Ruth Hughs


Ruth Ruggero Hughs, former Texas Secretary of State, is a partner at Kelly Hart’s Austin office and Co-Chair’s the firm’s Public Law group.  Her practice is focused on Public Law, assisting businesses to manage the intersection of law, policy and government, including advising on international transactions and trade matters, government procurement, energy regulatory and policy matters, corporate governance and crisis counseling, federal and state regulatory matters, and public policy. Ms. Hughs brings decades of combined legal, government, and political experience to the comprehensive array of services she provides to corporate, public, and non-public clients at the federal, state, and local levels.


Ms. Hughs most recently served the State of Texas as the 113th Secretary of State, appointed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2019. As Secretary, she was the State’s Chief Election Officer, Chief International Protocol Officer, and the Governor’s Chief Advisor and Liaison to Mexico and the border region. While Secretary of State, she served as the Texas’ Border Commerce Coordinator and Chair of the Border Trade Advisory Committee (BTAC), which advises the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to advance infrastructure projects that facilitate cross-border trade between Texas and Mexico. In that role, she convened the BTAC, which included over 30 stakeholder groups and worked to advance the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan (BTMP) to completion.

“Throughout her time as Secretary of State, Ruth has been a faithful servant to the people of Texas, and I thank her for her commitment to our state,” said Governor Abbott. “Ruth’s exceptional leadership has helped strengthen the Texas brand on the international stage and grow our businesses and trade relationships around the world. Ruth also served as a trustworthy steward of our elections. I am grateful for our collaboration over the past few years to build an even brighter future for the Lone Star State.”

In addition, she served as a member of the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response (IDTF) and was a member of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas (COVID-19 Response). Hughs also led the partnership program for Texas Businesses Against Human Trafficking (TBAT). Prior to her appointment as Secretary of State, Hughs served as Chair and Commissioner Representing Employers at the Texas Workforce Commission, where she worked to foster opportunities for economic growth by partnering with the business community to provide employers with a variety of resources to expand their businesses. Hughs also previously served at the Office of the Texas Attorney General as the Director of Defense Litigation. She was responsible for successfully managing and overseeing the civil litigation divisions representing agencies across the state. Before her tenure in public service, Hughs worked as a licensed attorney and was a small business owner.

Hughs is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the New Jersey State Bar. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin and a Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers Camden School of Law, where she was named Top Ten Best Oralist and was on the Jessup International Moot Court team. She is fluent in Spanish.

  • Texas Bar Association
  • Austin Bar Association
  • Greater Austin Chamber Board, Vice Chair of Economic Development
  • Hispanic Bar Association of Austin
  • Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association
  • Austin Chamber of Commerce, Board
  • National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), Emeritus
  • UTeach Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, UTeach Advisory Council
  • Texas Science and Engineering Fair (TXSEF) Advisory Board Chair
  • The Long Center, Board
  • Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, 2023
  • World Affairs Council of Austin
  • University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Women’s Power Summit Advisory Board Member
  • Argentina-Texas Chamber of Commerce, Member
  • Women’s Symphony League, Member
  • National Charity League, Capital of Texas Chapter, Member
  • Junior League of Austin, Sustaining Member

  • Honorary Consul to Spain in Austin
  • Best Lawyers in America®, U.S. News & World Report, 2024
    • Government Relations
  • Texas Woman of Influence, Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce, 2023 
  • Great Woman of Texas, Fort Worth Business Press, 2022
  • Certificate in Leader Development, United States Army War College’s National Security Seminar
  • The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution, Public Policy Fellow, 2018
  • Texas Young Lawyers Rising Star, Thomson Reuters, 2006, 2009
  • Rutgers Camden School of Law, J.D., 1995
  • University of Texas at Austin, B.A., 1991
  • State Bar of New Jersey, 1995
  • State Bar of Texas, 2003
  • Moderator, “Manufacturing-Onshoring and Nearshoring,” YTexas Summit, October 2023
  • Panelist, “Nearshoring: Mexico’s Golden Opportunity to Develop its Economy, Industry and Society,” 9th Mexico Gas Summit, June 2023
  • Panelist, Texas-Panama Transportation Trade Mission, April 2023
  • Moderator, International Relocations, 2021 YTexas “State of Business” Summit, September 2021

Ruth Hughs

Partner | Co-Chair Public Law Practice
P: (512) 495-6449
F: (512) 495-6401



  • State Bar of New Jersey
  • State Bar of Texas

Practice Areas

Best Lawyers in America®, U.S. News & World Report, 2024