Xander Orenstein

Xander Orenstein

Pittsburgh District Magistrate, District 05-03-10, PA

Xander received a Bachelors in biological sciences from Carnegie Mellon University in 2014 and a Masters in Biotechnology and Biodefense in 2019. Throughout that time, they had a passion for using research to help their community, but at each point along the way, the institutions of academia and industry put profit before anything else. This conflict of priorities left Xander dissatisfied at the impact they were having on their community.

The COVID-19 crisis set into sharp relief the inequality built into the legal system - evictions were being filed by the hundreds despite federal orders in place halting them. Xander started organizing with the Pittsburgh Union of Regional Renters and found true purpose in fighting for tenants rights. They recognize that our justice system is antiquated - built for a different time by a set of people with a very different set of values. While we can not build it anew overnight, we can work within it to produce fairness where many times there seems to be none, and bring relief to those who might otherwise not have a chance.

Communities must be built from the bottom up, not carefully curated by kicking out people who are poorer or more diverse than the wealthy view as not fitting within their vision of the community.