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Co Founder - President
My name is Omar Kurdi; a first-generation American from Jordan with a mixed background of Palestinian, Lebanese, & Kurdish. I’m the Co-Founder of Arab Americans of Cleveland - Young Professionals Network. I’m the CEO of Friends for Life Rehabilitation Services; an agency that provides vocational training & day services to adults with developmental disabilities. Outside of work, I sit on the Board of Cleveland Public Theatre, Advisory Committee of Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi (Cleveland Arab Theatre). I previously served on the Community Advisory Board for Ideastream (local NPR affiliate). In August 2020, I was selected as one of Cleveland's Notable Immigrant Leaders by the Crain's Cleveland Business Magazine. In October 2020, I was selected as one of 40 Under 40 influential Arab Americans by the Arab America Foundation. In November 2021, I was selected as one of 40 Under 40 Business Leaders by the Crain's Cleveland Business Magazine. In 2023, I received the Northeast Ohio Top 25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers Award from the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club.
I was born in San Francisco; CA. I grew up in Oman & Jordan. I moved to Cleveland in 2007. I graduated with my master’s in Public Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2019, & my bachelor’s in International Relations & Middle Eastern Studies from Cleveland State University in 2013. Growing up, I appreciated the rich artistic nature of our culture. I’m grateful to have been exposed to different cultures, traditions & faiths throughout my upbringing. I thank my diverse family for that. Naguib Mahfouz’s books also influenced my upbringing. My drive for promoting Arab American causes has been influenced by the Arab American Institute. My passion for Arab culture & heritage has been inspired by every encounter that I’ve had with an Arab throughout my life. My work in the mental health field opened my eyes to the importance of discussing mental health with fellow Arab Americans. Therefore, I believe AAC to be vital in our efforts to connect & strengthen our influence in the community. We can do so much when we work together & care for each other. On a personal level, I’ve been inspired by my grandmother. She was an Arabic language teacher for 39 years in UNRWA schools for Palestinian refugees in Jordan. She instilled that passion for the arts, education, & culture in me. I’m proud to be an Arab American, & to be an enthusiast of Arab art & culture. We can teach & learn so much about our heritage through the arts. I hope that our community continues to embrace that. And as Khalil Gibran once said; “Art is a step from what is obvious & well-known toward what is arcane & concealed.”
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