Posted on April 19, 2010 in Press Releases

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and others to be honored

Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will join members of Congress, foreign dignitaries and other distinguished guests in honoring awardees at this year’s Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 21, 2010.

Marking the Arab American Institute’s (AAI) 25th Anniversary, this year’s awards gala honors four individuals and one corporation for their work promoting inclusion, cultural understanding and cooperation across ethnic, racial and religious lines:

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will receive the award for Individual Achievement for his leadership role in the Sister City program between Chicago and Arab capitals and for outreach on behalf of Chicago’s communities to the world. Judge Rosemary Barkett of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will receive the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service, an annual award recognizing excellence in government service by an American of Arab descent.

AAI will honor Mr. Abdulrahman Zeitoun whose extraordinary story of adversity amidst false allegation of terrorism and deeds of heroism during Hurricane Katrina were the inspiration for best selling author Dave Eggers’ book Zeitoun. Receiving the award for Institutional Excellence is The Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS). CNCS delivers programs designed to help communities address poverty, the environment, education, and other unmet human needs. CNCS is the nation’s largest grant maker supporting service and volunteerism at all ages.

Juma Al Majid, a highly respected businessman and philanthropist, is being recognized with the award for International Commitment for more than 50 years of dedicating financial, humanitarian, and academic resources to his community in the United Arab Emirates, including the establishment of the Juma Al Majid Center for Culture and Heritage, a non-profit reference library and research institute that boasts more than 400,000 titles in Arabic, English, French, German, Russian, and other languages.

AAI President James Zogby noted, “As we celebrate AAI’s quarter century of encouraging civic engagement and empowering Arab Americans, we could not envision a more fitting group of awardees.”

This year’s recipients join a long list of distinguished awardees including U.S. Senator George Mitchell, Her Majesty Queen Noor al-Hussein, former president of Poland Lech Walesa, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and celebrity humanitarians Sting and Muhammad Ali.

Launched in 1999 by the Arab American Institute and Foundation, organizational leaders in the promotion of the political, advocacy and community interests of Arab Americans, the awards gala focuses attention on actions that promote the common good and features prominent leaders from the diplomatic, business, philanthropic, and government sectors. The Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards are named for the renowned Arab American poet and author of The Prophet, whose message of human endurance and triumph was so evident in his life and work.

The Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala benefits the advocacy, research, and policy development programs that AAI and AAIF conduct throughout the year on behalf of Arab Americans nationwide.

The awards will be held at the Renaissance Washington Hotel, 999 Ninth Street, NW (5:30 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. gala). Members of the media interested in covering this event, please RSVP to Omar Tewfik at or 202.429-9210×31.

About the Arab American Institute
Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information on AAI, please visit or call 202-429-9210.