Former Lieutenant Governor Habib Joins Prep Faculty


Mr. Cyrus Habib chatting with students in the Commons

Nick Pickel, Staff Writer

Seattle Prep has been blessed yet again with a new addition to the Prep family; a man well known in political environments and renowned as an advocate for higher education and economic development, but who is now committing to a life of faith and service.

Most recently serving as Washington state’s 16th Lieutenant Governor, Cyrus Habib began his stint in politics in 2013 as a member of the Washington House of Representatives. Prior to his political career, Habib attended and earned degrees from Columbia University, St. John’s College, Oxford, and Yale Law School. He worked at Seattle law firm Perkins Coie from 2009-2017.

Habib, who was born in Baltimore and grew up in Bellevue, is a first-generation Iranian American who fought cancer three times, lost his eyesight and became fully blind at age 8. Habib said that having parents who believed in him and taught him to be an advocate, as well as a resourceful and supportive school system with Bellevue Public Schools, allowed his blindness not to become an obstacle as a child.

So, why did Habib leave behind politics and adopt a life of devotion with the Society of Jesus? “Politics is a culture in which you have to keep moving up, or else you become irrelevant very quickly. I found that was not bringing out the best side of me, and also was not bringing me deep joy,” He answered. “I read a book called The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything by Father James Martin … and somewhere in the back of my mind, this interest, this curiosity, and this attraction to the life was born and it just kind of stayed there.”

Habib stayed in politics for several years after this, but his desire to live as Jesus did – placing service above self-interest and ambition – continued to grow. As he felt more and more disillusioned with politics, he finally decided to “reach out to a spiritual director and go through the process of discernment.” Habib teaches that “Before you can discern your vocation, you should work on discerning your values.”

Habib is in the first stage of Jesuit Formation. First is two years of being a novice, Habib’s current position. Next is being a scholastic for several years, during which there is a break to become a regent. After about ten years, ordination finally happens, but formation continues for another 5 or 6 years until final vows can be taken. As a novice, Habib must participate in what is called a Long Experiment, which is typically a teaching experiment. He is doing this with Prep right now, following discussions between his novice director and Prep administration.

Habib’s favorite part of being at Prep so far is getting to know the students: “They’ve been so warm and hospitable and friendly and generous.” Having gone to public school, Habib noted that there were some preconceived notions about private schools that have been more or less proved wrong by his time at Prep. “It has surprised me that Prep is way more down to earth than I assumed. You know, I thought it was going to be much more strict… and elitist.” He enjoys being in a place similar to where he went to school but with the added ability to talk about more profound questions of spirituality. “Students and faculty have just been extremely warm and inviting and kind and lovely to get to know… I really like the balanced approach towards intellectual, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.”

Habib is often busy with Mock Trial and teaching Collegio, English, and theology classes, but he can be found in the Community Ministry office most other times. Habib said he’s “Available and excited to get to know people,” and “If students don’t really know what they want to talk about or they don’t have anything specific on their minds, just come and say hi and introduce yourself. I’d love to get to know you.”