Posted on September 08, 2011 in Arab American Institute

Join AAI and NNAAC as we work together to build community capacity and confront challenges both at home and abroad. Arab American leaders from across the country will gather in Dearborn, Michigan to work on three distinct though complementary tracks: Advocacy, Community Building and Organizing. Within this framework and with the realization that we can most effectively advocate for change here at home, we will work to:

  • Get Arab Americans involved and their voices heard (Community Building)
  • Promote better understanding of the Arab world (Organizing)
  • Promote the civil rights of Arab Americans and American Muslims (Advocacy)
  • Enhance US-Arab Relations and promote investment in the region (Advocacy)
  • Support Palestinian human rights and freedom (Advocacy)

Thursday, September 29, 2011 – Pre-Conference Events


Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Avenue
Dearborn, MI 48126
Phone (313) 582-2266

3:30 – 5:30 p.m. - NNAAC Advisory Board Meeting (NNAAC members only)

6:00 – 7:30 p.m. - Special Screeing of the documentary film Wham! Bam! Islam! with Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of "The 99"
The screening will take place at the Arab American National Museum and will be followed by a question and answer session with film director Isaac Solotaroff and Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa.

7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Networking Reception

Friday, September 30, 2011


DoubleTree Dearborn-Detroit (Detroit, MI)
5801 Southfield Expressway
Detroit, MI 48228
(313) 336-3340

Friday night Gala will be held at Byblos Banquet Hall:
7258 Chase Road, Dearborn, MI 48126. (313) 584-1234

8:00 a.m. - Registration opens

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. - Informal Networking Breakfast

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. - NNAAC Business Meeting (NNAAC members only)

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. - Conference Opening Remarks
Hear from AAI and ACCESS leadership about what we hope to accomplish in the next three days and how it will lay the groundwork for our work in the one-year lead up to the November 2012 election.

  • Hassan Jaber, Executive Director, ACCESS
  • James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute

10:45 – 12:15 p.m. - Concurrent Workshops

A. Tapping Employee and Volunteer Motivation
Staff and volunteers who do issue-based work are generally very passionate about what they do – it is why they do it, after all. But burnout is a real problem in the non-profit sector and particularly in the case of working on issues that rarely result in traditional victories. Join us for a workshop on how to keep staff and volunteers motivated, energized and doing their best work.

B. Maximizing Earned Income (Advanced Level)
In challenging economic times, non-profits have to work that much harder to identify additional revenue sources. In this workshop, we will examine ways in which a non-profit organization can utilize the fee-for-service model to generate much-needed additional funds.

C. Civil Liberties, National Security & Immigration Reform
Presenter: Raja Khouri, President and Co-Founder, Canadian Arab Institute
From NSEERS to Secure Communities to the Dream Act, the debate on racial profiling and the various issues that impact our most basic rights appears to be stalled in the lead up to 2012. This workshop will provide tangible action items on myriad of pending immigration and civil rights issues.

12:15 – 1:30 p.m. - Luncheon: Immigration Reform Post 9/11

  • Ishmael Ahmed, Associate Provost for Integrated Learning and Community Partnerships, University of Michigan - Dearborn
  • Reem Bahdi, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor (Ontario)
  • Ahmad Chebbani, Chairman, American Arab Chamber of Commerce
  • Hassan Jaber, Executive Director, ACCESS
  • James Zogby, President and Founder, Arab American Institute

As expected in the lead up to the 2012 presidential elections, efforts at comprehensive immigration reform have been stalled by politics in Washington. But what about other factors that have impacted immigration policy? This forum will examine the unique circumstances confronting Arab American and American Muslims as counterterrorism policies, national security issues and safety at border crossings have become paramount to the immigration reform discussion post 9/11.

1:45 – 3:15 p.m. - Concurrent Workshops

A. Telling Your Financial Stories to Funders
In this workshop you will learn the most effective and creative ways to write grants and proposals that grab donors’ attention, weaving your organization’s story with the facts necessary to demonstrate need. Getting funders to connect with your mission and story is key to moving beyond financial survival to sustainability.

B. Innovative Practices for Nonprofits
Hear from individuals whose organizations have benefitted from nontraditional staffing structures, creative fieldwork, and engaging young leaders on their boards.

3:30 – 5:00 p.m. - Concurrent Workshops

A. Improving Your Media Outreach
Whether traditional or new media, developing effective messaging and outreach so that your ideas and stories are told is a key component of successful organizing. This workshop will cover lessons learned and specific approaches both individuals and non-profits can take in working with print, online and television media outlets.

B. Executive Directors’ Exchange (Advanced Level)


7:00 – 10:00 p.m. - AAI Yalla Change 2012 Gala Banquet

 Byblos Banquet Hall
7258 Chase Road, Dearborn
Phone (313) 584-1234

Join local community leaders and elected officials, members of Congress, and various Yalla Change partners for the launch of the Yalla Change campaign.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


DoubleTree Dearborn-Detroit (Detroit, MI)
5801 Southfield Expressway
Detroit, MI 48228
(313) 336-3340

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. - Networking Breakfast
Breakfast will feature topic-specific table discussions based on suggestions made during Friday’s sessions and workshops.

