MEET JULIE LYTHCOTT-HAIMS
Palo Alto City Councilmember
I believe in humans. I’m rooting for all of us to make it.
My family’s Palo Alto dream came true in 2000, when my partner Dan, my mother, and I combined our resources to purchase a house in Green Acres that was falling apart at the seams. We made these choices and sacrifices so that our kids could one day attend Palo Alto’s magnificent public schools. Twenty-two years later, our kids are proud graduates of Juana Briones, Fletcher, and Gunn. It’s been an absolute joy for me to see my kids spend their entire childhoods in this incredible community, because my family moved frequently when I was growing up. I am thrilled that I, too, have finally been able to put down roots, and that those roots now run deep through Palo Alto.
My career choices reflect a deep commitment to helping humans thrive. I went to law school to develop the analytical skills necessary to be discerning and persuasive about what is right and what is wrong, and to develop the guts to do something about it. In 1994, I began my professional career as an attorney at Palo Alto’s Cooley Godward LLP, and then became an in-house lawyer at Intel. In 1998, I became a Stanford administrator, where I worked with my teams to develop vision, strategy, policies, and programs to ensure that students from all backgrounds could make the most of the educational opportunities available to them. In 2012, I went back to school at California College of the Arts in San Francisco for an MFA degree in Writing. Since 2015, I’ve published three nonfiction books on human development, including How to Raise an Adult, Real American: A Memoir, and Your Turn: How to Be an Adult. My books have given me the opportunity to visit communities around the nation and the globe to thoughtfully discuss issues of parenting, race, and how humans thrive. It’s a privilege to travel for work, and traveling has only made me fall that much more in love with home.
Throughout my career, I’ve made it a priority to serve on nonprofit boards and advisory boards in order to support missions I believe in and to continue to grow my skills. Board service has helped me appreciate that a board’s purpose is to set vision for staff, ensure that staff’s policy, programmatic, and spending decisions are aligned with that vision, and to provide oversight to ensure that staff appropriately follow through on the various priorities that have been articulated. This is quite similar to the relationship between a city council and city staff.
I’ve worked for boards in myriad locales, including: Palo Alto (e.g. YWCA of the Mid-Peninsula; Palo Alto Community Fund; Partners in Education (PiE); Community Working Group; LeanIn.org); East Palo Alto (e.g. Foundation for a College Education); Stanford (e.g. Challenge Success; Haas Center for Public Service); San Francisco (Common Sense Media; Narrative Magazine); Oakland (Global Citizen Year); and Atlanta (Black Women’s Health Imperative). I continue to nourish my passion for undergraduate education by serving as a trustee for my alma mater, California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
I’m also an activist who speaks out when things aren’t right. Since I was a kid, I’ve stood on street corners and marched for what I believe in. I’ve walked in Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, marched on Sacramento for more funding for higher education, stood up against Apartheid in South Africa, protested national injustices by standing on street corners with placards and signs right here at home, and organized a “Caravan to Clint” that drew attention to the plight of migrant kids being kept in cages outside El Paso, Texas.
A highlight of my experiences as a volunteer and activist was helping elect and re-elect Barack Obama to the presidency by canvassing and getting out the vote for him in three states in 2007-08, representing Anna Eshoo’s congressional district as an elected Obama delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and co-leading the peninsula’s Democratic Volunteer Center (DVC) in Menlo Park in 2012.
I’ve had the privilege of higher education. I earned my BA in American Studies at Stanford, my JD at Harvard Law School, and my MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts. But none of that keeps me from being a real down-to-earth human. I identify as Black and biracial, queer and bisexual, a partner, a daughter, a mom. Dan Lythcott-Haims is the love of my life, and he and I have been together for more than thirty years. My mom Jeannie remains my biggest fan and most ardent supporter. She thanks you for reading this far.