Posted on December 11, 2009 in Arab American Institute

 

Established in 1985 and based in Washington, DC, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a non-profit nonpartisan national leadership organization. AAI was created to nurture and encourage the direct participation of Arab Americans in political and civic life in the United States.

Arab Americans constitute an ethnicity made up of several waves of immigrants from the Arabic-speaking countries of southwestern Asia and North Africa that have been settling in the United States since the 1880s. Today, AAI represents a constituency of nearly 3.5 million Americans of Arab descent, living in all 50 states.

AAI’s founders laid the groundwork for the first organization to represent the needs and issues of Arab Americans and to create a national sense of community while encouraging assimilation. Highlights of AAI’s work include:

  • Hosting of President Clinton and Vice President Gore at the first-ever addresses by a President or Vice President at national Arab American conferences.
  • Hosted major public addresses by top level Administration officials – Democrat and Republican – as well as international leaders including former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa.
  • Convened national and local organizations for national leadership summits to respond to crises facing the community including: 9/11 and its aftermath, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and civil rights.
  • Organized numerous Middle East visits for members of Congress to Lebanon and Syria, and Arab American elected officials who monitored elections in Palestine.
  • Improved Arab American outreach on Capitol Hill by:
    • Establishing a government relations department and a national grassroots network to mobilize community action on pending legislation and interact with members of Congress
    • Helping to coordinate meetings of Arab American community with members of Congress
    • Hosting annual events on Capitol Hill attended by dozens of Congress members
    • Working with Congress members to schedule hearings regarding foreign and domestic policy; testified before those and other important hearings
    • Providing regular updates to AAI members on legislation before Congress
    • Initiating dialogue with Department of Justice and Transportation on secret evidence, airline profiling and other federal policies that contain anti-Arab bias
    • Spearheading Arab American outreach to the Census Bureau and organized a national coalition of ethnic groups to maximize ethnic involvement in Census
    • Supporting Arab American nominations to diplomatic, judicial and other government posts, including appointments to represent Arab Americans at White House conferences
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