Posted on August 15, 2012 in Arab American Institute
Arab Americans at the Republican National Convention
Mayor Sam Abed
Alternate Delegate, District 50
Sam Abed, mayor of Escondido, CA, has been an active member of his community ever since immigrating to the United States from Lebanon in 1987. For Abed, becoming a U.S. citizen “was one of the proudest days of my life”. In 2004, Abed ran for city councilman and won. This was only the beginning of his political career. In 2010, he became mayor of Escondido. As mayor, Abed believes “we have come to a crossroads in the history of our city, our state and our country. For our city to be successful, and for America to remain a great nation, we need to protect our fundamental rights entrusted to us by our Founding Fathers.” To protect those “fundamental rights”, Abed will be attending the Republican National Convention as delegate and supporting the Romney campaign.
Congressman Darrell Issa
Honorary Co-Chair, California 2012 GOP Delegation
Delegate, District 49
Since 2001, Congressman Darrell Issa has served as U.S. Representative for California's 49th congressional district. Currently, Issa serves on the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the House Judiciary Committee, and is chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In accordance with his Republican beliefs, Issa has endorsed Mitt Romney's candidacy for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election. In August, Congressman Issa will be attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. The Congressman’s political activism does not end here. As the grandson of Lebanese immigrants, Issa has also been active in the American Task Force for Lebanon and has served on the organization’s board of directors since 2010. As one of the few Lebanese-Americans in Congress, Issa has played an important role in U.S. relations with the Middle East and has traveled to Lebanon and Syria to address issues of concern to the American people.
Romney's Florida Campaign Co-Chairman
Justin Sayfie is an attorney and government relations consultant at Blosser & Sayfie, the President and CEO of Sayfie Media, and Principal for NetPower Strategy. Prior to founding Blosser & Sayfie in 2001, Justin served as a senior policy advisor, Communications Director and Chief Speechwriter to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. In 2009, Justin was named one of Florida’s Top Ten Republicans by Politics Magazine. Since 2002, he has published SayfieReview.com, an online publication focused on Florida politics that has served as the exclusive Florida affiliate for the National Journal's Hotline Political Network since 2006. Justin has appeared as a commentator on Florida politics on Fox News Channel and BBC World News America. In June 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Justin to the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. Justin received his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from the University of Miami in 1994. In 1990, Justin graduated with a degree in American Government from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He currently lives in Miami with his wife, a Circuit Court Judge, and three children.
Randa Fahmy Hudome
In 2003, Randa launched Fahmy Hudome International (FHI), a strategic consulting firm which provides critical advice and counsel to Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, media organizations, and private sector entities with business interests in the Middle East and North Africa. Prior to founding FHI, Ms. Fahmy Hudome was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the United States Associate Deputy Secretary of Energy. Working with the White House and the Departments of State and Commerce, she developed and implemented the Bush Administration’s international energy policy. Randa was also the point person at the Department of Energy for increased advocacy on behalf of American energy companies seeking business around the globe. From 1995-2001, Randa served as Counselor to United States Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI). During the six years she spent in the legislative branch, she was credited with shaping many pieces of legislation that affected U.S. interests abroad, including financial assistance to U.S. allies in the Middle East. Ms. Fahmy Hudome’s opinions on international diplomacy have been published in the Wall Street Journal, and she appears frequently as an expert analyst on NBC’s Today Show, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and Al-Jazeera.
Congressman Justin Amash
Justin Amash is a Republican member of Congress from Michigan, and the youngest Arab American ever elected to Congress. He is a Palestinian American, and a libertarian who's passionate commitment and close adherence to the Constitution helped him ride the Tea Party wave and win his seat in 2010. The Congressional Quarterly described Amash as "The tenacious lawyer-turned-lawmaker, who served in the Michigan House, takes extraordinary measures to shine the spotlight on his causes." Amash puts principle before party, and has no trouble voting against his own party on the issues he believes in.
