Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher speaks to St. John’s students


Shelley Stein

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher takes a photo with politically engaged SJS students in the atrium.

Lauren Baker, Print Copy Editor

When Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher was in tenth grade at SJS, she helmed a pro-choice campus club, Young Adults for Reproductive Freedom, and started volunteering at Planned Parenthood. Little did the ’93 grad know she would be fighting Roe v. Wade’s overturn on the floor of the House of Representatives three decades later.

On Friday Nov. 4, Fletcher told a packed Atrium how she found her place as a congresswoman after years spent as a lawyer at Houston firms, including Vincent & Elkins and Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing, where she was the first female partner. She encourages others to approach their careers with the same flexibility. 

“You don’t have to have it figured out in college,” she said.  “I didn’t know this was what I wanted to do until just a couple of years ago.”

Students and teachers crowded the event, sitting on stairs and backpacks, shoulder to shoulder, despite multiple other opportunities and distractions, including the SJS vs Trinity Valley championship volleyball game. 

Fletcher opened her speech by recounting her own experience in the Upper School, paying tribute to other members of her graduating class, including MacArthur Genius grant winner Emily Ai-Hua Wang. As a student, Fletcher wrote for The Review, captained the Cheer team and became politically active. 

She was a practicing lawyer until 2017, when the presidential election made her rethink her career choice. After intense discussions with her family and party officials, she decided to run as a Democrat to represent TX-07—a historically Republican district once represented by George H.W. Bush. She recalled her political involvement as a student, including writing letters to representatives and taking over the pro-choice club her sister Katherine Center (’90) co-founded, known back then as YARF. 

Since her election in 2018, Fletcher has harnessed her intimate knowledge of Houston and the seventh district in order to better represent her constituents, a community that Fletcher says is “so innovative, so creative and so focused on problem solving and thinking about other people.”  

For Fletcher, being immersed in the community is one of the most important aspects of being a representative, and she takes every opportunity to fly home from Washington, D.C. 

Fletcher emphasized the importance of listening to her constituents, noting that she receives more than 100,000 letters each year and takes time to read and respond to each letter. Responding to her constituents ensures that she can accurately take their values to Congress.

“I will always take my lead from my constituents,” she said. “I’m always open, I’m always listening and trying to prioritize what matters to people in the district.”

For junior Ava Mostyn, the Young Liberals Organization Co-Vice President, Fletcher’s community involvement makes her more approachable.

 “She gets the opportunity to listen to her community in a different way and really see the needs instead of just hearing them,” Mostyn said.

The event was co-hosted by the club Women Helping Empower Each Other and the SJS Political Education Club. Senior Maggie Henneman worked with the WHEE board and history teacher Eleanor Cannon to bring the congresswoman to the School. 

Henneman likes that Fletcher is so connected with her alma mater and thinks that Fletcher is a great role model for modern democrats.  

“She comes into politics with a feeling of openness,” Henneman said. “ For me, that’s the mark of a real politician.” 

Fletcher told students that she saw other SJS alumni rise as leaders in their chosen fields, citing her peers’ goals as constant encouragement. 

“I hope that all of you will continue to have that experience of being around people who are engaged, who want to make the world a better place and who want to empower each other,” she said. 

Fletcher closed her speech by stressing the importance of political involvement, pointing out that students can find many ways to make an impact even though they can’t vote. 

“There are lots of ways to make your voice heard. Voting is one, but it’s not the only one.” Fletcher said. “Democracy’s not a spectator sport.”