019 Border Hero Award from Los Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Director's Community Leadership Award from the FBI in 2021 while serving at One Fund.
She volunteered for El Paso Adoption Services, fostering an incredible 112 infants over 12 years.
Stephanie has a strong passion for the arts. Alongside her husband and composer, Mark Watts, she has written and produced four captivating plays and musicals; Stephanie also finds joy in country two-stepping with her husband and indulges in quilting and knitting as creative outlets.
Class of 1973
Lina Ortega is currently representing El Paso District 77 as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representative. She is in her fourth term. She serves on two committees---Appropriation and Land and Resource Management---and formerly served on the Public Health, Higher Education, and Transportation committees. As a member of the Texas legislature, she sees her mission as “improving the lives of every El Pasoan.”
Lina graduated from El Paso High School in 1973, going on to the University of Texas at El Paso and transferring to University of Texas at Austin. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Government (with a minor in Economics} in 1975 and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence at the University of Texas School of Law in 1978.
Lina worked with the El Paso High Alumni in securing $17.5 million from the El Paso Independent School District for the restoration of El Paso High School, she said “The Lady on the Hill” drove her to assist in this important project.
Lina began her legal career in the Law Enforcement Division of the Texas Assistant Attorney General Office and later became an Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso. Lina was recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America”.
Lina spent more than 30 years in private practice, working in the past with her law partner Ray Caballero, the former mayor of El Paso. She has been given the honorary title of “Texas Super Lawyer,” “Preeminent Woman Lawyer,” and one of Texas State Bar’s “Legal Legends.”
Lina also served on the board of directors of Family Services of El Paso. She chaired the Environmental Task Force for the City of El Paso from 2001-2003. She is the past president of both the Women's Bar Association and the El Paso County Trial Lawyers Association. She was also appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to the State Board of Disciplinary Appeals and served the community as the El Paso County Ethics Commission's chair.
Lina is married to a university professor and has two adult daughters, who have followed in the footsteps of their mother: one is currently the President of Loretto Academy and the other is a Pulmonary Critical Care doctor in Seattle, Washington. She is the proud grandmother of Augustin, Elias, Esmie, and infant Adan.
Patricia Salcido Montes
Class of 1977
Pat Salicido Montes inspiration starts with her mom and siblings, all EPHS graduates.
She was born in El Paso and grew up in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, until the age of ten when she lost her dad and moved back to El Paso. Her mom raised six kids as a single mom.
After moving to El Paso, she quickly adapted to the ESL program at Lamar Elementary. At El Paso High, she was a cheerleader, involved in student government, and elected Prom Lady-In-Waiting.
She attended the University of Texas at El Paso and received a BA in Social work with an aim to be a licensed therapist. Her husband, Dr. Gilbert Montes, class of ’73 encouraged her to pursue a law degree. As a parent to her three-year-old son, Michael, she graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law and pursued her law career at a leading Texas personal injury Dallas firm.
In 1987, Pat started Montes Law PLLC, representing catastrophically injured clients. Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law, with an added niche as a nationally known Trial Consultant, she worked with some of the premier law firms nationwide in trial team preparation.
She has received numerous awards, including the 2019 Texas Women Lawyers’ Pathfinder Award, Texas Trial Lawyers’ Hispanic Magazine’s 75 Most Influential Hispanic Leaders of Texas,
She currently serves on the Board of Directors: Texas Trial Lawyers, Dallas Trial Lawyers, and Dallas Mexican American Bar. Member: American Association of Justice, Texas Women Lawyers, El Paso County Trial Lawyers, Tarrant County Trial Lawyers, Trial Lawyers’ College, Dallas Hispanic Bar, National Trial Lawyers, Dallas Bar, State Bar College, and El Paso High Alumni Association and has served in numerous organizations throughout her career.
Her husband Gil and sons Michael and Chris, daughters-in-law Tabatha and Liz and six beautiful grandkids, and nieces and nephews remain a motivation in her life. Pat credits her mom and dad for giving her the stimulus to achieve and have pride in herself, in the things she accomplishes. She is extremely grateful for the experiences and teachings at El Paso High, which boosted her to strive for success without forgetting her roots.