Wadie Deddeh

"What brought me to America? 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.'"

Wadie Deddeh is an immigrant, an American, a teacher, a servant leader, a family man, the "father of Caltrans," and the first Iraqi-born American elected to public office anywhere in the United States. Wadie immigrated to the U.S. in the 1940s. He became a teacher and later entered elected office serving 16 years in the State Assembly and 17 years in the Senate. Through his work with the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and through his leadership in the development of Caltrans to provide a strategic solution for long-term transportation challenges, Wadie demonstrated leadership through action and the power of positive engagement. He believes in "crossing the aisle" to forge solutions just as our founders taught us. He believes in the power of community and the value of responsibility. His advice to the next generation: participate in politics; follow and engage with the news in state, country, and the world.