Posted by Haley Arata on March 12, 2018 in Blog
Johanna Mustafa, Yalla Vote Field Organizer in California:
Johanna is a Palestinian American, raised in Jordan. She received her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Law and Society from the University of Southern California. Johanna is a National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) Transformative Leaders Fellow at the Arab American Civic Council. Before joining the AAI Yalla Vote team, she was a Development & Outreach and Children’s Rights intern with Human Rights Watch-Los Angeles, a Research Intern with California Strategies, and a Congressional Intern with Representative Karen Bass (CA-37) on Capitol Hill.
The 2011 Arab Uprisings in the Middle East sparked Johanna’s interest in politics, and she has since been involved in organizing her community. She was an active organizer on her college campus, and continues to work towards the advancement of the Arab American community by encouraging their civic engagement through community organizing, advocacy, public policy, and leadership development. Johanna believes the personal is political, and all politics is local.
As a CA Field Organizer, she looks forward to mobilizing her Arab American community to not only register and GOTV on election day, but to also increase their civic participation and uplift the Arab American voices on a local and national level.
Steven Austerer, Yalla Vote Field Organizer in Massachusetts:
Steven graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in Spanish, and obtained his Master of Science in Management from Hult International Business School. Following graduation, he spent the better part of the next decade working with public and private sectors in more than forty countries, including those in the Middle East. During this period, Steven also found time to volunteer on Senator Ed Marley's primary and general campaigns, Congresswoman Katherine Clark's campaigns, and served as field staff on the Clinton campaign in central Florida. Global human rights, and the belief in the "human tapestry" that is the United States, have been Steven’s twin lifelong passions.
Massachusetts ranks 9th in Arab American population, and the state is not a homogeneous voting bloc. As a highly educated constituency, Steven believes it is very important for Arab Americans to build an infrastructure for voter participation so that their views on domestic and foreign policy can be heard. As the son of an immigrant, he is very anxious to work with the Arab American community to increase interest and participation in the electoral process and to help it take a more visible role.
Steven views himself as a catalyst to help a dynamic segment of the Bay State's population bring young and old alike into the political fold and to support the development of political awareness and leadership in the community. #YallaVote is a great mechanism to make this happen!
Yara Beydoun, Yalla Vote Field Organizer in Michigan:
Yara is a Field Organizer at the Arab American Institute. Raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and a Michigan citizen for over 10 years, she received a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan. Before joining AAI, Yara was a research assistant at Northwestern University’s Neurology of Pain Lab. Her experiences with collection and interpretation of human data give her a unique perspective as she joins the voter engagement arena. She is dedicated to helping equip all community members with the necessary tools and platform to stimulate more conducive discourse and representation.
Basma Alawee, Yalla Vote Field Organizer in Florida:
Basma Alawee came to the United States from Iraq in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Material Engineering. Her experience of arriving in the United States has made her keenly aware of the issues refugees face. It was very difficult to leave the security of her career as an Engineer with the Ministry of Oil, her home, and family, but the circumstances surrounding the war made her seek a fresh start. Her flexible nature, resilient determination, and self-motivation served her well as she made this transition.
As she was learning how to find a job, secure housing, and complete all of the necessary paperwork, Basma realized these tasks are difficult for many refugees. She began to volunteer to help refugees at several organizations, such as World Relief and Lutheran Social Services.
Her work with refugees was recognized and she was selected to be a Florida delegate at the UNHCR Refugee Congress in December of 2013, and to be on the board of the Refugee Center online to help the translate GED/ citizenship program.
Basma’s love of children and math led her to teach at The Foundation Academy for 5 years. She loved introducing students to her passion for math and science, as well as organizing them to volunteer with newly arriving refugees.
Basma is attending FSCJ pursuing a degree in accounting technology management. She is also a Florida Refugee Organizer with Florida Immigrant Coalition and We are America, advocating for and lifting the voices of Florida’s refugees.