Sima Ladjevardian in Vogue: The Female Candidates Who May Turn Texas Blue This November
HOUSTON, Texas -- On Friday, Vogue released an extensive profile featuring TX-02 Democratic nominee Sima Ladjevardian, her compelling personal story, and her campaign’s unprecedented momentum.
Click here for the full article, and see below for some key points.
By Luisita Lopez Torregrosa
August 21, 2020
A fearless, soft-spoken lawyer, immigrant and activist, she decided to run for Congress last December to challenge a freshman congressman, former Navy Seal and ardent Trump supporter.
“I thought I am the person who can take this guy out,” she tells me on the phone from her home in Houston. “What kind of example would I be to my children, to my friends, to my country, if I didn’t take him on.”
“I believe in this nation because this nation believed in me, and I feel a sense of duty to protect it,” Ladjevardian (pronounced LAHJ-ee-VAR-DEE-un) says. “That’s why I’m running for Congress in this existential moment – the American dream I found here is in jeopardy and my neighbors are suffering.”
Struggle, fear and loss are not new to her. Her family had to escape from Iran in November 1978 shortly before the revolution. “As a little girl surrounded by chaos and violence,’’ she says, “America was the beacon of hope on the horizon. I kept hoping the Americans would come and save us.”
Sima was 12, in fifth grade, when the ground in the classroom in the private school she attended in Tehran began to shake. The noise of gunshots reverberated in the air. Chaos was breaking out everywhere. But she made it out safely. At home, her mother had started packing for a “weekend trip” but Sima feared they might not return.
“My mother was in shock. I became the de facto parent, taking care of my brother. It was very scary.” After two years in Paris, they were able to leave for the United States on a business visa. They settled in Carmel, California, where relatives had a real estate business. She learned English while attending high school and, because she was Iranian and had a thick accent, felt prejudice first-hand. But she didn’t let that deter her. She wanted to study international law, enrolled at UCLA and went on to UC Hastings Law School, in Berkeley, where the vice presidential nominee is an alumna.
“I’m so happy Kamala Harris is the pick for vice president,” Ladjevardian says. “We actually graduated in the same class from UC Hastings, and it’s amazing to me that our paths are intertwining again in this pivotal moment for our nation. In some ways, it feels prophetic.”
After finishing law school, she married Masoud Ladjevardian, a Houston businessman, and moved to Texas. “He had told me Houston was beautiful, with palm trees. When I got here, I asked, what happened to the palm trees?” She has lived in Houston 30 years, worked at a law firm a few years and raised her son, Dara, and daughter, Atissa.
In 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 38. Her children were in fifth and third grade. She did not tell them she had cancer, kept it secret through all her treatments and hospital visits. The children thought she had some other health problem, she says. She didn’t tell them for several years and now wonders if she did the right thing. “I just wanted to protect them.”
Another shock jolted her when Dara tried to commit suicide. In seventh grade, he had become a target of taunts and bullies in school. “He was depressed, tried to kill himself…Took pills.” Dara recovered and was elected president of his eighth-grade class.
But that “made me realize I had to reach out, I had to educate people about who we are.” She threw herself into community organizing, fundraising for nonprofits, working for Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign. “I was at the Javits Center that night of the election and when we found out she had lost, I had flashbacks to all the disappointments in my life.”
By 2018 she was a well-known political insider as Beto O’Rourke’s advisor and fundraiser in his race against Senator Ted Cruz. He almost won, a feat at that time in Texas, and in 2019 Ladjevardian joined his brief presidential campaign. When Ladjevardian, who is 54, jumped into the race against Republican Dan Crenshaw, she was prepared.
“I feel very good about the race,” she says. Her campaign has picked up momentum lately. The coronavirus outbreak and the Black Lives Matter protests, which she supports, highlighted her issues, health care and racial and ethnic justice, and heightened her profile among minority and immigrant voters who make up 39 percent of her district.
Sounding confident, Sima Ladjevardian says that MJ Hegar and Valenzuela and “the whole movement in Texas, the wave of energy, excitement, and hope led by many strong, passionate women, will push Texas closer and closer to its inevitable flip.’’
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Sima Ladjevardian (SEE-ma LAHJ-ee-VAR-DEE-un) is a lawyer, a mother of two, a breast cancer survivor, and a political activist who has called Houston home for more than 30 years. After fleeing the political upheaval of the Iranian Revolution, her family immigrated to the United States for their shot at the American Dream. Eventually settling in Houston, Sima has become a local leader in cross-cultural dialogue, bringing Texans of all backgrounds and faiths together for social justice. As an activist, she has worked tirelessly to turn Texas blue and elect candidates up and down the ballot — all while serving senior roles in Beto O’Rourke's senate and presidential campaigns. She has been recognized by the University of Houston for her tireless philanthropic and nonprofit work in the community, and she is fueled by the desire to fight for quality, affordable health care, justice, and unity in the United States Congress.
Sima has been added to DCCC’s Red to Blue Program and endorsed by EMILY’s List, Congressional Black Caucus PAC, BOLD PAC, End Citizens United, Planned Parenthood, AFL-CIO, AAPI Victory Fund, AAA Fund, Emgage PAC, Giffords PAC, Brady PAC, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Human Rights Campaign, NewDems Action Fund, Texas American Federation of Teachers, President Barack Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, former US Senate/presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, former Sec. of HUD/presidential candidate Julían Castro, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, and Congresswoman Katie Porter.