Shahid's History

Shahid has been building social movements and speaking truth to power for two decades.

Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2003, Shahid has worked in both San Francisco and Washington as a legal advocate, a non-profit leader, a grassroots organizer, and a poet & musician.

His wide-ranging work finds inspiration in his commitments to international human rights, intersectional feminism, and communities marginalized by the continuing reflections of colonialism. His passions have long aligned around a common purpose: building the movement to put people before profit and communities before corporations.

Those commitments are rooted in his own experience. An immigrant from the U.K. whose family lost a home to foreclosure in his teens, he struggled to pay for his education, spending a decade going to college mostly at night while working full-time to earn his BA, summa cum laude, from Loyola University Chicago in 2000. His time in Chicago offered opportunities to observe police corruption, political corruption, and the corruption of capital markets by the precursors of the 2008 financial crisis.

Shahid was among our country’s first advocates for marriage equality for LGBTQ couples. He organized and served on the legal team that represented Jason West, the Mayor of New Paltz, NY starting in 2004.

Since 2008, he has also been a leader in the movement to end warrantless government surveillance, From 2015-2019, Shahid built a national grassroots network for the Electronic Frontier Foundation as the organization’s Director of Grassroots Advocacy, and worked across the U.S. to enable our country’s first local restrictions on the domestic surveillance in cities including San Francisco. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee from 2009-2015 after launching the program at Muslim Advocates to challenge racial and religious profiling in 2008.

In addition to LGBTQ rights, privacy, and the right to encryption, Shahid’s work as a public interest advocate has also advanced immigrant rights, campaign finance reform, government transparency, international human rights, and police accountability. His writing has explored issues from the right-wing attack on reproductive freedom to the erosion of voting rights, and from effective counter-terrorism strategies to examples of counter-cultural activism promoting progressive politics at the intersection of art and organizing.

An immigrant of Pakistani descent from the United Kingdom and the youngest of four children, Shahid grew up in the midwest and first came to the Bay Area in 2000 to study law at Stanford.

While a student at Stanford Law School, he served as Executive Editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal and professor Lawrence Lessig’s teaching assistant for Constitutional Law. He also spear-headed a campaign to promote sustainable building practices by the university, a day of action to shut down a Lockheed Martin facility, and a student strike against the war in Iraq.

After growing immersed in the movement to end the war, Shahid moved to Washington to work for Heller Ehrman LLP, a San Francisco-based law firm that later collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. His work there included litigation championing the right to marry the partner of one’s choice—nearly 10 years before the Democratic establishment finally embraced marriage equality—and an appeal defending bipartisan campaign finance reform from being undermined by the Federal Election Commission.

An immigrant of Pakistani descent from the United Kingdom and the youngest of four children, Shahid grew up in the midwest and first came to the Bay Area in 2000 to study law at Stanford.

While a student at Stanford Law School, he served as Executive Editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal and professor Lawrence Lessig’s teaching assistant for Constitutional Law. He also spear-headed a campaign to promote sustainable building practices by the university, a day of action to shut down a Lockheed Martin facility, and a student strike against the war in Iraq.

After growing immersed in the movement to end the war, Shahid moved to Washington to work for Heller Ehrman LLP, a San Francisco-based law firm that later collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. His work there included litigation championing the right to marry the partner of one’s choice—nearly 10 years before the Democratic establishment finally embraced marriage equality—and an appeal defending bipartisan campaign finance reform from being undermined by the Federal Election Commission.

Through his work building movements for peace, immigrant rights, black lives, and the Occupy movement, Shahid dedicated his career to public service long before he sought public office.

  • As a national non-profit leader, he built a national progressive legal network at the American Constitution Society while in Washington to help correct the conservative bias increasingly pervading the federal courts.
  • He later founded a program at Muslim Advocates here in San Francisco to challenge racial & religious profiling by federal agencies such as the FBI, whose abuses of constitutional rights to dissent span nearly a century.
  • For six years, he led the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (now known as Defending Rights and Dissent) as its Executive Director. The organization was founded in response to the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act to help everyday Americans in hundreds of communities across the country fight at the local level for their constitutional rights.
  • Since joining the SF-based Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2015, Shahid envisioned and launched a national grassroots network, represented the organization in the media and at public events from coast-to-coast, and frequently wrote for public audiences to explain the implications of EFF’s commitment to digital rights for policy issues from mass surveillance and encryption to net neutrality and restrictions on police.

Outside of his work as an advocate and organizer, Shahid performs as a DJ, MC, and poet. He also organizes artists, and has co-founded several collectives of politicized performance artists on both coasts.

  • In 2002, while studying law at Stanford, Shahid co-founded the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, which continues to recruit & train poets in the Collective’s 18th year.
  • Before passing the California bar exam in 2003, Shahid met three other poets at an open mic in SoMa hosted by the legendary Diamond Dave. Together, they founded the outdoor poetry convergence that has graced the corner of 16th & Mission every Thursday night for the past 15 years.
  • A few months later, he founded the DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency in Washington.
  • In between, he participated in Burning Man for the first time, before returning many times to perform documentary poems, rock revolutionary rhymes, and share socially conscious music for camps from Pink Mammoth and Heart Phoenix to Opulent Chill and TransFOAMation, while helping build art projects from the Solarium and the Heart Phoenix to the Sonic Runway.

In the wake of Trump’s election, Shahid combined his passions for justice and music by founding Movement, a series of quarterly parties in San Francisco supporting local non-profits that serve immigrant communities, such as Causa Justa / Just Cause and Asian Pacific Islanders Legal Outreach.

​His writing for Huffington PostTruthout, the Burning Man Journal, Tech Crunch, Project Censored, and academic legal journals addresses a wide range of issues, from foreign policy and counterterrorism to human rights and torture, from transparency and drone strikes to voting rights and tax law, from the crisis in executive power and corresponding threat to democracy to the bait-and-switch surrounding police body cameras.

In addition to his work as a public interest advocate, writer, and artist, Shahid also serves on the Boards of Directors of the Center for Media JusticeDefending Rights and Dissent, and the Fund for Constitutional Government.

The working people of San Francisco deserve to be heard.

That’s why Shahid is running to represent our city in Congress!