Posted by Yasmin Hussein on March 10, 2016 in Blog
The Honorable Suzanne Sareini
Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service
As a wave of anti-Arab sentiment confronted Dearborn and challenged our community’s place in Michigan, Suzanne Sareini stepped forward to run for City Council in 1989. She went on to become the first ever Arab American elected to public office in that city. Drawing on multi-ethnic support, she was reelected for six consecutive terms.
As a second generation community member who was born in Dearborn, Ms. Sareini’s public service began in her youth at the family restaurant. One of the most well known Arabic restaurants in the area, it was a place where the community members could gather and help one another find their footing. Later, as Sareini established herself as a realtor and entrepreneur opening many restaurants and small businesses, she discovered a passion for helping people. As part of the Dix Avenue Business Association, Sareini spoke for the community when it was difficult to do so. After local officials tried to push Arab Americans out of Dearborn’s south end, Suzanne Sareini said “we’re committed to stay.”
During her more than two decades on the city council, Councilwoman Sareini put special focus on the needs of seniors, women and children, never losing sight of the importance of family and community ties. “I know how crucial it is to look at an issue from the perspective of what is good for Dearborn, not what is good for an ideological cause.” As the mother of four children and a grandmother to fourteen, she found still more time to expand her public service.
In addition to serving on the City Council, Ms. Sareini served on the Arab American Advisory Committee, as well as the Michigan Women's Commission, and was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
In all things, Ms. Sareini represented her constituents with determination, boldness, bipartisanship, and gave an ear to the city’s many voices and needs. For over 25 years, her commitment to the empowerment of the Arab American community has paved the way for many others across the country to run for office, while her commitment to her constituents has demonstrated the true spirit of public service. It is because of this and much more that we are honored to award Ms. Sareini with the 2016 Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service.
The Honorable Suzanne Sareini will be honored along with fellow Gibran awardees the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Unite Lebanon Youth Project, and Jamie Farrat AAIF’s 18th annual Gibran Gala. We hope you will join us too. Please purchase your ticket today.
18th Annual Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW Washington, D.C.
5:30 Reception | 6:30 Gala