Nicola Hawatmeh, recent law school graduate from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, was appointed to the State of Michigan Board of Speech-Language Pathology in February 2012. He also serves as the Alumni Association Board of Directors at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Previously, Hawatmeh served as a Law Clerk at the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Based on this young Republican’s political engagements, Hawatmeh will be attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa this fall for the first time.
Governor John H. Sununu
Chair, Committee on Rules and Order of Business.
New Hampshire Governor John Sununu will chair the Committee on Rules and Order of Business at the Republican National Convention. Sununu became New Hampshire's 75th Governor on January 6, 1983, and served three consecutive terms. He served as chairman of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, the Republican Governors Association and the National Governors Association in 1987. Sununu also served as the first White House Chief of Staff for George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1991.
Sherine El-Abd is an Egyptian born American citizen who immigrated to the United States in 1965. After leaving a country in which civil society was constrained and political involvement was limited, El-Abd has been extremely involved in the American political sphere. She currently serves as the President of the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women and enjoys a close working relationship with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In addition to her role as political advocate for Arab Americans, El-Abd serves a vital role of integrating women into the political sphere via the Republican Party. Gov. Christie has asked her to run for Statewide Republican delegate of New Jersey and recently selected El-Abd to be part of the state’s redistricting commission. El-Abd urges the Arab American community to get involved in politics, stating, “we are here to live a dream and make our voice heard. We have a very rich heritage that we can actually give as a gift to America because we owe a lot to this country.” Read extended profile
Joseph M. Kyrillos
Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr. began serving New Jersey's 13th Legislative District in 1988 when he was elected to the General Assembly. After spending two terms in the Assembly he was elected to the Senate where he has served since 1993. Majority Conference Leader from 1997-2002, Senator Kyrillos sits on both the Senate Economic Growth and Judiciary committees. He was the Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee from 2001-2004 and New Jersey Chairman for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. In addition to his official duties, the Senator is employed as Senior Managing Director of Colliers International, the commercial real estate services firm with offices in New York and Parsippany. His past experiences include Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the Vice President's staff for the 1984 Reagan-Bush campaign, Director of Business Standards and Ethics for the Mid-Atlantic Health Group and an associate with the Beneficial Corporation. Senator Kyrillos, 51, graduated from the Lawrenceville School, Hobart College and holds a Master's degree from the Boston University School of Public Communication. He is married to Susan Doctorian Kyrillos and they live in Middletown with their children Max and Georgia.
Miriam Swydan Erickson
President of The Swydan Erickson Group, LLC
Attending the RNC with her company, UltimateCNG, which is providing the natural gas powered shuttle buses for the media and the delegates for both the Democratic and Republican conventions.
Miriam Swydan Erickson is an appointed member of the Fairfax County Commission for Women and a member of the Fairfax County Republican Committee. She is a former candidate for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and was active in the campaigns of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Hon. Spence Abraham, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Gov. Bob McDonnell, and many local campaigns. She also attended the Republican convention in Philadelphia. Erickson is an attorney with 30 years of experience in the fields of energy and environmental law and guest lecturer at the Johns Hopkins Masters Program in Energy Polcy and Climate Change. She began her career at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and later serving as Majority Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
David-Imad Ramadan is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, first elected to serve as representative of the 87th district in November 2011. Ramadan is also a successful businessman and has taken the 9th largest US franchise, Curves International, into the Middle East and India. The first member of his family to immigrate to the United States from Lebanon in 1989, Ramadan has worked on every Republican gubernatorial and presidential campaign in Virginia since his arrival. From 2010 to 2012, he served on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University, and he is the first Lebanese American first-generation immigrant to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. Ramadan is also a frequent commentator on TV and Radio news networks such as ABC's Good Morning America, LBC, MSNBC, France 24, Al-Hurra, BBC, and NPR. Read extended profile
George R. Salem
Chairman of Arab American Institute
George R. Salem serves as Strategic Advisor with DLA Piper, where he is focused on assisting in the development of DLA Piper's Middle East and US Department of Labor practices. He was named by The National Law Journal as one of the top 26 labor lawyers in the United States. From 1985-89 he served as Solicitor of Labor, the U.S. Department of Labor's chief legal officer. He is the first Palestinian Arab American to have been nominated by a President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Salem played key roles in the campaigns of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush. He chairs the Arab American Institute, which he co-founded in 1985, and is past chairman of the National Association of Arab Americans. In 1992 Salem received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, presented annually to Americans of diverse origins for outstanding contributions to their own ethnic groups and to American society. Mr. Salem currently serves on the Labor Policy Advisory Committee for the Romeny campaign.
