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David Javdan’s parents chose democracy over theocracy, and their son has made the most of that decision. This summer the attorney, 33, joined the Small Business Administration as its general counsel after eight years as an associate at New York’s Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. “The SBA has a moral component,” says Javdan. “We can provide people with the tools to control their own lives — their own destinies.” Those are not just clich�s to Javdan, who realized the importance of public service as far back as 1970, when his father, a physician, and his mother emigrated from Iran to the United States. His family last visited Iran in 1978, at the start of the revolution. “At a time like that, you appreciate the political stability of basic rights,” Javdan says. “It was not a good place to be. People were being killed for their religion and background.” Those experiences affected his career choices. Early on, he spent a summer working for Benjamin Gilman, a New York congressman who, like Javdan, is Jewish, Republican, and drawn to the Holocaust and other human rights issues. After law school at Fordham University, Javdan worked for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. At Stroock & Stroock, he practiced regulatory law for insurance and health care clients. But he pursued his passion — and raised his profile — by representing the Austrian-Jewish community in its Holocaust litigation against the Austrian government. He also served as pro bono counsel to the New York State Senate on Holocaust issues. Connections in Albany and contacts made while drumming up the Jewish vote for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign helped him land his job at the SBA. The 50-year-old agency supports the country’s 21 million small businesses through financing programs, technical assistance, and federal contracts. Setting up shop in a weak economy with an unemployment rate hovering near 6 percent and a soaring budget deficit is hardly easy work. “So many more small businesses need us now. Our clientele is carrying an increasing part of supporting our economy,” Javdan points out. He says his job is to determine what money can be spent and what programs can be implemented within the parameters of agency rules and congressional statutes, which at times are neither clear nor consistent. “The learning curve is steep,” Javdan says. “It feels like I’ve been here for five years.” That may be, but it is easy to envision the SBA as a training ground for a bigger job for this ambitious young lawyer. Who knows where he’ll land next?

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