Meet Amara Enyia
Amara is a 31 year old community activist, organizer, lawyer, PhD, Iron Man enthusiast, and polyglot with a passion for public policy. She is also running for Mayor, challenging incumbent Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 Chicago municipal elections. Amara got her start as a journalist. She earned a Masters degree in Education, law degree where she focused on international and environmental law, and a PhD in Educational Policy Studies. Amara knew she wanted to understand how policies are made at the top level of city government so that she could use her knowledge to serve Chicago’s most challenged communities. She worked in City Hall and, after gaining experience across several policy areas, went straight to the West Side of Chicago where she served as Executive Director of a non-profit organization and simultaneously worked full time in the manufacturing sector. Amara knew she would expand her work to other areas so she launched a municipal consulting firm to help municipalities in the Chicago metropolitan area address some of their most pressing challenges, particularly around economic development and workforce development. Her work has since expanded to neighborhoods around the city where she acts as a bridge-builder and advocate.
Where is your favorite place to travel to?
My favorite place to travel is any place I’ve never been. I have always cherished the feeling of being in an unfamiliar place, whether it’s a different neighborhood, different city, or different country. For me, there’s always been something both comforting and exciting about being in an unfamiliar setting. I take a lot of walks, runs, bike-rides and drives around Chicago because I’m always searching for some new enclave I’ve never seen or experienced. I spent years traveling from country to country for no particular reason other than to absorb the unfamiliar, learn as much as I could, and experience all of the mysteries of life.
What do you believe?
I believe that people around the world, no matter their race, ethnicity, geography or background, want the same things for the most part. The things that are similar are far greater than the differences amongst us. I believe that integrity is crucial and living a life true to who you are is the highest virtue. I believe in living a life of purpose and that the most important discovery an individual can make is to discover their purpose, and then to live it, unapologetically. I believe that the only limitations in our lives are the ones we put on ourselves. I believe in challenging myself – when there’s no peril in the fight, there’s no glory in the triumph. I believe that life passes very swiftly, therefore nothing should be taken for-granted. I believe there is value in every experience – good or bad. I believe that regret for the things we’ve done is tempered by time, but regret for the things we did not do, is inconsolable. I believe that one must always strive to do the right thing in every situation, but in difficult circumstances, do what you believe is right and you will have inner peace. I believe that one must stand on principles and let those principles guide your actions. I believe that leadership inspires others and that good leaders are able to translate their vision to people, who adopt that vision and actualize it. I believe that we are all interconnected and that we were all born with power. I believe that when we recognize our power as individuals and then collectively, we have the power to create and the power to transform.
What expression or saying do you love?
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
What is your hidden talent?
I’m a spoon carver. I learned how to carve spoons on a farm in Northern Vermont. When I got back home, I bought a carving knife, some sand paper, and started doing it on my own. Sometimes I give spoons away as gifts. I’m also a writer. I finished my first full-length novel a couple of years ago.
If you could fire anyone in the world, who would you fire?
I think we know the answer to that question. But just in case it needs to be said, Chicago’s current Mayor, Rahm Emanuel :-).
Photo Credit: Jamie Kelter Davis Photography