Farhana Hibbert entered the world tiny and hidden but between her birth in war-torn Pakistan, an immigration to Puerto Rico and a top spot at Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s office, Hibbert created a big life, filled a staggering resume and gave a voice to thousands of Idahoans.
“I was born in Pakistan on the Indian-Pakistani border during the 1971 Civil War. I was small enough that my mother would put me in a shoebox under the staircase to keep me safe when there was a threat of a bomb,” U.S. Senator Mike Crapo’s Regional Director says.
Constituents now count on the self-made woman who counts simple freedoms among the things she’s most grateful for. “I am grateful for the freedoms I have in this country, including the freedom to marry for love, to pursue an education, run for office and to be a mother,” Hibbert says.
Hibbert took advantage of those freedoms early on and today you’ll find her maintaining community ties, keeping the lines of communication open and just about everything in- between as a regional director for Crapo’s office. But before she kept constituents connected, she connected readers to state issues and politics as publisher of IDAHO Unido, a Spanish and English newspaper.
“Journalism is something I’ve always done since I was 14 years-old because I love writing, I love learning about what’s going on around me and I love people,” she says.
Hibbert isn’t afraid to turn her loves into challenges and that’s exactly what she did. Newspaper publishing remains a notoriously difficult enterprise to fund and maintain but that didn’t stop Hibbert. She decided to throw covering an entire geographically diverse state into the mix along with a heavy dose of translating.
“Idaho is such a big state geographically, so it’s hard to cover state news,” Hibbert says.
In an era when many newspapers slashed staffs, cut budgets and closed doors, Hibbert launched IDAHO Unido in 1995 and served a statewide readership until 2011. The journalism job connected her to Idahoans and kept her emerged in state politics and regional issues.
“We made a lot of effort to reach out to different members of the community and be involved in the community,” she says.
Her work also put her ahead of her time. She made mentoring and promoting women a priority at the newspaper and even helped put some through college with scholarships. And for the parents at IDAHO Unido, the mother of six offered on-site child care.
Hibbert’s newspaper connections groomed her for work in politics, but her interest in public service didn’t begin with landing a job at Crapo’s office in 2007. She served as a school board representative in high school, won an election to student council and clocked hours of community service before serving on boards of community and professional organizations including the Idaho Press Club. The former city council and state Representative candidate now serves as vice chair of the South East Idaho Republican Women and lists dozens of publications and awards among her honors. She does it all in the spirit of community and for a love for her adopted homeland, she says.