Arab Americans at the Democratic National Convention
Delegate, District 42
Hussam Ayloush, an Arab American human rights activist has been the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Southern California since 1997. Throughout his career, Ayloush has made it a priority to promote democratic societies both within and outside the US. To fulfill his lifelong goal and advocate for equality, he has appeared on national and international media programs including CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, and NPR. In addition, he has also spoken at various California universities and religious institutions promoting interfaith dialogue and pluralism. Recently, the human rights activist was elected as a delegate for the 71st Assembly District and Executive Board member to the California Democratic Party and also elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Because of his work at CAIR, Ayloush has been able to work with public officials as well as law enforcement agencies “to ensure a better understanding and treatment of Muslim”. He serves on the board of the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress and formerly served on the Multi-Cultural Advisory Council and is also a proud member of the National Board of the Syrian American Council and was a past member on the board of directors of ACCESS California, a non-profit organization providing social services to low income and under-served communities in Southern California.
Delegate, District 6
Basim Elkarra was re-elected in 2011 to the California Democratic Party's Executive Board and he chairs its Arab American Caucus and Affirmative Action Committee. During the last eight years, Elkarra has served as the Executive Director of the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV). Elkarra runs CAIR California's Muslim Youth Leadership Program (MYLP) at California’s State Capitol and regularly testifies in hearings. He also appears regularly in the media as a commentator on issues of civil liberties, the Arab and Muslim American community, and foreign affairs. Elkarra currently serves on the American Civil Liberties Union-Sacramento Board, Sacramento Police Multicultural Advisory Committee, Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association's (APAPA) Outreach Committee and Chairs the Los Rios Community College Bond Oversight Committee. Elkarra also serves as a senior fellow with the American Leadership Forum (ALF).
Delegate, District 26
Ferial Masry made history when she became the first Saudi Arabian to run for office in America. Ever since moving to the United States in 1979, Masry has been active in her local community. However, it was not until the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 that she entered politics. Masry believed the war was immoral was compelled to voice her opinions. Consequently, the Saudi Arabian native ran for California State Assembly in the 37th District as a Democrat. Although she did not win, she is now celebrated across the Middle East and throughout the United States for breaking down boundaries for Arab women. In 2004, Masry remained active within the Democratic Party and attended the DNC as the nominee for a State Assembly post in California. This time round, she will be attending the DNC in Charlotte as a delegate for California District 26. Masry is also the author of Running for All the Right Reasons: A Saudi-born Woman's Pursuit of Democracy.
Bassem Manneh will be attending his second Democratic National Convention, and first as a delegate. He looks forward to serving his community and his district in this election year. He is Palestinian American, and he has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 35 years. He has been employed by United Airlines for over 15 years, and has been a Senior Shop Steward, and Assistant Grievance Representative in the past. His involvement in politics involves campaigning, traveling to battleground states, serving as a Community Liaison to California State Senator Leland Yee, serving under former San Francisco Mayor Willie L Brown in the Neighborhood Services Department, and getting more young Arab Americans involved. In 2008, he traveled to five States to help campaign for President Barack Obama.
