Posted on March 06, 2012 in Arab American Institute

Ambassador Theodore H. Kattouf
Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service

Following graduation from Pennsylvania State University, Ambassador Theodore Kattouf served 3-1/2 years in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of captain. In 1972, he joined the U.S. Foreign Service, embarking on a 30-year career that included postings to Iraq, Kuwait, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia as well as service as U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (1998-2001) and Syria (2001-03). He also pursued mid-career graduate studies at Princeton University and received numerous distinctions, including the Cobb Award for outstanding advocacy on behalf of U.S. companies, four Senior Performance Awards, and one Presidential Honor Award. As president and CEO of Washington, DC-based AMIDEAST since 2003, he has overseen a tripling of the size of this leading provider of training, educational exchange, and development services in the Middle East and North Africa, and a quadrupling of its endowment. Amb. Kattouf is the recipient of the 2012 Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service.


Arab Thought Foundation
Award for International Commitment

Established in May 2000, by His Royal Highness Prince Khaled Al Faisal, the governor of Makkah, the Arab Thought Foundation (ATF) is an independent, non-profit, non- governmental Arab organization based in Beirut, Lebanon.

ATF’s guiding mission is to achieve Arab cultural cohesiveness, promoting and preserving Arab identity while celebrating other cultures. In this vein, the Foundation promotes dialogue among youth, Arab immigrants and international and regional institutions dedicated to promoting Arab culture and solidarity, and works to promote common humanitarian values.

The Foundation sponsors several awards that honor pioneers and innovators, and hosts cultural and media programs that contribute to international dissemination of works, programs, and ideas from the Arab business and academic fields.

H.R.H. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal is the Foundation’s President, working closely with the Board of Trustees, Board of Directors, Advisory Committee and General Secretariat.


Southern Poverty Law Center
Award for Institutional Excellence

Established in Alabama in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center has earned its reputation as a beacon of light in some of our nation’s most troubling times. Dedicated to “to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society,” the Center is perhaps best known for its lawsuits against white supremacist organizations throughout the South. But today, hundreds of thousands of people count on SPLC’s research and publications to enhance their work on behalf of immigrants and minorities. Educators and legislators, activists and media simply could not be as effective were it not for the resources SPLC provides —from its quarterly magazine Intelligence Report to its in-school “Teaching Tolerance” program to its Academy-Award winning films “Mighty Times: The Children’s March” and “A Time for Justice.” For its tireless efforts to foster a society that respects all its members, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or political backgrounds, the Southern Poverty Law Center is receiving the Award for Institutional Excellence.


The Muslims Are Coming! Comedy Tour
Special Recognition

In 2011, Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah launched The Muslims are Coming! Comedy Tour. Making its way from the Deep south through the Midwest, the tour stopped in small towns and at college campuses not just to perform free shows, but to engage locals in discussions about pop culture, social issues, and Islam—or, more specifically, Islamophobia. The tour opened in Gainesville, Florida, hometown of notorious Pastor Terry Jones. It also stopped to perform a free show in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where a mosque under construction had been vandalized numerous times, and the local community was forced to get a court order to complete the building. Farsad and Obeidallah filmed the tour and for a documentary which will hopefully released this year to expand the project's reach.

As the Arab American on the team, Dean Obeidallah is familiar to many in the community for his work with the groundbreaking Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and the Amman (Jordan) Stand Up Comedy Festival—the first annual stand up comedy festival ever in the Arab world. The common thread in these works—whether on television, in comedy clubs or a documentary—is the use of laughter to break down cultural barriers, to humanize ethnic and religious minorities, and, in so doing, to lay the groundwork for dialogs that celebrate our commonalities rather than exploiting our differences.

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