Posted by Joan Hanna on October 12, 2017 in Blog
Nadeen Hayden has never run away from a challenge, on the contrary, she’s embraced them with enthusiasm. This is due, in part, to characteristics that her parents taught her and her siblings: hard work and the importance of education. “There was no other priorities in our home except diligence and education. Because my father was a refugee, he lived under the impression that you could have nothing in an instant. He stressed that we had to be self sufficient. And education was something that no one could take away from you.” This year, Hayden faces her next challenge, to become a public servant for the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court.
Her father, Nizar Nassar, was an 18-year-old refugee from Palestine who immigrated to Kentucky before moving to Ohio. Her mother’s family, originally from Beitunia, Palestine, settled in Chicago’s southside in the 1950s. Nizar worked various jobs to save up for tuition costs and eventually attended Youngstown University, graduating with a masters in electrical engineering, while her mother, Rowida, worked in the retail industry. She followed in her parent’s footsteps and was dedicated to her studies and becoming self sufficient. Hayden graduated from Cleveland State University with her BA in two and a half years, taking 22 credits per semester. At 21 years old, Hayden found Cleveland-Marshall College of Law a difficult experience, but her diligence and determination carried her across the finish line three years later. As a testament to her father’s work ethic, she has continuously been employed since the age of 16. After graduating from law school, she gained experience working at an insurance firm, a small law practice and serving as a Judicial Staff Attorney to the Administrative and Presiding Judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Nancy Fuerst. Currently, she is on the litigation team at Synenberg, Coletta & Moran, LLC.
Growing up in Warren, Ohio, Hayden knew she and her family were different. But that didn’t stop her from being proud of her Arab heritage or from learning that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. When she was a teenager, Hayden had the opportunity to spend the summer in Palestine, which gave her a better understanding and appreciation of the region her parents hailed from. “When I was 16, I had the privilege to travel to the West Bank with my family. It was my first time to Palestine and I felt at home. I felt a connection to the land, the way of life, to the people. I didn’t have to explain to anyone where I was from. It was nice to be around so many people that grew up like I did.” Throughout her personal and professional career, Hayden has learned not to judge people right away, as she has so often been. “I’m a young female attorney who is often judged as soon as I walk in the door. I don’t appreciate those preconceived assumptions. I know I am informed, passionate and engaged in my work. In all of my interactions, I make an effort to let people be heard and give them their due time.”
At 34, Hayden could be one of the youngest Judges in Cleveland Heights. The hours she has dedicated to her personal and professional growth are a tribute to the values her family instilled and her journey is one that is inspiring for other young Arab Americans looking to make a difference.