My name is Elizabeth Householder, but you can call me Ellie.
I was born and raised in Antioch, California in the far-far East Bay (I will definitely contend that YES Antioch is still considered “the Bay”). I am a “child of the Great Recession.” That is to say, my formative years as a young person were spent in the midst of one of the worst economic recessions since the 1920s. My working-class family was hit hard from the recession and lost our family home to foreclosure. This experience shaped a large part of my identity and passions in life.
During the height of the economic downturn, I decided to go to Prospects Continuation High School in order to graduate early at the age of 16. I then enrolled in community college in hopes of creating a better life for my family and ultimately my community. Navigating higher education in a time when public schools and institutions were struggling to provide basic services was challenging to say the least – being a first-generation college student from a low-income background did not make this any easier. Even though the barriers to education and economic vitality were daunting, I was motivated by the belief that our institutions were not working for all members of our society and needed to be fixed.
I went on to graduate from De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California with two Associates Degrees in Paralegal Studies and Liberal Arts. During my time, I worked and volunteered for multiple organizations focused on community engagement, specifically working on issues surrounding climate justice and local politics. I then transferred to the University of California, Berkeley where I received a Bachelors Degree with Honors in American Studies, with an emphasis on Politics, Policy, and Justice.
As an undergraduate, I was made painfully aware of the lack of understanding in academia on the lived experiences of folks in poverty. I took this as an opportunity to uplift the voices of my community, which manifested itself in my activism and research. I participated and organized multiple non-violent direction action demonstrations on topics ranging from tuition hikes, fossil fuel disinvestment, and Black Lives Matter. In addition to direct participation on issues affecting low-income communities, I also conducted research on these problems. My undergraduate Honors Senior Thesis was on Bay Area Hip Hop genera called the “Hyphy Movement.” Rather than rely solely on quantitative data to understand the social and political inequities of impoverished communities and communities of color face, I used the Hyphy Movement as a qualitative data set to understand the social and economic landscape of the Bay Area in the years leading up to the Great Recession of 2008. Making academia and public policy relevant and accessible to everyone is something I have continuously strived towards in my own academic and professional career.
Since graduating in 2016, I have continued to try to bridge the gap. I worked as an Educational Consultant with the Antioch Unified School District, researching new and innovative ways to meet the needs of our diverse student population. I have participated in local, county-wide, and state-wide committees, focused on delivering public services, having held a Vice Chair seat for the Antioch Tax Citizen Oversight Committee, which aimed to increase safety in Antioch. I was also recently elected to serve as an Assembly District 11 Delegate to the California Democratic Party, which allows me to advocate for progressive and equitable policies at the state level.
In the Fall of 2018, I began a new journey. I became a student again, working on my Master’s Degree in Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, I was elected as the youngest member to the Antioch Unified School District Board of Education in November 2018, and began a Graduate Student Instructor teaching position with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. These new developments are a continuance of my desire to make our political system work for all people, not just the wealthy and the privileged.
Through this journey, I have come to understand that poverty alleviation is my primary motivational driver – I know through research and experience things can, and should, be a lot better in our communities, especially for the most at-need members of our society. Although my journey started with a motivation to “fix” the broken social safety net, I know now that change cannot occur without persistence. On this site, you will find that very persistence in the form of my past work and a current ongoing blog. My topics range from current politics to general insights about what it is like growing up as a low-income, first-generation, UC Berkeley/community college, hyphy/punk-rock enthusiast with the ultimate goal of ensuring equitable access to opportunities regardless of background. I hope you find my perspective refreshing as I tackle issues related to representation and social justice, and how we can work together to create a more just and equitable society.