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Arab America Foundation Announces 40 Under 40 Awardees--Class of 2024

posted on: Mar 27, 2024

For Immediate Release

Washington DC (March 27, 2024): The Arab America Foundation announced today the awardees of their 40 Under 40 initiative–Class of 2024. Forty Arab Americans from a variety of fields and disciplines were announced. Six judges from throughout the country reviewed the applications.

The awardees are Rana Abdelhamid, Roy Abdo, Samah Abukhodeir, Michael Ajami, Mohammad Aljamal, Nagi Alsubai, Melinda Antonious, Robert Asmar, Marwa Bakabas, Carl Hage, Lamiaa Daif, Reem Edan, Hebah El-Rayess, Mohammad Faraj, Joseph Gedeon, Amanda Ghannam, Wafa Ghnaim, Christina Haddad, Christina Hawatmeh, Mona Hussein-Yasin, Amal Issa, Dina Jazrawi, Khulud Khudur, Amera-Rime Lulu, Micheline Maalouf, Hannah Moushabeck, Anthony Mubarak, Heidi Naguib, Neshwa Rajeh, Mico Saad, Sara Maaiki, Sarah Shendy, Mohamed F. Sweify, Mohammed Tafesh, Omar Tarabishi, Alexandra Tarzikhan, Heba Tellawi, Lauren Yaldoo, Sara Yahia, and Maro Youssef.

40 Under 40 is a celebration of accomplished young Arab Americans. The program spotlights Arab American professionals in all fields, including education, law, public service/politics, non-profit, business leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, medical professionals, artists, entertainers, writers, and media representatives. These young professionals have great achievements both in the workplace and in their communities. 

“Celebrating the achievements of our 40 Under 40 awardees is a testament to the remarkable talent and dedication within the Arab American community. These young professionals are catalysts for positive change, shaping a brighter future for us all,” said Warren David, co-founder of the Arab America Foundation and president of Arab America.

All awardees are under the age of 40, excel in their industry, and are engaged in promoting their heritage and culture to empower their communities and make a difference. The competition is open annually to all professionals who live and/or work in the United States and are of Arab descent. 

The Arab America Foundation and its board are grateful for the leadership of the initiative’s coordinators, Nabelah Ghareeb and Elias J. Khalil, as well as the prestigious panel of judges.

About the Arab America Foundation

The Arab America Foundation (AAF) is a non-profit (501c3) educational and cultural organization. The mission of AAF is to promote the Arab heritage, empower and educate others about the Arab identity, connect Arab Americans, and build coalitions with diverse organizations across the U.S.

For more information about the 40 Under 40 initiative, click here.

For more information about the Arab America Foundation, click here.

For media inquiries, contact Claire Boyle here.

The 40 Under 40 Awardees, Class of 2024

Rana Abdelhamid

Rana Abdelhamid is the child of Egyptian immigrants, a community organizer, and 1st Degree Black Belt from Queens, NY. At age 16, after experiencing a hate-based attack, Rana founded Malikah, an antiviolence organization addressing hate and gender-based violence through self-defense, healing, financial literacy, and organizing education. Since then, she has taught over 650 self-defense classes and healing workshops, reaching thousands of women in 32 countries across the globe. Today, she serves as the Executive Director of Malikah and an Echoing Green fellow. Rana served as one of the youngest Board Members of Amnesty International USA for over six years. Rana co-curated an exhibit at MoMA PS1 featuring the stories of 14 North African immigrant women and the history of Little Egypt, highlighting her dedication to historic preservation and her Astoria community. In 2022, she ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 12th congressional district. Currently, Rana is leading a coalition of MENA organizations across NYC to advocate and introduce the first-ever MENA data disaggregation bill and leading MENA advocacy efforts for NY small businesses. She co-founded and led the NY Muslim Organizing Collective, a base-building organization focused on building electoral power for Muslims in NYC. As a speaker and writer, Rana has given a TED talk with nearly 2 million views. Abdelhamid holds a BA in International Politics and Economics from Middlebury College and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. A Truman Scholar and a Running Start Rising Political Star, she has received an NYC Council Proclamation and an International Youth Advocate award from the UNA USA Foundation. Rana is on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and NY’s Middle Eastern & North African Top 50 by City and State.

