When Erin Nowell was five years old living in rural North Carolina, her father was shot and killed. This tragedy was young Nowell’s first exposure to the law, how it could be operationalized to correct injustices, and would become the basis of her future legal and political career. Like any child being raised by a single mother- especially a biracial child being raised by a white mother- Nowell’s childhood was characterized by both discomfort and triumphs. One of these highs came when Nowell was in kindergarten. Her principal brought her mother into his office, let her know that Nowell was an exceptionally bright child, and that she should be enrolling and registering her as African American. This, he said, would grant her access to significantly more financial aid and other educational opportunities in her formative years. Nowell now describes this moment as life-changing.
Although she never imagined she’d follow her great-grandfather’s footsteps (he was a mayor of a rural Mexican town), Veronica Carbajal is running for Mayor of El Paso. And, even in the face of a pandemic, Veronica has not slowed down. She is running her campaign virtually, continuing to develop policy and taking interviews online. In a way, Veronica is somewhat relieved. She is taking this time to physically recoup while still keeping herself busy with 10+ hour virtual days as a Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorney and mayoral candidate. Alongside other candidates across the nation, Veronica is virtually running for office.
Jessica González is currently serving her first term in the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 104. She represents constituents of her hometown in Dallas, Texas, and advocates for expanding voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, affordable housing, and much more. Though she never originally intended to run for elected office, she had a pivotal experience that encouraged her to do so. With unwavering support from her family and friends, she set on a path to truly make a difference in Texas politics. She is a firm believer in fighting for the ‘little guy’ and seeing things through to the end.
Deana Ayers is an activist, organizer, community builder, former student government leader, and more. They attribute their passion for civic engagement to their mother who would take her child with her to every election from the local to the presidential. Deana grew up with a role model that demonstrated an unwavering commitment to civic engagement. Deana’s mother was an entry point for them to get involved politically by focusing on voter engagement. Like many young people, it was not until the 2016 election that Deana understood the layers of processes that went into a presidential election. The upset of that election motivated them to dig into organizing from where they stood.
Christina Weir is a trans-feminine activist who identifies as a “Declaration of Independence progressive.” As compared to a Constitutional conservative, Christina analogizes her views to the Declaration of Independence—guaranteeing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For Christina, “life” is universal access to healthcare and “liberty” is universal access to education. Healthcare and education are Christina’s most passionate interests because of the challenges she has faced towards her ability differences, including Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyslexia, and Dysgraphia. Now, as a parent of children with ability differences, Christina advocates more than ever to ease access to healthcare and educational resources.
Anahí Ponce is an El Paso-based Xicana activist. Living in la frontera, or border community, Anahí embraces the fluidity that makes up Xicanx culture between Mexico and Texas. She founded Chicas de Chuco, a non-profit based organization in El Paso that brings leadership resources and organizing opportunities to womxn in the community. Even though she was born and raised in a predominantly Chicanx community, Anahí has been criticized by fellow Chicanx folks for not speaking Spanish fluently. It is a dilemma prominent for many Chicanx folks who were raised by grandparents or parents who were oppressed during an era of newly integrated schools in Texas. But Anahí is determined to expand the Chicanx identity—not limited by language.
Haley Ariyibi embodies what it means to be authentically herself, all while serving as the Speaker of the Senate as the University of Texas at Arlington. Haley was born in Irving, Texas, but moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, around the age of twelve. Haley expressed that through her experiences living in both cities, she was exposed to people from different backgrounds, opinions, and perspectives. Haley became more aware of politics during her senior year of high school when the country was gearing up for the 2016 Presidential Election. Haley reflected on how this election exposed her to the injustices that our world faces. From this experience, Haley found her passion for women’s rights, social activism, and the Black Lives Matters Movement.
Judge Lindsey Wynne was appointed as a District Court Judge in Collin County in September 2019. But it wasn’t her impressive appointment that provided Lindsey with the greatest satisfaction. Within two weeks of her appointment, Lindsey had a full docket of 1,500 cases that she began hearing on her first day. Over the course of her first five months and with the assistance of her remarkable court staff, she disposed of over 1,400 cases in her court. Not only does Lindsey pride herself in her noticeable efficiency and strong work ethic, but also her commitment to the courtroom and ensuring people’s cases are heard. As a judge hearing family law matters, Lindsey draws from her background as a former family law attorney, as well as a former prosecutor in the crimes against children and juvenile divisions. Judge Wynne served for many years as an advocate to protect, educate, and rehabilitate children, and now, as a Judge, she seeks to uphold the law and ensure children’s best interests are the priority in her courtroom.
Ann Zadeh represents District 9 on the Fort Worth City Council, a position she has held for the past six years. When she first secured her position, Ann was a first-time candidate—never having run for any leadership position before. In fact, Ann was always politically engaged but never imagined running for office. She did not consider serving as an elected official until she was asked to run for office. On average, women are asked seven times to run for office before finally deciding to run. By the time Ann filed to serve, she had led a successful career as a city planning consultant and a member of Fort Worth’s Planning & Zoning Commission and Urban Design Commission. To say the least, Ann was extremely qualified to serve as a city councilwoman—residents are thankful someone asked.
Genevieve Collins is a native Dallasite running for United States Congress in Congressional District 32. A few weeks ago, she faced off against four other men in the primary election—Genevieve came out victoriously with 22,500 votes, securing the nomination without a runoff election. But that isn’t the most impressive part: Genevieve is a first-time candidate running for public office (or any leadership position for that matter). She crunched her own data, wrote her own policy, and mapped her own path to victory. It is Genevieve’s priority to run her campaign like a business, with independence and authenticity. She compares herself to the captain of a ship, saying “if you are the captain of the ship, you are going to wade into turbulent waters if you don’t know where to go.” Genevieve is the captain of her victory.