Posted on April 05, 2010 in Arab American Institute

Hon. Richard M. Daley
Award for Individual Achievement
Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago is being recognized for his leadership role in promoting Sister City relationships in the Arab world. In 2008, he convened the first ever U.S. Arab Cities Forum along with Chicago Sister Cities International. The conference brought together nearly 50 mayors and municipal leaders from a variety of Arab nations to discuss issues related to education, economic development, and the environment. The Mayor was a featured speaker at the second convening in Amman, Jordan in 2009 and continues to encourage strong sister city ties between Chicago and the Jordanian capital, as well as a highly successful program with Casablanca, Morocco.

Mayor Daley has hosted many leaders from the Arab world and continues a strong relationship with his city’s Arab American community, through the well-established Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ Advisory Council on Arab Affairs and support for an Arabic language program in the city’s public school system. Over the past 20 years Mayor Daley has made an unmistakable impact on his city, and beyond. In 2005, Time Magazine described him as being “widely viewed as the nation’s top urban executive.”


Mr. Juma Al Majid
Award for International Commitment
Mr. Juma Al Majid is a highly respected businessman and philanthropist, who for 50 years has dedicated financial, humanitarian, and academic resources to his community in the United Arab Emirates. In 1991, following his dream to make enduring economic and cultural contributions to his country, he established the Juma Al Majid Center for Culture and Heritage, a non-profit reference library and research institute that boasts more than 400,000 titles in Arabic, English, French, German, Russian, and other languages.

The Center houses a national heritage collection of rare books and manuscripts related to the Arabian Gulf and other areas, many collected by the founder himself. Al Majid created a special department to train preservationists from around the globe in state-of-the-art restoration techniques, enabling cultures throughout the world to salvage and retain their recorded heritage.

Mr. Al Majid’s considerable reputation for philanthropy extends throughout the educational infrastructure of his home country. He has founded a number of institutions, including the National Charity School and the Islamic and Arabic Studies College, which have dramatically increased access to education in the UAE.


The Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS)
Award for Institutional Excellence
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) was created as an independent agency of the U.S. government by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. Its mission, to “support the American culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility,” was reauthorized and expanded in 2009 under the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. While a government agency, the Corporation acts much like a foundation, and it is the nation’s largest grant maker supporting service and volunteering.

Currently, CNCS delivers programs designed to help communities address poverty, the environment, education, and other unmet human needs. The AmeriCorps program has touched the lives of Arab Americans across the country by providing over $5 million to the Arab American Resource Corps, founded in 2001 by the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), which now provides training and staff support to organizations, including the AAI Foundation, serving Arab communities in eleven states. Other CNCS initiatives include Learn and Serve America, Senior Corps, and USA Freedom Corps.


The Honorable Rosemary Barkett
Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service
Judge Rosemary Barkett was born in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico to parents of Syrian ancestry who relocated to Miami, Florida when she was six years old. After graduating from the University of Florida College of Law, Judge Barkett practiced civil and trial law in West Palm Beach, and was appointed by Governor Bob Graham in 1979 to the Circuit Court. Judge Barkett steadily earned higher judicial positions until in 1985, when she became the first woman on the state’s Supreme Court, rising to be named its Chief Justice in 1992.

President Bill Clinton nominated Judge Barkett in 1994 to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a position that she continues to hold today. She was the inspiration for the Rosemary Barkett Outstanding Achievement Award, given by the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, and the Rosemary Barkett Award, presented by the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers. Judge Barkett’s dissention in the recent ruling against minority voting rights (Florida NAACP v. Browning) demonstrates how her commitment to the public good, justice and equality has found constant expression in her work.


Mr. Abdulrahman Zeitoun
Special Recognition
Mr. Abdulrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian-American resident of New Orleans who during Hurricane Katrina stayed in the city and spent five heroic days and nights in his canoe distributing supplies and helping rescue those he could. One week after the storm hit, Zeitoun was arrested as a suspected terrorist and incarcerated without the opportunity to contact his wife Kathy or the rest of his family. His story is an encapsulation of what went wrong with our federal government’s response to the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and how its mistaken national security policies impacted the lives of Arab Americans.

Best-selling author Dave Eggers spent three years researching this story of tragedy and hope and in 2009 published Zeitoun, which won rave reviews and was described in the New York Times Book Review as “21st-century Dickensian storytelling.” Film director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) is also collaborating on an animated film version of the book. The Zeitoun family began a foundation in 2009 to donate the proceeds of the book to aid in the continued rebuilding of New Orleans and to help ensure the human rights of all Americans.


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