Roy Abdo

Arab America Foundation Announces 40 Under 40 Awardees--Class of 2024

Roy Abdo is the founder and CEO of Digital Revamp, a media agency specializing in digital strategy, brand building, content creation, and advertising, with offices in Washington, DC, Beirut, and Dubai. Roy’s Lebanese roots and personal resilience have shaped his global leadership in today’s digital age. Digital Revamp supports businesses and thought leaders looking to build their brands through communication strategies, content creation, and global expansions. Clutch and The Manifest have recognized Digital Revamp as the leading digital strategy agency. Abdo found himself a refugee in Greece, and he completed his undergraduate studies and later earned his MBA in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University. Subsequently, he was appointed Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Advertising at Fairfax University of America. Before this, Roy established the first social media department for Alhurra and Radio Sawa, achieving remarkable reach. Later, he joined Gallup as a lead communication consultant, then Booz Allen, and later on the World Bank. He led communication campaigns for the Department of Defense and the World Bank’s Global Agriculture Food Security Program. Roy is also a speaker for the US State Department on digital communication for their international programs. Roy has also invested in local businesses in DC and is a frequent contributor to the media, MTV, Arabia, Skynews, and SHRM Executive Network. 

Samah Abukhodeir

Samah Abukhodeir, founder and managing partner of The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm, established the firm in 2017, practicing Family Law, Probate Law, Guardianship Law, and Estate Planning Law. What began with only a law clerk and a paralegal in 2018 has now blossomed into a network of 7 offices across Florida. Recognized for its rapid growth and impact, the firm earned a coveted spot on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies. Outside the courtroom, Samah extends her expertise to the next generation as an adjunct professor at her alma mater’s undergraduate Honors school. She actively engages with the community through participation in Arab American events, pro-bono work, and philanthropic initiatives.

Michael Ajami

Michael Ajami was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan.  A first-generation Arab-American, he and his family are from Bint Jbeil, Lebanon. Michael graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and from Wayne State Law School, where he obtained his Juris Doctorate. Michael currently works for the Michigan Department of Attorney General, where he heads the department’s expungement unit. Since Michigan enacted the Clean Slate Act, Michael has traveled all over Michigan and assisted thousands of Michiganders with their expungement applications.  Michael also sits on the Wayne County Airport Authority board and is the board Secretary. He was the youngest person appointed to serve on the board at the time of his appointment. In his free time, Michael volunteers as a high school football coach, where he helps develop future leaders on and off the field.  Michael’s greatest accomplishment is being the father of his three young children, Serena, Michael Jr., and Khalil. 

Mohammad Aljamal

Dr. Mohammad Aljamal is from Irbid, Jordan. He received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2017 and 2020, respectively. He has around a decade of experience in engineering and technology transfer services for government agencies and private sectors. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in intelligent transportation systems, modeling and simulation, traffic safety, data analytics, and portfolio/program management. His expertise includes data collection and processing, statistical analysis, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Dr. Aljamal is adept at analyzing project requirements and devising cost-effective strategic solutions and tactical plans. He is proficient in various design and analysis software and computer programming languages. His contributions extend to the academic realm, with multiple research articles published in prestigious journals and conferences. He received the USDOT Award for Outstanding Student of the Year (2018), and 1st place in the IEEE ITSC UAS4T Competition (2020).

Nagi Alsubai

Nagi Alsubai, a trailblazer in nonprofit leadership and the first in his family to attain a Master’s in Education, currently spearheads operations at a global non-profit, directly benefiting over 100,000 people in Yemen, Palestine, Pakistan, and Turkey by addressing critical issues like famine, poverty, and conflict. With a Master’s from Brooklyn College and seasoned experience from the City University of New York and the NYC Department of Education, Nagi has also made significant strides within New York’s Arab community by leading educational and career development initiatives, enhancing opportunities for many. Nagi is notably one of the few pioneering Yemeni men whose advocacy and passion for mental health have led to the creation of Peer Minds. This non-profit provides mental health services through culturally sensitive mentorship and education to MENA and South Asian youth in New York, with expansion plans. His dedication to education, mental health, and community empowerment showcases his profound commitment to humanitarian and development causes.

