To Khaim Morton, being a chief of staff in the California Legislature is a lot like being a point guard in basketball. “You have to understand teamwork and be able to get everyone involved in the play you need to run,” he says.
Khaim, who works alongside Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, 54th District, played both junior varsity and varsity ball at Crossroads. “We brought a passion to the game that spurred me on,” he says of his teams and coaches like Daryl Roper. Many of his teammates have become lifelong friends.
Khaim joined Crossroads in ninth grade after his civic-minded parents learned about the School through the Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs. “I liked the overall vibe—the weird style of it— right away,” he says.
He discovered he enjoyed history, exploring why something happened and how it affected people. He first attended Wesleyan University, but a family illness brought him back to the West Coast. At California State University, Los Angeles, he majored in political science and got involved in local politics. After graduation, he received a call asking him to join the LA mayoral campaign of James Hahn. “Everything started to align for me then,” says Khaim. “I was in the right place.”
When Hahn won the election, Khaim became mayoral aide. He then served as field deputy for LA City Council President Alex Padilla; when Padilla became a state senator, Khaim signed on as his legislative consultant. Khaim also worked as senior assistant to Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer before joining Ridley-Thomas, first as legislative director and, as of October 2014, chief of staff.
Many of the lessons he learned at Crossroads, on and off the court, have stuck with him, particularly this: “Never give up on people. Dig deeper and ask them to challenge themselves.” It’s a guiding principal for him as a father to his teenage sons Jelani and Sharif, and in the Legislature.
Even on frustrating days, he relishes what he’s doing. “You’re out there, fighting the good fight, doing something that will mean something to people’s futures,” says Khaim. “That feels good.”