Every year, Alexandra Sims (BS10) and her family travel to the Buckingham, Va., plantation where, several generations ago, her relatives toiled as slaves.
“It’s an important reminder of where I came from,” Sims said of the pilgrimage, which can include up to 300 cousins, aunts and uncles.
The trips helped the 28-year-old Sims, a senior adviser to Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, realize the difference an education can make in the life of a young African-American like herself. Using her past as inspiration, she first threw herself into grassroots organizing and politics before segueing into her job with Summers as director of inter-governmental affairs and programs.
“Around age 13, I realized my life was not like my cousins’,” said Sims, whose grandfather was the first in his family to go to college and whose father is an executive at Ford Motor Co. in Detroit.
Inspired by former President Barack Obama’s education policies, Sims headed his 2012 campaign’s Missouri region re-election effort after receiving her degree in social policy. That’s when she more fully recognized the importance of voting rights, which led to a job as executive director of a group that promoted voting equality.
But then another transition loomed. Realizing that “economic equality is everything,” Sims took a position as a campaign manager for Summers’ 2015 campaign for city treasurer. She believed the candidate had the right combination of investment smarts and compassion for underserved communities.
In the two years with Summers, the office has not only doubled the city’s revenue through savvy investments but pushed for a transparency- in-lending policy 30 years in the making, Sims said.
Under the new ordinance, neighborhood banks must reveal to the treasurer’s office whether they are investing in local small businesses and homeowners. The loans, Sims said, boost a community’s stability and economic health.
Despite the accomplishments, Sims recently said she felt she was ready for another transition.
And in March, Sims launched APS & Associates, a public affairs consulting firm with clients that include JB for Governor and the Chicago Black Caucus.
“I want to help the black community leverage our power,” she told Laura Washington in the Chicago Sun-Times. “Until we have economic power, we need to use the power we have — in votes and numbers.”