Ann Zadeh: Asked to serve
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.
Ann grew up in Northern California in a Quaker community. Her family lived in the community because her parents were faculty members at the local Quaker boarding school. When asked about her exposure to politics, Ann believes her time spent in the Quaker community expanded her concept of public participation. She remembers this community focusing on voter engagement, agricultural sustenance, and public participation. “This was the impetus,” Ann said.
Ann discovered an innate passion for urban design and planning. She went on to attend the University of California at Santa Cruz where Ann received a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in policy and planning. She continued her education at the University of Texas at Arlington where she eventually received her Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning. During her graduate studies, Ann began a career as a city planning consultant for smaller cities surrounding the Fort Worth region. She quickly fell in love with her profession. Eventually, Ann used her city planning experience to secure an appointment to Fort Worth’s Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the Urban Design Commission.
Over time, others started to notice Ann’s dedication to her local region—both in her career and her community service. People began asking Ann to run for office. While Ann prided herself on voting regularly, she never expected to pursue a career in politics. She was asked multiple times before Ann found an opportunity: an open seat in District 9 of Fort Worth City Council. Ann knew she would follow in the footsteps of beloved District 9 councilmembers before her like Wendy Davis and Joel Burns. She competed in an election against five other candidates, secured enough votes to reach the runoff election, and victoriously ended her campaign—earning the title of city councilmember.
As a councilmember, Ann prioritizes comprehensive urban development and public transit in Fort Worth. She prides herself on spearheading the public transportation expansion in the city that has given people greater accessibility to Fort Worth and surrounding regions. Ann’s goal for Fort Worth is to create an environment where everyone can live, work, and play in the same vicinity. She believes Fort Worth’s success stems from the strong relationship between the city’s government, corporations, and non-profits. The public-private partnerships have given the city an opportunity to grow.
As a full-time councilmember, Ann recognizes the importance of “unplugging” every now and then. After starting a family, Ann was fortunate enough to break from her career to raise her children. Now that her children are older, Ann has dedicated her time to serving as a councilmember. When Ann first ran for office, her sons joked that it was glorious to have their mom “otherwise occupied.” Ann admits that balance is hard to attain. She says, “[elected office] is consuming at times.” While serving in local office, Ann knows that it can be difficult to simply leave her home without seeing or hearing about issues in the community that she decides on. To occasionally unplug, Ann will mediate, do yoga, or take a trip out of town.
Thankful that others encouraged her to seek her potential in politics, Ann encourages others to find their roles by becoming involved in their community. She leans on politically-engaged women in the community for support and guidance, receiving advice from a mixture of elected officials, behind-the-scenes folks, and community leaders. Finding this additional support outlet has helped Ann continue to refine her work-life balance.
As a local official, Ann has been on the forefront of the COVID-19 outbreak. In a city council-manager form of government, Ann believes it is critical to heed the advice of experts on the administrative side of this structure. She believes her role as an elected official is to be the liaison between the experts and the community—absorbing information and communicating it clearly to constituents.
To learn more about Councilmember Zadeh, visit her website here: https://annzadeh.com/