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AAC Update: October 2023 to March 2024

To our community members,

I write to you to give an update on what Arab Americans of Cleveland - Young Professionals Network has been up to since the fall of 2023 to March of 2024.

Since the events of October 7th, 2023, Arab Americans of Cleveland dedicated time and efforts to respond to the community’s needs. On October 16th, 2023, I spoke in front of Cleveland City Council to demand extra protective measures to be given to our community against hate and discrimination. On October 29th, 2023, AAC collaborated with the Palestinian American Heritage Society to host a fundraiser benefiting UNRWA USA raising $4,500. Furthermore, I worked with Cleveland City Council Member Jenny Spencer to hold an informative meeting for Palestinian community leaders and other council members. The meeting was held on November 29th, 2023 and was attended by Cleveland Council Members Jenny Spencer, Rebecca Maurer, Brian Kazy, Danny Kelly and Stephanie Howse-Jones. Also in November, I was invited to attend the 40th Anniversary Gala for the National Council on US-Arab Relations in Washington, DC and had the honor of meeting HRH Prince Turki Alfaisal. In December of 2023, AAC hosted its 3rd Annual Networking Mixer. The event was attended by over 230 individuals who listened to a panel of Arab American Professionals, and enjoyed several networking activities. The event also raised $4,000 for PCRF and UNRWA USA. 


Also in December, I held a meeting with Cleveland City Council President attended by the Council President Blaine Griffin, and AAC’s Vice President of Internal Affairs Mohammad Faraj. Also in December, Mohammad and I met with the City of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb urging him to provide measures to combat hate against Arabs and to protect our community.  The week of December 6th was a busy week for me and Mohammad as we were invited to a meeting with the White House Public Engagement Office and the National Security Council in Washington, DC. In this meeting, we continued our advocacy and represented the needs of our community in Cleveland. Furthermore, we held a meeting with then Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge. The meeting was an introductory meeting in which Mohammad and I discussed community needs with the Secretary and explored how we can bridge Cleveland’s Arab American community with the Nation’s capital. Also during that week, Mohammad and I were invited to attend the Bahraini National Day event held in the National Gallery in Washington, DC where they met with the Saudi Ambassador HRH Princess Reema Al Saud, Congressman Joe Wilson and Congressman Andre Carson. 

In January of 2024, I was invited again to the White House to meet with the WH Liaison to the Muslim Community Mazen Basrawi. I also held a meeting with several staffers on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Summer Lee. In these meetings, I advocated on issues concerning Cleveland and NorthEast Ohio’s Arab American community, while also advocating for the administration to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and South of Lebanon and increase humanitarian aid to Gaza.

In February, I attended a meeting with Cole Bockenfeld, Senior Foreign Affairs Advisor in Senator Chris Murphy’s (Member of Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair of Subcommittee on Near Eastern Affairs) office. In this meeting, I commended Senator Murphy’s call for a ceasefire, while also urging the Senate to do more on reinstating UNRWA’s funding, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, and in South Lebanon. I also held a brief meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown’s Legislative Correspondent Diop Harris II to encourage the Senator to call for a ceasefire and advocate for a meeting with Arab American community leaders. I also had a brief meeting with the President of the Middle East Institute Paul Salem. The meeting focused on ways to assist Arab American students and identifying options for students in Northeast Ohio to intern or engage in research in the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. On February 26th, 2024, I received a call from the Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar in which we discussed ways to assist the Jordanian American community specifically, and the Arab Community at large in NorthEast Ohio. The Ambassador was excited about AAC’s work and commended the role AAC is engaging in within the professional space.

In March, AAC hosted Tariq Habash, former senior appointee in the U.S. Department of Education for an Arab American Student Workshop. During Habash’s visit, AAC coordinated a meeting with several Cleveland City Council Members attended by Councilmembers Kerry McCormack, Rebecca Maurer, Jenny Spencer, Stephanie Howse-Jones, and Kris Harsh. Also, I took a trip to Washington, DC to meet with Omar Noureldin, Senior Counsel at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. This meeting was focused on discussing the rise of anti-Arab hate crimes and discrimination, while also looking at ways to support Arab American students on college campuses. AAC represented by our VP of Internal Affairs Mohammad Faraj will now work with the DOJ to identify issues on campuses in Northeast Ohio, and see how we can assist students. During my time in Washington, DC, I attended a panel discussion on Capitol Hill on Yemen, judged a day’s activities for the National Universities’ Model Arab League, and represented AAC at the Muslim Americans in Public Service Iftar. In addition to the above, AAC received its 501(c)(3) status in March of 2024. It took years of planning, strategizing, and solidifying our mission, values, and goals. 

Other AAC Board Members have also been actively busy helping community members in different capacities. I want to especially mention our VP of Internal Affairs Mohammad Faraj who has been mentoring, assisting, and advocating for college students. VP Faraj has been on the ground and in virtual spaces with several community members gathering information, and facilitating meetings to assist individuals in need. Furthermore, I want to thank our board member Melaak Rashid, who’s work with the refugees, and other non-profit organizations mentorship proved needed and successful during the past few months. Our VP of Programs Jamal Julia Boudiab has been developing our upcoming Professional Development program, while also leading the group Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi at Cleveland Public Theatre. Our Treasurer Victor Kirallah has been extremely helpful with the process of AAC receiving its charity status, and planning our 2024 budget. Our secretary Imaan Ganim has held the fort, taking notes, communicating internally and externally, and working closely with me to identify key goals for the year 2024. I want to thank all our board members for their courage, dedication, and devotion to the betterment of our community and to the growth of AAC. 

Our work is going to continue and will continue to grow. This year, we are planning a Non-Profit 101 Training for young students and organizations, an Arab American Business Expo, a series of Professional Development events, and an interactive networking mixer in December. Our largest project this year is the Arab American Students’ Scholarship Program. It fits in our mission, and it fulfills the promise we made to ensure that Arab American students are being set for success. 

Thank you for your support. None of the above would have been possible without you, and our vibrant community. AAC is going to continue this work, and will continue to grow with you, and for you. Your donations will ensure that the work continues, as we build capacity, and find more avenues to support our community. 


Omar Kurdi - President 

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