Welcome to the UI Alumni Network

Three-time UI graduate running for mayor of Chicago

By all conventional wisdom, Amara Enyia hasn't a chance of getting elected mayor, so she shouldn't even try.

I mean, let's see—she's a 31-year-old urban-affairs consultant, currently employed by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, who lives in Garfield Park, and has never run for office, much less served. Plus she has a hard-to-pronounce name that virtually no one, outside of friends and family, has heard of.

At the moment she has all of $650 in her campaign treasure chest. In contrast, Mayor Emanuel has more than $7 million.

After she let it be known that she was thinking of running against Mayor Emanuel, no less an authority than former alderman and UIC political science professor Dick Simpson told the Huffington Post that "she has no chance" and "she is not a viable candidate."

Hard to argue with that.

So this is where I should, like Simpson, tell her to take a reality pill and run for something a little lower on the political food chain—like alderman.

But you know me—I love an underdog.

So what the hell: Run, Amara, run! And here's hoping that many others will join the race.

She certainly has a compelling backstory that separates her from the crowd.

Her parents—Samuel and Irene—were born and raised in Nigeria. Her father fought for Biafra in the Nigerian Civil War.

They moved to the United States in the 1970s. Her father got a PhD and currently teaches in the communications department at Lewis University. Her mother is a clinical psychologist. They raised Amara and her five siblings in University Park, a south suburb.

Obviously, she's one of those high-functioning high achievers.

In 2001 she graduated from Crete-Monee High School, where she played basketball and soccer and ran track.

She went to the University of Illinois at Champaign where she majored in broadcast journalism and was editor in chief of the school newspaper.

Then she got a PhD in educational policy. And then she graduated from Champaign's law school. And then she learned to fly a jet plane—just kidding.

What else . . .

She speaks Igbo, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English.

She runs about seven miles a day. She's participated in two Ironman competitions—those superinsane triathlons where you swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a marathon.

C'mon, Mayor Emanuel, I know even you—as a triathlete—have got to be impressed with that.

Like Mayor E, she got her start in politics with Mayor Daley. Which I don't hold against either one of them—OK, well, maybe a little.

In Emanuel's case, he was a fund-raiser for the mayor. As for Enyia, Mayor Daley hired her as a policy analyst in 2009.

She swears up and down that she quietly opposed his Olympic plan and secretly cheered when Brazil won the games.

If you say so . . .

Read more at Chicago Reader.

Share this story with other alumni and friends

 Facebook          LinkedIn


The University of Illinois Alumni Association is dedicated to connecting alumni and friends to positively impact the University of Illinois, its alumni, and its students.  Visit http://uiaa.org/illinois/membership/make_gift.html and support our work in connecting one global alumni family.




© Copyright UI Alumni Network, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Alumni Development Software