District of Columbia
Maya Berry is AAI's Executive Director, steering the Institute's policy agenda. After more than a decade of political work, Berry co-founded the MidAmr Group – a private consulting company based in Washington DC that works to improve U.S. bilateral relations with the Arab and Muslim world on the economic, political, and cultural fronts. Prior to establishing MidAmr, Berry served as the Legislative Director for House Minority Whip David E. Bonior (D-MI), managing the Congressman's legislative strategy and developing policies on international relations, human rights, trade and military affairs. She also served as AAI's Director of Government Relations, and continues to facilitate focus groups for international polling firm Zogby International. She is a regular commentator on U.S.-Arab relations, and serves as guest host of Abu Dhabi TV's Viewpoint with James Zogby, an award winning public affairs program. Berry has previously attended the DNC in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 as a delegate or committee member.
Dr. James Zogby serves as the President of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC. He co-founded the organization in 1985 and has been involved in a full range of Arab American issues for over two decades. He also co-founded the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in the late 1970s, and later co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He serves on the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee as well as on the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Zogby hosts a weekly television show called Viewpoint with James Zogby and writes a weekly newspaper column, Washington Watch.
Laura Hammad, a lawyer based in Orlando, Florida is undeterred by rampant Islamophobia in the political sphere. In fact, Hammad uses the reality of bigotry in political discourse to drive her participation to help bring about change. Through a legal lens, Hammad represents the Florida Arab American community in her involvement with the Florida Young Democrats. Hailing from a mixed religious and ethnic background, Hammad is fully aware that diversity and respect for one another is what make America great. With this attitude driving her, Hammad is an extremely important legal advocate for the Arab American community. “When we see bigoted laws, we have an obligation to fight back and use our skills and resources to inform people that these things are not true,” she says. Hammad advises Arab Americans that have been discriminated against or that feel politically or socially disenfranchised to push in the opposite direction to make things better. Read extended profile
Born in North Lebanon, Amioun, in the El Koura District, Mike Hamze grew up as Zafer Hamze in Tripoli, the capital of Northern Lebanon. He witnessed, firsthand, the futility of political action during his high school and early college years. During those times in that part of the world, he set out to accomplish his dream of coming to the United States of America, fascinated by free speech and freedom to live without fear and according to one's own choices. On the way, he made a few stops in Berlin, Athens, and Moscow, where he studied languages, including the Russian language at the prestigious MGU, Moscow State Linguistics University. After arriving and living in Orlando for two years, he graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate (USCS) with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. Eleven years later, he graduated from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton with an MBA in Investments Finance. He works at MetLife in West Palm Beach as a Financial Services Representative. His involvement and subsequent election as a delegate from Florida's Palm Beach County is a natural outcome of his determination to give back to his community by fighting for the middle class and his progressive ideals.
Tom Balanoff is President of both SEIU Local 1 and the SEIU Illinois State Council. SEIU Local 1 represents 50,000 property service workers throughout the central United States, including 10,000 janitors who recently organized in Texas, Ohio and Indiana. Under Balanoff's leadership, Local 1 streamlined the union's internal structure by creating the first Member Resource Center—a state-of-the-art call center and grievance-handling center—and by centralizing regional organizing resources in the local's Campaign Center, which runs strategic organizing and contract campaigns. Balanoff graduated with a Master's Degree in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois in 1974, and worked for the Fire Fighters Union, the Allied Industrial Workers' Union, and the Cement Workers Union before joining SEIU as international research director in 1988. He was elected to the SEIU International Executive Board in 1995, and became an International Vice President in 1996. SEIU Illinois also works to create independent political power for working people in Chicago. Balanoff was one of the founders of Chicago Jobs with Justice; is a founding member of United Power; and has served on the boards of the Chicago Anti-Defamation League, Citizen Action Illinois, and the Illinois Coalition for Better Health Care.
