by Kia Makarechi
September 18, 2014, New York, NY – A number of PAAIA members and affiliated Iranian Americans gathered on Tuesday to celebrate and raise funds for Cyrus Habib, a member of Washington state’s house who is running for state senate.
Habib, a former Rhodes scholar and graduate of Columbia, Yale, and Oxford, is the democratic nominee in the race for the senate seat in the 48th district. Habib has risen to become the highest-ranking Iranian American lawmaker in the United States, the latest in a considerable run of feats made all the more impressive given the challenges he has overcome to date.
At Tuesday’s event, which was held at the law offices of Storch, Amini & Munves, Habib gave a stirring speech that contextualized his success as the product of a life built on a triumvirate of virtues: gratitude, hard work, and creativity. Habib spoke of a foundational experience in his youth, retelling a time when his mother, Judge Susan Amini, refused to allow his elementary school treat him differently than other students. Citing his blindness, the school was not allowing him to join his peers in the playground. Amini took Habib to the monkey bars and taught him how to climb them, saying that while she, like all parents, feared that he might fall and hurt himself, the only thing she could not bear was a son with a broken spirit.
Since those days on the monkey bars at Somerset Elementary School, Habib has seen the fruits of his labor pay off. In addition to his previously mentioned accomplishments, Habib is a former Soros Fellow and was the editor of the Yale Law Review. The support of family was but one of the gifts he credited with his success, highlighting libraries, schools, and the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind as instrumental in his transition—as he has said before—“from braille to Yale.”
Habib returned repeatedly to the theme of local action, all the while thanking the Iranian American community for its nation-wide support of his political candidacies and ambitions. PAAIA NexGen’s Iman Bacodari, one of the evening’s hosts, thanked attendees and encouraged them to support Habib’s campaign, noting that many Iranian Americans hope the state senate will mark merely the next step in Habib’s political career. In introducing Habib, Bijan Amini described him as an inspiring man whose accomplishments belie Habib’s age (the lawmaker is 33 years old).
Also present was Councilwoman Anna M. Kaplan, representing District 4 in North Hempstead, whom Habib celebrated for her contributions to New York’s civic life.
Bacodari, Habib, and Amini each reminded attendees that while Iranian Americans are incredibly accomplished in a number of fields in the United States, the community is woefully underrepresented in the public sector. Supporting lawmakers such as Habib in their present and future campaigns are, of course, vital in ensuring that the Iranian American community’s voice is heard in the halls of America’s legislators.
Click here to learn more about Cyrus Habib’s campaign.
Click here to view pictures of the reception.