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PLP 2010 Profile: Atima Omara-Alwala
Name: Atima Omara-Alwala
Born: Providence, Rhode Island
Current Digs: Arlington, Virginia by way of the Metro Richmond area where I grew up.
Occupation: Field Director for Jim Moran for Congress
Favorite part about the job? Learning a lot about the 8th Congressional District and its politics, history and personalities.
Your first job ever? Burger King. I was an occasional cashier, but primarily burger king sandwich maker.
Favorite book: "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison.
Favorite movie: "The Godfather" (1 and 2)
Comfort food? Pasta. It can be with meat sauce, pesto, or alfredo sauce. I love Pasta–that and chocolate.
What's in your car CD player right now? Madonna’s "Celebration" album. Pretty much anything from Madonna in the last 20 years I have on rotation in my CD player, plus Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, and the Goo Goo Dolls.
Next journey? Puerto Rico
Favorite Virginia vacation spot? Charlottesville-Albermarle area, particularly in the fall. I went to U.Va. for college, and my first campaign job was in the area. Charlottesville-Albemarle and the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains showcase some of the best Virginia has to offer when it comes to its natural surroundings, all year long.
First political memory? My school's mock presidential election of 1988.
Whom do you admire and why: Nelson Mandela. As the daughter of two African immigrants, Mandela’s contributions to his nation, South Africa, and to black suffrage and empowerment across the continent of Africa, were impressed upon me from an early age. He was jailed for 27 years by the opposition, and when he left prison he was not bitter against those who imprisoned him. After negotiating peace, democracy, and suffrage for black Africans, he was elected to serve as South Africa’s first democratically-elected president. Then when he had a chance to be “president for life,” he stepped aside for the good of his nation. To this day, I still tear up remembering the lines that literally stretched across South Africa, as black Africans got up at dawn to walk several miles from their remote villages to cast their first vote. His commitment to his country at the risk of his quality of life reflects that of a true public servant.
Best advice you ever got: "Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. When you stumble, keep faith. When you’re knocked down, get right back up. And never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on." –Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Hillary Clinton, hands down. Not only is she an icon of women’s political power, but she’s been through quite a bit of personal and professional ups and downs in the spotlight that would’ve taken down most people. She made it the farthest of any woman in her pursuit of the US Presidency. Say what you will about her, but that takes a certain level of steel not often seen in American politics (from men or women). I would love to hear her stories and draw from her wisdom.
Describe a perfect day: I sleep until 9 or 10am. After that I would enjoy a morning jog (the weather would be in the high 60s, low 70s) and have breakfast with friends. I would visit a museum or go hiking, certainly see the latest movie out in theaters and end the day chatting with friends about politics and pop culture over drinks and a great meal.
One thing most people might be surprised to learn about you? I have what has been described as an "incredibly random encyclopedic knowledge" of classic American film before 1980.
Ambition, political or otherwise? I haven’t decided whether I will run for local office, but my goal is to encourage more women in Virginia to consider running for higher office through training, mentoring and, if need be, working on their campaigns.