Hanah Jubeh is currently employed by the City of Chicago as the Assistant to Alderman John A. Pope, of Chicago's Southeast Side. Her position provides her with the opportunity to work on a variety of issues to enhance and improve the quality of life for Chicago residents through community outreach efforts and working with other governmental agencies. Hanah has worked with Alderman Pope since his election in April of 1999. Prior to joining Alderman Pope's staff, Hanah worked on several campaigns at the City, State and Federal level. As an Arab-American, Hanah also serves on the Board of the Arab American Democratic Club and is a member of Arab American Institute (AAI). She is actively involved with Mayor Daley's Advisory Council on Arab Affairs where she serves on several committee's including media, economic development and fundraising. During 2004, she worked with the Advisory Council on organizing task force hearings before the Chicago City Council on the issue of Minority Business Enterprise and the inclusion of Arab Americans.
Ismael Ahmed is currently the Associate Provost for Integrated Learning and Community Partnerships at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Ahmed is a longtime Democratic activist who has served in multiple political roles within the Michigan Democratic Party over the years. He was appointed Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services in September 2007 by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and served through January 2011. A nationally-recognized expert on poverty, immigration and social reform, Ahmed previously served as executive director of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS). During his 38 years with ACCESS (24 years as director), Ahmed advocated for low-income, new immigrant, and other marginalized communities across metro Detroit and beyond through a range of social justice, human services and arts activist programs focused on accessibility and equality.
Fay Beydoun currently serves as the Executive Director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, an organization committed to empowering the Arab-American business community ranging from small business to multinational corporations and executive professionals. She has also served as the Vice President of the American Middle East Economic Affairs Committee/ U.S. Arab Economic Forum that was founded upon the mutual desire to enhance bilateral relations. Over the years, Fay has mobilized and directed thousands of volunteers for various causes, 650 volunteers with the Arab American Institute for local, state and presidential campaigns. With the American Middle East Economic Affairs Committee and its initiatives, she has coordinated panels of speakers with conflicting views on economic, political and social issues present in the Middle East. She has also served as legislative liaison and lobbyist directing the implementation of advocacy programs. Read extended profile
Jumana Judeh founded the Arab American Women’s Business Council after serving as first vice chair of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce. The new organization’s mission was to advance the cause of Arab American women professionally and socially, and she continues to be a driving force behind the organization’s mission. Judeh mentors young Arab American women, and has created a scholarship fund to help young Arab American women receive a higher education. She is active with many organizations, including serving on the Board of the Detroit Regional Chamber and building relationships between the Arab American Women’s Business Council and Inforum (formerly the Women’s Economic Club). Judeh also serves as the volunteer director of Vista Maria, a court-appointed shelter for girls.
Rashida Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature. She was born and raised in Southwest Detroit, and was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives for the 12th House District in 2008. She is the only legislator that operates a fully-staffed community-based service center that provides over 10 anti-poverty programs. Prior to being elected, Tlaib worked as an attorney, social worker and community organizer at a number of nonprofit organizations. She was awarded the Role Model award from Alternatives for Girls, the Women of Wayne Headliners award, the United Community Housing Coalition’s Maryann Mahaffey Award, Zeta Phi Beta’s Woman of the Year award, named Hero of the Year award by Immigrants’ List and was recognized as one of Crain’s Detroit Business “Women to Watch.” Tlaib received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wayne State University in 1998 and her law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School in 2004. She has been married to her husband, Fayez, for 15 years and they are the parents of two boys. Read extended profile
Hindia Ali is a national delegate to Democratic National Convention as the first female Somali-American from the fifth district of Minnesota. Ms. Ali is the youth leadership coordinator with Somali Action Alliance. She holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations. Ms. Ali worked on Congressman Keith Ellison's reelection campaign to increase the participation of Somali American Voters in political campaigns. Ms. Ali conducts leadership trainings to organize and empower Somali youth around the state of Minnesota and internationally. She is a Resident with Community Organizing Residency (COR) in the Twin Cities Cohort. COR is building a leadership pipeline of community organizers who root their social change work and organizing careers in faith. Ms. Ali continues to be a voice for social justice to make Minnesota and the world a better place.
