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.
Jennifer Skidonenko is running for District 106 for the Texas House of Representatives, located near Northeast Denton county in North Texas. Though this is her first campaign for public office, this isn’t Jennifer’s first time working within the political sphere. In 2018, following the shooting at Parkland High School, Jennifer founded the local chapter of Moms Demand Action in Denton County, an organization that advocates for gun violence prevention—especially in schools. Prior to this, Jennifer volunteered on local political campaigns like Beto O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate race. Now, Jennifer is taking the reigns into her own hands—leading the way in her own campaign for office.
Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Berthiaume has been preparing for her political service her entire life--even if she wasn’t meaning to. Although her family’s homebase was Northern Virginia, her parents’ public service careers meant they traveled extensively throughout her childhood. Berthiaume was born in Okinawa, Japan and spent time in Panama and Poland growing up.
When Yolian Ogbu and Hillary Shah were finishing up their high school careers at Lone Star High School in Frisco, Texas, they each had several options to pursue their college careers, Yolian planning to double major in Political Science and Communications and Hillary in Political Science and Economics. Both chose to attend the University of North Texas, because it was affordable and close to family, but they also ended up with a home and a community. A Sophomore and Freshman respectively, Yolian and Hillary needed little time on campus to recognize the blatant shortcomings of the organization that is meant to maintain that home and community through student representation: The Student Government Association. With the help of their mentor, Misaki Collins, the duo launched a historic and dynamic run; Yolian for President and Hillary for Vice President.
Judge Kathy Gwinn is the Justice of the Peace (JP) for Precinct 3 of Hood County located in the small town of Granbury, Texas. In 2014, after making it through the Republican primaries, Gwinn won a runoff election with just over 60% of the vote. After serving her first four-year term, she was re-elected this year uncontested.
Honorable Lana Myers currently serves in Place 4 as a Justice for the 5th District Court of Appeals, covering a large portion of North Texas. Her journey as a conservative elected official has spanned for more than two decades, including terms on the 5th District Court of Appeals and the 203rd Judicial District Court, a criminal district court in Dallas County. Her passion for politics spurred in her childhood but did not avail to fruition until she began working for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor. As a candidate who has faced both an appointment and an election process, she recognizes the partisan and politically-charged challenges of becoming an elected official. Lana advises young women interested in pursuing office to “exude your own credibility.”
TEDx speaker, blogger, and lifelong educator Suzanne Smith is running for Texas State Board of Education District 12, encompassing parts of Collin County and Northeast Dallas County. For Smith, this is her dream job, providing her an ability to be exposed to the world that she accredits much of her success to: public school education. Smith eventually became a teacher herself, following a family lineage of teachers and school administrators. Now, she is vying for an opportunity to serve students within the State of Texas through the capacity of an elected official, where she can transform public education spending.