THRIVE is an AIWA-SF April project dedicated to highlighting Armenians who are doing amazing things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature Alex Bastian. @AlexBastianSF
Alex Bastian is the Deputy Chief of Staff and an Assistant District Attorney for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Alex has been an active member of the State Bar of California and a practicing attorney for nearly a decade, beginning his career in civil litigation before developing his skills as a highly reputed, respected, and successful prosecutor for the City and County of San Francisco over the past 9 years. Having previously served as an Assistant District Attorney, the Director of Communications, and now the current Deputy Chief of Staff, Alex has and continues to wear many hats within the SFDA’s Office as a dedicated public servant.
Alex was hired as a prosecutor by then-District Attorney Kamala Harris. His success in the courtroom as a litigator and finesse for reaching common sense resolutions in the interests of public safety has served him well for his current role: advising District Attorney George Gascón on key policy, strategy, and legal matters. Alex’s portfolio of work includes criminal justice and immigration reform, improving transparency and public access to the legal system, fostering greater trust in 21st century law enforcement practices, and increasing consumer rights through innovative educational and safety campaigns. Alex has played key roles in facilitating the office’s implementation of first-of- their kind actions, including working with media and legislative partners to generate the momentum needed to pass the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act that has led to sizable reductions in smartphone thefts and laid the blueprint for similar efforts worldwide. He has tackled important regulatory and compliance issues by working to bring the first consumer action by a government office against Uber, but has also spearheaded efforts to cooperate with the company on other public safety endeavors. Most recently, he contributed to shaping the country’s first office-level policy to proactively review, reclassify, or dismiss all marijuana related convictions for impacted individuals under the landmark voter initiative Proposition 64. Alex is the first Armenian-American prosecutor in San Francisco and is a visible proponent of diversity and inclusion. Utilizing his personal and familial experiences, Alex is committed to combating racism and discrimination by improving transparency and accountability in our policies and practices and increasing diversity within the legal profession, especially in public interest law. His most recent op-ed, featured in The New York Times, provides his personal account of being racially profiled and unlawfully detained at San Francisco International Airport and the negative impact of such practices on public safety. Alex has been published, both locally and nationally, on topics discussing gentrification, human rights, history revision, and genocide. Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. He also speaks five languages, including English, Spanish, Armenian, French, and Russian, he’s also working on learning Arabic and is semi-proficient. He often appears in both local, national, and international media outlets, including as a representative for the SFDA’s Office in high profile matters. Alex is a native San Franciscan and remains committed to finding innovative and equitable ways to improving the legal system.
Question: What is your life philosophy?
I try to keep it simple. I believe in hard work, loyalty and doing what you believe is right.
Question: What is your hope for the future?
I hope for a future that embraces justice, equality and peace for all people.
Question: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian?
The Armenian spirit.
As Armenians, we have overcome all odds to be here today. Not only to survive, but to thrive. We know first-hand that injustice and suppression can continue for centuries. And yet, we find a way to achieve and accomplish even though we are the underdog in just about every scenario.
Question: How has the Armenian culture influenced you?
In many ways.
First, I believe that it fuels me with passion for my work every day. Let me explain… Justice is a very important concept for us, particularly due to the injustice Armenian people have experienced. As a result, I find myself constantly contemplating how to bring about a more just outcome in the work that I do every day.
Second, I believe our culture has always emphasized on me the importance of friendship, community and family.
And finally, I believe our culture has always shaped me to think globally and to see all people as members of our broader family.
No matter where I am or what I do, please know that I always try my best to be a positive reflection of our community and culture.
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