Brian Wahby is a Candidate for City Treasurer. He currently serves as the Chairman of the St. Louis City Democratic Party and candidate for Treasurer of the City of St. Louis. A life-long St. Louisan, Wahby has chaired the City Democrats since 2004, and in that time has built cooperative relationships in every corner of this diverse City. In 2009 Wahby was appointed Missouri's At-Large Member of the Democratic National Committee, and also served as President of St. Louis' bid for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, building a regional alliance of community, business, labor and political leaders. Wahby earned his BS in Public Administration at UM-St. Louis and his MBA at Washington University. A major proponent of downtown renewal, Wahby worked on St. Louis' Downtown NOW! plan which produced over $4 billion of investment and reestablished downtown St. Louis as a residential neighborhood. In 2007, he became a key representative of Obama for America in Missouri, and was among the first Missouri Democrats to endorse Barack Obama for president. Wahby and his wife of 16 years, Robbyn, have two children, Berrick (14) and Delia (10).
Francis G. Slay
Francis G. Slay was sworn in as the 45th Mayor of the City of St. Louis on April 17, 2001. He was re-elected by large margins in April 2005 and April 2009. The Slay Administration and its public and private partners have received national and international recognition for St. Louis's renaissance. Under Mayor Slay, the City is rebuilding its retail business base. Small and large retailers have rediscovered the city as a great place to do business. Mayor Slay has forced the issue of improving public education front and center. He supported state intervention to improve the St. Louis Public Schools and he has invited the most innovative educators in the country to submit proposals to open public charter schools here. Under his leadership, the City has put in place a Housing First plan that has resulted in a reduction in the number of homeless people. Prior to being elected Mayor, Francis G. Slay served as a St. Louis Alderman for 10 years, then as President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen from 1995 to 2001. Mayor Slay received his law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law. He holds a degree in political science from Quincy College. The second oldest of 11 children in a household in which public service was encouraged, Mayor Slay is the son of Francis R. and Anna Slay. The Mayor and his wife, Kim, live with three rescued dogs. Their children, Francis, Jr., and Katherine, are grown.
David Pollak, a Senior Strategic Advisor and Independent Consultant from New York has been an active member of Democratic Party and Arab American community. In 2008, Pollak served as the New York State Director for the Obama for America Campaign. He also served as Co-Chairman of the New York State Democratic Party from 2006 to 2008. In keeping with his involvement in the Democratic Party, Pollak is an At-Large member of the Democratic National Committee and also a member of the DNC’s Credentials Committee. Since 2006, Pollak served as Secretary of the Eastern Caucus for the Democratic National Committee. As an Arab American, Pollak has been active with various Arab American organizations and serves as board member for the Arab American Institute as well as the Arab American Family Support Center.
Delegate, 12th District
George El-Khouri, a North Carolinian of Lebanese descent decided to run for delegate once more this year to honor his late father, Joseph El-Khouri, who passed away on July 22, 2012. In 1988, he attended the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta with his father as a delegate from North Carolina. El-Khouri’s interest in politics stems from his father, and he has dedicated his life to public service. After graduating from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and History, he taught English in Lebanon for a year. He then returned to the United States and became a training specialist at the State Bureau of Investigation at the North Carolina Department of Justice. In addition, he has also worked for the North Carolina Attorney General’s office. Read extended profile
Linda Mansour was appointed by the Ohio Democratic Party as a state delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and was asked to attend again this year. She is the principal managing partner in her own law firm focusing on litigation, domestic and international transactions, immigration, children and family law issues, as well as employment matters. She also currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee and Vice Chair of the External Affairs Committee at the University of Toledo, having originally been appointed as a trustee to the university in 2009. In addition, Mansour currently serves on the board of ACCESS and is a member of the Arab American Institute’s National Policy Council, and is involved in an organization called PROPEL in Toledo that helps mentor and guide local Arab American youth in college both professionally and academically. Read extended profile
Fadia Halma is an Allentown, Pennsylvania native from an Arab–American family. She is the deputy executive director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Fadia is a leader in constituency outreach and education. Prior, to her current position, Fadia was selected by the presidential campaign as a political director for the crucial swing region of Southeastern PA, Her role in the campaign was recognized by former DNC Chairman Howard Dean as instrumental in winning Pennsylvania for President Obama. From 2006 – 2008, Fadia was a regional field director for the DNC's 50 State Partnership program for Eastern Pennsylvania. She helped re-elect Governor Rendell, and elect Senator Bob Casey, Congressman Chris Carney, Congressman Patrick Murphy and Congressman Joe Sestak. She has an extensive background in grassroots organizing. She founded the Lehigh Valley Democratic Coalition which recruits and organizes volunteers to elect Democrats. Fadia is a former Social Studies teacher and longtime union activist. Fadia is a graduate of Moravian College and holds a Masters in Political Science and Education. She and her husband Tom have two girls, Kira, and Maya who Fadia refers to as her greatest achievements.
