Recently we spoke with Shirin Lotfi! Shirin has many passions: politics, music, mountaineering, and more. She is a true explorer at heart—read the full blog to hear all about Shirin’s next adventure!
Hannah: What brought you to the DMV?
Shirin: I originally moved here to work on Bloomberg’s presidential campaign for the 2020 election. That’s what I did, and I ended up staying in DC!
Hannah: How did you start working in politics?
Shirin: I studied political science and was also very active in politics and international affairs in school. I have a Middle Eastern background—I’m originally from Iran. So I grew up half in Iran and half in the United States. Having that background, I got exposed to all sorts of conversations and societal issues, and I couldn’t help but get more involved. I’ve worked with several US senators and had a chance to work in different organizations and governments while getting my masters in Israel.
Hannah: What are you doing for work now?
Shirin: I love working in politics but realized I don’t have to work directly in politics to be involved in societal change. So I pivoted into tech. The tech company I currently work for is actively engaged with legal, congressional and government affairs executives. It’s my perfect combination of business, government, and technology and I’m still in politics and public policy but from a different angle.
Hannah: Could you describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?
Shirin: I would wake up and go for an early morning run around the National Mall and the Tidal Basin. I would follow that with either a breakfast/brunch at the Tabard Inn in Dupont. It’s a great historic hidden gem in DC. Then I would go to the National Gallery of Art or the National Portrait Gallery since they have some of the nicest outdoor gardens. The breadth and variety of cultural activities this city has to offer is one of the reasons I love DC so much. I just can’t get enough of the amazing exhibitions and cultural events. Then, I would see some friends for a walk in the historic parts of the DC area and maybe the Georgetown waterfront. We would sit and do nothing and talk about how tragic yet comical life is. Then I would end the day by going to a classical concert or a ballet at the Kennedy Center. Ideally, I would also have gotten a private tour of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. I’ve heard some stories, and I’d love someone to share all the secrets of the building and show me all the cool historical elements.
Hannah: What is something that you do to relax or for fun at the end of the week?
Shirin: I like to read, and play my saxophone, and I’ve recently been getting back into painting. I like to listen to loud music, either an opera or a classical piece, because I grew up in that household, and I would get lost in the music and my painting.
Hannah: What is one thing that you can’t get through the day without?
Shirin: Watching something funny! In the past year, I have made it a habit where I can’t go without a day of making myself laugh at least once. So whether it’s a meme or an episode of a sitcom, I watch something that will make me laugh.
Hannah: How do you connect with your Jewish identity and or Jewish community?
Shirin: Jewish humor is a big way that I bond with the community. I also really like the tradition of Shabbat. When I was in grad school, I started adopting Shabbat into my life. For me, it’s less about religious observance and more about having a healthy tradition. I love to have dinners, meet with friends and unwind. I try to be away from my phone and computer and go out into nature.
Hannah: What’s something you’re excited to do this year?
Shirin: I plan on hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest mountain in Africa. It’s my first step in hiking the Seven Summits, which is when you climb the tallest peak in every continent. I always think that if I’m lucky and fortunate enough to get old and have a big family, I want to have good stories to share.
Hannah: If time and money were no object what would you be doing right now?
Shirin: I love that question. I think I would travel to all 251 countries and territories, live with locals and hear their stories. I would pick up a lot of seasonal jobs around the world. For example, I’d go to Brazil or maybe Peru and help locals out in the Amazon forest for a little bit. Then I would go to Colombia and be a fisherman in Taganga. Every country and region has something extremely unique to offer and I like to experience that. I just want to explore and learn as much about Earth and civilizations as humanly possible.
Hannah: Last question! When the Jews of DC gather…
Shirin: Everyone leaves with trivia plans!
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