Kshama Sawant is a Seattle City Council member and an economics professor known for her political activism. Leading the call for a $15/hour minimum wage for her constituents, Ms. Sawant focuses her considerable energies on combating inequality and oppression. She is also a tireless advocate for social justice causes, particularly relating to women’s, LGBT, and education issues.
She moved from Mumbai in the 1990’s and was shocked at the level of poverty she witnessed amidst the wealth of the United States — although she had moved to the U.S. as a computer engineer, she abandoned the field to focus on answering her own “questions of economic inequality.” Ms. Sawant pursued and earned a PhD in economics from the University of North Carolina, writing a dissertation entitled Elderly Labor Supply in a Rural, Less Developed Economy. After hearing a speech by a Socialist Alternative organizer in 2006 in Seattle. She became a U.S. citizen in 2010, and was elected to her Seattle City Council position in 2014. She is Seattle’s first socialist elected official since 1916.
In the words of one of the HLS community members who nominated Ms. Sawant, “Her commitment to ending poverty wages and her commitment to ‘transit justice’ is an inspiration to my own ideas of public service. She reminds me that all public servants are just that.”