Delegate, 9th District
Jack Hanna is Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Democrats’ Southwest Caucus and a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. In 1996 Hanna first served as a delegate to the DNC representing Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district. Beyond the Arab American community, Hanna is a leader among Pennsylvania’s ethnic communities, coordinating outreach to Pennsylvania’s Arab American, South Asian, Latino, and ethnic European communities. He assists the Party in the delegate selection process in Western Pennsylvania by recruiting delegate candidates. Hanna’s role in Pennsylvania, a key swing state in this year’s election, and in ethnic voter outreach is one incredible example of Arab Americans setting an example for other communities to engage in the political process. “Our community and our country and the world will not change if we don’t become involved in the political process,” he says. Read extended profile
Councilman Michael Solomon was elected in 2006, and re-elected in 2010 to represent the Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods. He carries on a tradition of public service established by his father, Anthony, who served six terms as Rhode Island's General Treasurer.A successful business owner, he is the proprietor of Wes' Rib House and Cozy Catering, and is a member of the Olneyville Businessmen's Association and the National Restaurant Association. During the 2007-2011 term, Councilman Solomon served as: Chairperson of the Committee on Ordinances, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Public Works, Member of the Committee on Finance, Member of the Special Committee on Public Education, and Member of the Special Committee to Study and Make Amendments to PERA. Councilman Solomon is a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, and the Chamber of Commerce. He resides in Mount Pleasant with his wife Denise, and is the proud father of three daughters.
Vincent Sheheen was born and raised in Camden, where his family has lived for well over a century. Vincent has made improvement of South Carolina's public schools the cornerstone of his legislative efforts. Before his election to the South Carolina Senate in 2004, Vincent served as a city prosecutor and a state representative. Now in his second full term, He represents Chesterﬁeld, Kershaw, and Lancaster counties. He was the lead sponsor of a bill to setup the ofﬁce of Inspector General to root out waste, fraud, and corruption. He has won the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his innovative ideas for streamlining state government and making it more accountable. He has been honored by the South Carolina Solicitors' Association for his work on behalf of law enforcement and the state's police ofﬁcers, and by the Wild Turkey Federation for his efforts to safeguard our natural resources. Protection of South Carolina's precious outdoors, from the coastal marshes to the foothills of the Blue Ridge, is central to his vision of responsible government.Vincent and his wife Amy are the proud parents of three boys: 14-year old twins Austin and Joseph and 10-year old Anthony. All three attend the same public schools that their dad did over 25 years ago.
Osman Ahmed is originally from Somalia, and now lives in West Jordan, Utah. He has been active in Utah politics and advocating minority issues for many years, and in June 2004 he was appointed to serve on the Utah State Black Advisory Council. While on the council, one of his greatest accomplishments was helping to pass hate crime legislation with former Governor Jon Huntsman. In April 2007 he became Utah State Democratic Black Caucus chairman. This year he is proud to be one of Utah's 34 delegates heading to Charlotte. In addition to politics, he is heavily involved in refugee issues, community organization and grassroots campaigning.
