I grew up in Europe during the years following World War II. My mother Valerie Lowe (nee Ernei) survived the war in hiding in Slovakia and later joining guerrillas fighting the Nazis. Most of her family were killed. My father Ernest Lowe narrowly survived by fleeing his home in Vienna and eventually reaching the United States. After the war, he worked for the prosecution at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, after which he began a career with American military intelligence agencies. I was born shortly thereafter at his first assignment in the post-war occupation of Austria. Strangely, my hometown of Braunau on the German border was Adolf Hitler’s birthplace.
We lived in Austria and then Germany until my early teens. During those years, Europe recovered from the devastation of the war. I have vivid memories of concentration camp survivors, displaced persons camps, bombed cities, and growing Cold War tensions. In the early 1960s, we moved to the Boston area. After completing high school, I relocated to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. I eventually earned both a law degree and a Ph.D. there, launching me on a career in both politics and law.
While still in school, I began working on political campaigns and becoming engaged in public policy debates. Afterward, I worked for several years in organizations advocating for reforms in financial regulation, health care, and low-income housing development. During the rest of my legal career, I represented public agencies, housing developers, Native American tribes, and community organizations. Along the way, I had the opportunity to serve on numerous advisory commissions to state and local government. Additionally, the opportunity to participate in environmental and civic organizations. That enabled me to meet and learn from many prominent political leaders and public officials. I also taught courses in law, public policy, and urban planning at USC, UCLA, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego.
Over the course of my career, I have frequently written essays on land use, environmental, and political topics, published in the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, and other newspapers, as well as in professional journals. An extensive sampling of them, with links to the articles, is presented on the Other Writing page.
After an adventurous trip with my daughter, in search of family roots in Eastern Europe, I began writing a series of essays which evolved into the book Becoming American. I hope it contributes to a better understanding of immigrants and to a more productive public discussion of better immigration policies.