Posted by Guest on February 23, 2017 in Blog

By Samantha Leathley


Washington. D.C. can be a daunting place. In addition to the chaos of the city, which itself can easily overwhelm newcomers, the political landscape can be difficult to navigate. But the combination of bustling activity and political gravity is precisely what draws many young professionals to move here.                       

How can young people learn to thrive in the chaos, so that we may best work in this city which we have chosen to live? How can we confront the various issues that may hinder our progress, such as burnout, stress, or the challenge of being the youngest person in the room? 

Our speaker Rachel Palermo, a young Arab-American and former Assistant Press Secretary and Director of Women’s Media for the DNC, offered some 

insightful answers to these questions during AAI’s first Arab American Generations event of 2017. When asked how she takes on professional challenges, particularly as a young person, Rachel’s responses centered largely on one theme: knowing your worth. Following the election, as many Arab Americans and other communities in D.C. are constantly inundated with reminders of the current hostile environment, her message is a necessary one.

From knowing your worth, Rachel stressed, springs the confidence to reach out to more experienced professionals who you admire. She noted that even just grabbing a coffee with someone you would like to learn from, and showing interest in their work, can be the starting point to a valuable relationship with a mentor or friend.DSC_2627.JPG

Rachel’s clear enthusiasm for the city, and for her current position as Public Affairs Associate with strategic communications firm SKDKnickerbocker, combined with her conviction in urging young audience members not to limit themselves by shying away from challenging job opportunities, was a reminder that while the Trump Administration pursues bigoted policies, we can still be part of a resilient DC.

As the Generations event came to a close, many younger audience members approached Rachel to thank her, to ask questions and to ask her to grab coffee.

This is what our Generations program is all about. The Arab American community in D.C. can be a valuable resource—for mentorship, leadership, and friendship. Any and all Arab Americans are welcome to participate: if you are interested, please contact Maha Elsamahi.

Samantha Leathley is a Spring 2017 intern at the Arab American Institute.