Rosemary Barkett

Rosemary Barkett, the first female judge and the first Arab American judge to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, was born in 1939 to Syrian immigrants. An exemplary woman of many firsts, Judge Barkett credits her remarkable career to her diverse upbringing that helped give her a global perspective on shared values and an appreciation of the world as a whole. Continue reading


Sam Maloof 

Sam Maloof, arguably America’s number one wood craftsman, was born in 1916 in Chino, California to Lebanese immigrants. Referred to by President Carter as his personal “woodworking hero,” Maloof remained committed to the values of craftsmanship, integrity, and compassion which he learned from his parents’ heritage. Continue reading 



Naomi Shihab Nye

Poet, songwriter, and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1952 to a Palestinian father and American mother. A strong advocate for mutual understanding and respect between Americans and Arabs, Naomi has created a cultural space in America for people to come together to celebrate their commonalities alongside their differences. Her artistic spirit has inspired millions, perfectly demonstrating how art can be used to promote acceptance and love throughout the world and for generations to come. Continue reading


Edward Said

Edward Said, a Palestinian American literary theorist and leading public intellectual, was born in 1935 in Jerusalem. A bold leader in the Arab American community, his groundbreaking work and resulting publication of "Orientalism" challenged the common understanding of how the West perceives and relates to the Middle East. His contributions to American intellectual thought and the significance of his activism with regards to U.S. foreign policy continues to spark important discussions and prolific debate. Continue reading


 Helen Thomas

Prominent reporter Helen Thomas was born in 1920 in Winchester, Kentucky to Syrian-born immigrants from Tripoli, Lebanon. Fiesty and passionate, Thomas covered the administrations of eleven U.S. presidents over five decades in relentless pursuit of the truth, making her one of the the best White House correspondents this country has ever seen. Hardly just a reporter, Thomas broke down barriers for female journalists, and earned nationwide recognition as the most fearless and respected leader of the press.  Continue reading


 The Doumars

An ambitious and determined immigrant from Damascus, Abe Doumar is said to have invented the first ever waffle cone. Abe’s driven and unwavering spirit as a crafty salesman along with his nephew Albert’s hard work and dedication to their famous family restaurant, illustrate the powerful and limitless potential immigrants possess, whose contributions continue to make America the best nation it can be. Continue reading


Selwa "Lucky" Roosevelt

Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, was born in Kingsport, Tennessee in 1929. An exceptional journalist and civil servant, she held the longest tenure ever as Chief of Protocol for the White House from 1982—1989. From humble immigrant beginnings, the motivational guidance of her mother, the curiosity and brilliance of her mind, and the resolve in which she pursued her goals allowed her to achieve the highest of distinctions, and the Arab American community couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments.Continue reading


Danny Thomas

Founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and TV Hall of Famer Danny Thomas dedicated his life to returning his good fortune to those who needed it the most in his community, either through the power of comedy or the graces of medicine. Leaving behind an unforgettable legacy, Thomas will always serve as an inspiration to his proud Arab, immigrant, and greater American communities. Continue reading 



Your Stories

As much as we love hearing the narratives of the most well-known members of our Arab American community, there is nothing better than tuning in to ordinary Arab Americans to hear you tell us about your extraordinary journeys to and through America. Whether it is about the moment you or your ancestor first stepped off the airplane/boat or simply about your memories accumulated on American soil, your story is important to us.Continue reading 


Casey Kasem 

Best known for his radio countdown show American Top 40, disc jockey and radio personality Casey Kasem was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1932 to Lebanese immigrants. Immensely proud of his Arab heritage, Kasem was a strong voice and guiding force for all Arab Americans. Indeed, he helped establish the Arab American Institute and was there at our founding meeting with President Reagan at the White House. Continue reading.


Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader was born in 1934 to parents who had immigrated to the U.S. from Zahle, Lebanon. A tireless activist for consumer rights, environmentalism and humanitarianism, Nader is considered by many scholars to be among the most influential Americans of the twentieth century, a hero to social activists, and a man who has potentially done more for the American consumer than any other person in his time. Cotinue reading


Farouk El-Baz

Farouk El-Baz was born in the Nile Delta village of Zagazig, Egypt in 1938 and went on to be one of the foremost scientific researchers in the world. El-Baz's extraordinary contributions to the American space program would go on to earn him recognition in popular culture with the appearance of a shuttle craft named the “El-Baz” in the famed Star Trek television show to a segment on Tom Hanks’ series for HBO entitled, “The Brain of Farouk El-Baz.” Continue reading


Diane Rehm

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1936 into a Syrian family, Diane Rehm is a renowned journalist and public radio talk show host. She is best known for her nationally and internationally distributed National Public Radio (NPR) program, The Diane Rehm Show, which she has hosted for more than 30 years. Continue reading



Dr. Elias Zerhouni

Elias Zerhouni arrived in the United States after spending his youth in Algeria where he volunteered in a mountain village and witnessed how impoverished communities are affected by restricted access to quality healthcare. Zerhouni went on to become the first immigrant appointed as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, the United States' premiere national medical research agency. Zerhouni’s contributions to the American scientific field have been immense, winning him several honorary awards and assuming top medical positions. A researcher and radiologist, Dr. Elias Zerhouni has made a lasting and transformative impact on medical research, guiding future scholars to come. Continue reading

Kahlil Gibran 

Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese American artist, writer, and philosopher was born in the town of Bsharri in modern day Lebanon in 1883. Raised in an underprivileged and destitute family, Gibran rose to the level of world renowned author and artist despite the adverse circumstances he often landed in.One of the greatest thinkers of all time, his ideas and thoughts still resonate today. Continue reading