Nida Allam was recently elected to the Durham County Board of Commissioners, making her the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Nida Allam.
Nida Allam didn’t always see a place for herself in politics. But on Election Day, she was one of five women elected to the Durham County Board of Commissioners, making her the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina.
Allam is a graduate of N.C. State University where she studied sustainable materials and technology, planning to get a job in sustainable supply chains after graduating. But after her friends Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were killed in Chapel Hill in 2015, just months before her graduation, she decided to make the switch to politics.
Allam said she began looking at how the Muslim voice wasn't being heard or discussed in a way that was representative of Muslim Americans.
“That was also when the 2016 presidential campaigns were gearing up, and the Bernie Sanders campaign really resonated with me," Allam said. "He talked about Muslims as people who care about their neighbors and want to work for a better America, rather than in the stereotypical way Muslims are often talked about.”
Allam worked as a political director for the Sanders presidential campaign in 2016. In that role, she focused on reaching out to marginalized communities and educating residents on policies and issues.