Posted by Guest on June 07, 2017 in Blog

12489220_176691139355452_8692522595690989712_o.jpgBy Kai Wiggins

He's young. He's passionate. He's committed to public service. And you can even find him on Snapchat. Meet Michigan State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn). Representing the state’s 15th district, Hammoud is a proactive legislator and consistent advocate for the people of Michigan.

Hammoud draws from a range of academic, professional and civic experiences in his capacity as a lawmaker. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2010, which he followed up with a master's in epidemiology and genetics from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health in 2012. Hammoud has also authored and co-authored three publications on healthcare policy and is currently pursuing an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. In addition to his experiences in the private sector as a healthcare consultant and data analyst, Hammoud was a tireless public servant long before he ran for office. He has volunteered with the Detroit Economic Club, and has served as a board member on Michigan’s League of Conservation Voters and the SAFE Substance Abuse Coalition.

15966274_363885647302666_2781566626303288790_n.jpgIn addition to an exceptional resume, the 27-year-old state rep. from Dearborn has a promising career in public service. Hammoud attributes much of his success to the love and support his parents. His mother, Ghada, and his father, Hussein, emigrated from Lebanon separately and met in Michigan, where they worked hard to provide for Abdullah and each of his four siblings. Settling in Dearborn, Ghada and Hussein raised their children by example. After obtaining her GED, Ghada received a degree in accounting and opened her own small business. Hussein, like his wife, has worked hard while contributing to his community. He opened a small grocery store in 2007 and is now the manager for a local supermarket. Hammoud’s adoration for his parents is evident when speaking of his childhood, frequently underscoring their emphasis on education and the importance of learning, working hard and giving back.  

One of five children, Hammoud’s commitment to public service deepened following the death of his brother Ali in 2015. Surrounded by his family, he took the oath of office on what would have been Ali’s 29th birthday, stating, “Among an ocean of lessons about making people laugh, living to the fullest, and staying true to who you are, my brother, Ali, taught me how to be a thoughtful advocate for others. I had the opportunity to put into action all that he instilled in me.” 

14962676_329790724045492_4133767052899475044_n.jpgIt is the inspiration he draws from his family, in addition to his middle class upbringing, that compels Hammoud to advocate for the needs of working people across the state of Michigan. In his time as a lawmaker, he has focused on public health issues that disproportionately affect poor and working class communities, including access to clean drinking water. He has also co-authored a succession of bills on campaign reform and discriminatory auto insurance policies. Even when he is not on the statehouse floor, Hammoud continues to represent the interests of his constituents, recently publishing an op-ed in The Detroit News urging the review into questionable ties between state agencies and industries contributing to air pollution in SE Michigan. 

As an Arab American and American Muslim, Hammoud has been outspoken against all forms of discrimination, including anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bigotry. Citing the nationwide increase of hate crimes and threats against minorities and the LGBTQ community, he has pushed for more thorough investigations into acts of discrimination and violence. This past February, Hammoud introduced a resolution in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. In addition to condemning the order’s implementation, he appealed to American values and his hometown of Dearborn, stating: “Policies like these go against the principles of inclusion and diversity that America claims to stand for. Dearborn, in particular, thrives on its cultural vibrancy and diversity in very large part due to its immigration population.”

Read more stories about Arab immigrants and their descendants on the "Together We Came" main page.

Kai Wiggins is a 2017 Summer Intern at the Arab American Institute.