Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Reem Subei
Reem Subei is a Civil Rights Attorney who dedicates her life to analyzing the legal system, identifying what works and what doesn’t, and working toward a legal and economic system that puts people first. Because of this work, Reem is uniquely qualified to serve as an Ohio State Senator. Reem believes that all Ohioans deserve a system that delivers justice, healthcare (including women), and employment with a living wage.
Meet the Candidate: Reem Subei
1. In your interview with the Endorsement Committee, you shared a personal life experience that led you to the decision to run for office? Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
My journey into advocacy started when I was a teenager. My mother’s friend came over one day and told us about her abusive husband. I was in the next room over as I listened to her talk about her struggle and her hope that the prosecutor would hold her abuser accountable. A few weeks later she came over and told us that the prosecutor chose to let her abusive partner off the hook. I felt powerless and scared. I remember that day very distinctly- it was the day I swore that I would grow up to be able to do something for people who are unserved by the system. I studied hard and went to law school and the very first case I went to trial for was for a woman whose relationship with her child was being threatened. We won that trial and helped serve justice to this woman. From there on I went to doing more advocacy work alongside community groups who want to bring about justice and equality for all.
2. Many of you cited a family member whose strength was an inspiration to you. Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
Growing up I watched my parents give their time and energy to building community and collaborating with people. I never thought there was any other way to live, and I am grateful for that. We are all in this universe together; our collective success is greatest success.
3. Some of you are teachers, some businesspeople, some professionals, some homemakers, how has your career and life experiences shaped who you are as a person and a leader?
As an civil rights attorney, my day to day activities involve analyzing existing laws, assessing what works and what doesn’t.
After graduating from the University of Toledo College of Law in 2014, I struggled to find a job. The effects of the Great Recession were still being felt, and jobs for new graduates were rare. Lawyers were being laid off, not hired. Fortunately, I found a job at a civil rights organization in Michigan, but the pay was modest. So, I picked up a few extra jobs, working as a mediator, a guardian ad litem or CASA, and a court appointed attorney in Ohio.
Eventually I worked my way up to be able to take on more advocacy work. I represented parents and children caught up in the opioid crisis. I watched firsthand how Big Pharma’s greed and the failure of our legislature to act was tearing families apart and removing children from their homes.
Now I work with community groups who are trying to shift power through collective action and strategic campaigns. Together we seek to change structural inequality and to give power back to people instead of corporations. I have dedicated my life to advocating equitable access to education, housing, and economic development for families, children, and all people in Ohio.
I feel so fortunate to wake up everyday and advocate for working families. I’ve been blessed in my life to have the love and support of my family and local community to get me through the good and the bad. Through them, I have learned that we all win when we come together and stand up for each other, and those values continue to guide me.
4. The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for your community in 2028?
I envision a future where the tools for success are within the reach of every member of my community. As women rise to take on elected office, they will bring with them voices of the diverse communities from which they come and help us all learn that we are stronger when we stand up for each other. Together we’ll find solutions to the issues that hold us back – like access to affordable healthcare and public schools that serve all of our children, regardless of their zip code.
5. Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or state face today?
If I had to pick two issues, they would be education and healthcare.
It’s time to put Ohioans first, not corporations. Even as our economy seems to thrive, too many Ohioans are still only barely getting by. Whether they’re held back by low wages, student loans, lack of affordable housing, or struggling to access basic health care, for too long our representatives have overlooked these struggles. This level of inequality leaves our economy vulnerable and limits our potential as a state. Investing in our future means pursuing policies that educate our children, bring back a living wage, and protect access to affordable healthcare for every Ohioan.
6. Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, a funny pet story, something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.
In my extremely limited free time, I sing Disney songs, teach myself the piano, and learn how to read sheet music. When I’m traveling, I’m usually walking the airport singing A Whole New World. A Whole New World is also my cellphone ringtone. Oh, and my Ted Talk slightly subtly mentions the song by talking about building “a whole new world.” You can find my Ted Talk on my website: https://www.reemsubei.com/about