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. - Opening Policy Plenary
“Arab Americans Today: Who We Are, What We Care About and How We Will Shape 2012”
Join all conferees for a community-based discussion of the issues that define our agenda and how we will tackle them during the conference. We will hear each other’s priorities and formulate a strategy for collectively moving forward on the local, state and national level.

10:45 – 12:00 - Defeating Hate Legislation: From Arizona Copycats to Sharia

In this workshop we will discuss the rampant emergence of hate legislation, including the Arizona copycat laws and Sharia bans now in nearly two dozen states across the country. We will examine why it is important for the Arab American community to be an integral partner and voice in the campaigns against these dangerous initiatives.

  • Matt Duss, Policy Analyst, Director Middle East Progress, Center for American Progress
  • Matt Heinz, Arizona State Representative
  • Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum
  • Dawud Walid, Executive Director, CAIR Michigan.

Concurrent NNAAC Member Workshop:
Building Your Board of Directors
A Board of Directors can be one of your most powerful assets in supporting your organization’s work and mission, but building a Board that is both effective and accountable isn’t easy. This workshop will show you the importance of creating a Board with a range of skill sets and diverse backgrounds, as well as how to identify potential board members, recruitment strategies, board structure, and board renewal and transition.

12:00 - 1:30 p.m. - NNAAC National Awards Luncheon Honoring Public Service

Keynote Speaker and Award presentations.

1:45 – 3:15 p.m. - Islamophobia: The New Politics of Exclusion

 Hear from experts on the funding and coordination behind a campaign that seeks to diminish the political engagement of an entire community.

  • Max Blumenthal, Investigative journalist and best selling author
  • Wajahat Ali, Playwright, essayist, humorist, attorney and principal author of Center for American Progress’ report entitled “Fear, Inc: The Roots of Islamophobia.”
  • Maya Berry, Executive Director, Arab American Institute

Concurrent NNAAC Member Workshop:
The Four Big Secrets to Getting Donors to Give

3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Concurrent Workshops

A. From Online to On-the-Ground
It started in Tunisia and has now spread across the Arab world – new media as an organizing tool. This workshop will look at effective social media campaigns around social justice issues and how the Internet can be used to mobilize communities on the ground.

B. Making the Case for the Impact of Cultural Programs

4:30 – 6:00 p.m. - Community Dialogue on Syria

For months now, we have witnessed an acceleration of deadly violence and repression in Syria.  Without any sign of abatement, the concern is that the situation will continue to spin further out of control, with lawlessness, calls for revenge and sectarian violence growing.  Thus far, US policy has called on Assad to "step aside" and "get out of the way" of a transition in Syria and we have imposed severe economic sanctions to further isolate the regime financially.  There have been expressions of concern from various world leaders, including those from the Arab world.  And here at home, there is great worry for the current suffering of the people of Syria and the country’s future.  However, while there is agreement on the concern for the Syrian people, there is real disagreement about what our policy should be toward Syria.  Join us for a much-needed national Arab American dialogue on US policy toward Syria.  We will hear from community members with a full spectrum of views and attempt to arrive at areas of mutual understanding, if not agreement. 

We will be joined for portions of this meeting by Frederic Hof, Special Coordinator for Regional Affairs at the Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.

7:00 – 11:00 p.m. - Leadership on the Town
Join conference attendees and community members as we dine and explore the heart of Dearborn’s Arab American community.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


DoubleTree Dearborn-Detroit (Detroit, MI)
5801 Southfield Expressway
Detroit, MI 48228
(313) 336-3340

8:15 – 9:00 a.m. - Breakfast

9:00 – 11:00 a.m. - Arab Spring: What Change Abroad Means for Change at Home

Undoubtedly, the most dramatic political development of the year has been the uprisings that sparked across the Arab world. While the uprisings have developed very differently in different countries, there is one thing that can be said with certitude: the Middle East will never be the same. From the euphoria that followed the fall of Mubarak, to the escalating violence spreading throughout Syria, and everything in between, new realities require urgent changes in our policies. If anything, the uprisings highlighted how outdated US policy towards the region has been. As the significance of Arab public opinion is now better understood, so is the significance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recent developments, particularly in Turkey and Egypt, further highlight the impending escalation that would accompany leaving the question of Palestine unresolved. With public discourse changing nationally and internationally, the Arab American community has a unique and timely opportunity to influence future US policy towards the Middle East, and this will be a discussion on how best to do that.

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. - 2012: What We Can Accomplish
After three days of conference workshops, policy sessions and collaborative planning, we will wrap up the conference with a closing plenary that will assess the current landscape, preview the issue debate and strategize about what we hope to accomplish in the lead up to November 2012.

11:00 a.m. - The Current Political Landscape

  • John Zogby, Renowned pollster, political pundit and AAI board member

11:45 a.m. - A Forecast of the Issues of the 2012 Campaign

12:45 p.m. - Moderated Q&A

  • James Zogby moderates conversation with John Zogby, Grover Norquist and Mark Brewer

1:30 p.m. - Looking Forward

2:00 p.m. - Conclude




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