Bethany Alhaidari, was born to a close-knit family in Seattle. Her family moved to Wenatchee when she was a child, and she graduated from Cashmere High School. She decided from a young age that her role in this life is to be curious about the world.
Alhaidari’s curiosity sprouted into passion when she started undergraduate studies in sociology at Central Washington University. Her tenacity for learning navigated her through her studies and into a life of travel. Alhaidari studied Middle Eastern & Islamic studies at American University in Paris. She earned a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law at the University of Galway in Ireland. She recently completed her Master of Laws at the University of Washington in Seattle.
She has explored worldwide cultures as both a teacher and student. She had opportunities to listen to journalists, activists, lawyers, professionals, and brilliant academics. She has worked as a case manager out of Washington DC, advocating for wrongfully detained prisoners and their freedom. She was also a Senior Fellow on human trafficking, where she sought innovative solutions to combat the worst of human rights violations. She learned from the impoverished and the most fortunate as they shared their stories of autocracies that often get forgotten in the shuffle of our loud world.
Preventing and finding justice for these autocracies was the core of what Alhaidari studied and has become the core of the future she believes in. She believes that people should not be suffering at the hand of preventable violence. Alhaidari experienced this suffering firsthand in an oppressive and patriarchal system. While residing in Saudi Arabia, Alhaidari went through a divorce and custody battle that did not award her equal legal rights, for simply being a woman. This discrimination ultimately left Alhaidari unable to leave the county. She was left silenced and without options. However bleak the outlook, Bethany faced these injustices head-on.
In 2019, the New York Times ran her story. It caught the attention of students, human rights activists, lawyers, and even the United Nations, who all advocated for Alhaidari. Through her bravery and determination, Alhaidari and her daughter were able to return safely to Seattle in December 2020. In her 2022 UW School of Law Commencement speech, Alhaidari said, “Washington State, because of the people, because of our community, because of the lawmakers, eventually became a haven of justice for me.”
As the new Executive Director, Alhaidari will make SAGE the same type of haven of justice for members of this community. By developing a culture of growth, she plans to elevate SAGE to a leader at the table for advancing social justice in Chelan and Douglas counties. She knows SAGE has an important role in helping people in crisis and believes it can do more. With experience and determination, Alhaidari plans to find ways SAGE can generate support and policies that prevent violence from happening in the first place.
Knowledge and a voice are the two most powerful tools to enact positive change in this world. Bethany Alhaidari has both.