Edward Ayoob is a partner in the Federal Relations Group in Barnes & Thornburg LLP's Washington, D.C., office. His work on behalf of clients includes areas such as taxation, appropriations, Native American, small business, foreign affairs, and various regulatory concerns, among numerous other issues. Mr. Ayoob is the former legislative counsel, tax counsel, appropriations manager, and foreign affairs advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV). He was also the senator's chief aide on judicial nominations and other issues related to the senator's leadership role. Mr. Ayoob also served as Majority Leader Reid's assistant finance director on the senator's successful 1998 reelection campaign. He has worked in the government and represented clients' interests before the government for more than 12 years. Mr. Ayoob graduated in 1991 from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in international relations and political science, and received his J.D. in 1996 from Duquesne University School of Law. Mr. Ayoob is a member of the board of trustees of the International Maronite (Lebanese Catholics) Foundation. He is also a former president (1999-2004) and member of the board of directors of the Nevada State Society.
Rules Committee Member
Devon Abdallah is an influential civil rights activist in her home state of Washington. This year, she will be one of three Arab Americans attending the DNC from there. Abdallah will be on the Standing Committee and. represents Arab American grassroots participation coming to the forefront of American politics. A lawyer by trade, Abdallah is a founding member of the Arab American Community Coalition, an organization with a 24-hour hotline fighting against hate crimes aimed at Arab Americans. Abdallah’s work serves her local, state, and national community and she understands that being politically active best serves Arab Americans and the country. “We are an important constituency. And our job as a community is to make ourselves heard.” Read extended profile
Majid Al-Bahadli’s journey is a great American story. Born in Basra, Iraq, Al-Bahadli has been politically active since his youth despite the constraints of Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime. Al-Bahadli’s participation in political rallies to topple Saddam Hussein made him a target for the regime, and as a result he had to flee his home to Saudi Arabia. “I couldn’t stay in Iraq; I knew I would die if I stayed. I had to escape.” Instead of receiving refuge in Saudi Arabia, Al-Bahadli was arrested and sent to a prison camp where he remained for five years along with other political dissidents. It was this experience, and living for years under an oppressive regime, that encouraged Al-Bahadli to become politically active in the U.S. In 2000 he became a citizen and is now currently serving for the second time as a delegate from the state of Washington to the DNC. “You know, we came from a country where voting was a farce. Here it actually means something, it actually matters.” Read extended profile
Gus Mansour, a longtime Democrat and an active Obama campaigner, will be attending the Democratic National Convention along with fellow Washingtonians Devon Abdallah and Majid Al-Bahadli. Mansour’s aspirations to become a delegate stem from his love for community and from President Obama’s campaign for change. Mansour holds the Middle East peace process close to his heart and maintains that Arab Americans should not be disillusioned with the lack of progress made on Middle East peace. Although I understand a lot of things have not been achieved as we Arab Americans were hoping for in the past four years, I know the President has the right intentions.” Mansour encourages Arab Americans to run for political office and set an example for younger members of the community to engage in order to give voice to the issues we care about. Read extended profile
It all started her senior year at Lawrence University when Leila Sahar, a young Arab American from Wisconsin was chosen by party Chairman Howard Dean to serve on the DNC’s Credentials Committee; quite an achievement for a college student. Sahar says, “It sounded like a great opportunity to be a part of the process and have a chance to experience the convention from an insider’s perspective. I had no idea it would wind up being such a big deal.” As an active young democrat, Sahar was an intern at the Democratic National Committee’s political department for two summers prior to her appointment to the Credentials Committee. In addition, she also worked at the Wisconsin Department of Justice in 2010 as an extern. Currently, Sahar is a youth council member on the Democratic National Convention.