Melinda Antonious

Meet Melinda Antonious, an Egyptian American trailblazer who has redefined the benchmarks of success in the tech industry. As the founder of a leading management consulting firm, Melinda’s story is one of remarkable transformation, pioneering leadership, contagious energy, and the profound influence of her Egyptian immigrant parents. With over 15 years in product, project, and program management, she has demonstrated an exceptional ability to innovate and lead with a vision that transcends conventional boundaries. Melinda’s contributions have been transformative, evidenced by another recent 40 under 40 APMP award in late 2023, and making Shipley history as the first person to drive and prove a significant impact to the industry with a people-centric approach, challenging the traditional process-oriented paradigm. Her leadership has yielded proven metrics that showcase a dramatic shift in industry standards—prioritizing human elements in management to achieve unprecedented results. This innate skill and approach engrained in her Egyptian DNA and within the fabric of her professional ethos has not only enhanced team morale and global project outcomes but also firmly established her consulting firm as a beacon of excellence and innovation. Melinda’s portfolio of achievements is decorated with industry certifications like Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), Project Management Professional (PMP), Scaled Agile Framework <SAFe> Practice Consultant (SPC), and Certified Proposal Professional (CPP APMP), yet Melinda’s passion to confidently connect with people she works with, raising team morale is what sets her apart. A skill that cannot be taught helps transform the projects she leads globally and helps her deeply understand user needs, which established her as a visionary leader in the technology sector. Melinda Antonious merges resilience and innovation to drive substantial progress in SaaS solutions, leading teams and projects to new heights and maintaining companies at the industry forefront.

Robert Asmar

Robert “Roro” Asmar is a Lebanese-American entrepreneur, chef, and mental health advocate in the Washington, D.C., area. He began his culinary journey starting his award-winning Lebanese food concept in 2016. After the COVID pandemic began in 2020, Roro shifted his focus to working in food manufacturing, hoping to one day bring his Lebanese brand of hummus and pita bread to every dining room table in the country. His hummus products are found in major grocery store chains like Whole Foods and Harris Teeter.

Marwa Bakabas

Marwa Bakabas, a Yemeni American, holds dual graduate degrees in cultural anthropology, specializing in war, displacement, and humanitarianism. As an adjunct professor at George Mason University, she imparts her knowledge to students while actively engaging with FJP and co-founding Citizens for Just Policy. Marwa’s extensive fieldwork in Greece and Lebanon, particularly on Lesvos Island and in Lebanese settlements, reflects her commitment to understanding refugee experiences in crises. Her ethnographic research delves into dwelling dynamics and life transformations among displaced populations, focusing on refugees in temporary settlements and transit camps. Marwa’s advocacy extends to raising awareness through storytelling about displacement experiences and promoting social justice and human rights. She has conducted research at Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece, addressing gender-based violence and aging refugee needs. Marwa’s work has been presented globally at panels and conferences, including her role as a Ludwig Maximilians Universität Munich research fellow. Since 2021, she has facilitated an American-Yemeni student exchange program, producing the podcast “Qisasna” through Steven’s Initiative, fostering collaboration between students in Yemen and the U.S.

Carl Hage

Carl Hage is a Lebanese-American who has lived in Lebanon, Australia, and the USA. He currently works at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is president of Arabs at Amazon, which is an employee resource group of over 4,000 Arab employees. We have held hundreds of events with over 40 chapters in 11 countries, advocating for Arab employees and raising awareness about forms of bias and racism faced by Arabs.

Lamiaa Daif

Lamiaa is a recognized strategy leader at Apple, a certified executive coach, and an investor. She created the Inside-Out Model™ to help organizations and people turn growth opportunities into meaningful and lasting changes. Alongside her work, she serves as a Treasurer and Board member for Resonate Workshops, a non-profit helping women and girls in Africa shape their communities. After spending a decade as a Director in the largest Private Equity Fund in Europe, she’s now an angel investor supporting mission-driven women founders to bring their vision to life. Lamiaa graduated from Stanford Graduate School of Business as a Robert Joss scholar and also holds two master’s degrees in finance from Paris-Dauphine University. She is a TEDx speaker, ‘What your body knows, and mind ignores’, and a regular guest speaker at Stanford Business School and global conferences around women empowerment, leadership, innovation, and business strategy. She moved to the US 7 years ago from France and was born and raised in her home country, Morocco. The USCIS recognized her with an EB2-NIW Green Card, reserved for individuals with exceptional abilities who significantly contribute to the United States’s national interests.

Reem Edan

Reem Edan is an Iraqi-American comedian, content creator, award-winning writer, actress, and former film marketer based in Los Angeles. Her performances have captivated audiences worldwide, appearing on Shahid VIP’s “The Stand-Up Sketch Show,” Laugh After Dark, Sirius XM, and the Dubai Comedy Festival. She’s performed in nine countries, amassed millions of views on her character sketches and culture-bending family videos, and brought audiences to tears at renowned venues across the globe. Using edgy humor, colorful storytelling, and witty commentary, Reem explores her first-generation identity and life between cultures in the gray (or brown) area. While making a name for herself in Hollywood, she’s also worked to impact her community by mentoring children in creative writing and performing at impactful events. Listed in Bustle’s “Five Muslim Women Comedians to Get You Through Social Distancing,” Reem Edan is a comedic force you will never forget.

Dr. Hebah El-Rayess

Dr. Hebah El-Rayess is an Arab American internist and rheumatologist with expertise in public health. She directs the Health Care Society, helping forced and displaced populations and refugees obtain healthcare, with a particular interest in Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Mohammad Faraj

Mohammad Faraj serves as the Enterprise Risk Manager at Bitcoin Depot, bringing expertise in risk management, compliance, and legal matters. Holding a JD from Valparaiso University and dual degrees in Sociology and Biology from Cleveland State University, he has honed his skills across banking, cryptocurrency, fintech, and consulting sectors. His focus areas include compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, consumer regulations, and model risk management. Mohammad has played a pivotal role in various projects, spanning audits, regulatory exams, product development, risk assessment, and policy formulation. His contributions have supported clients across different financial institutions, managing assets ranging from $3 billion to $145 billion. With extensive experience in the Middle East, particularly in Palestine and the UAE, Mohammad brings a unique perspective that incorporates regional customs into financial institutions’ review processes. Apart from his professional endeavors, he is actively involved in community service and leadership roles, co-founding the Arab Americans of Cleveland – Young Professional Network and holding positions such as Treasurer for the Arab American Bar Association of Ohio and Board Member for the CAIR-Ohio Cleveland Chapter.

Joseph Gedeon

Joseph Gedeon is a national security reporter at POLITICO in Washington and author of the Morning Cybersecurity newsletter. Before joining POLITICO, Joseph was a reporter at WNYC/Gothamist, covering local news and criminal justice in New York City/New Jersey. Previously, he was a reporter/editor for the Associated Press, covering politics, disinformation, race & ethnicity, and general assignment in standard and enterprise formats. His career has taken him across the US and the world, writing features and investigations from Dubai, Memphis, Montreal, New York City, Ottawa, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and the United Nations. Joseph is a former board member of The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA), and a graduate of Columbia Journalism School (M.A. Politics ’21) as a recipient of the Maggie and Gordon Gray Fellowship for International Reporting. ​He speaks English, Arabic, and French and grew up in Los Angeles and Montreal.

Amanda Ghannam

Amanda M. Ghannam is a trial attorney representing workers in employment disputes, survivors of sexual abuse, and victims of government misconduct. Amanda specializes in advocacy for clients experiencing discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. She has secured numerous settlements for wrongfully terminated clients and has a record of success defending employees accused of breaching non-competition agreements. Amanda also has years of experience representing survivors of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. Amanda approaches her cases with expertise, compassion, and fierce advocacy to help her clients obtain compensation, accountability, and closure. Amanda received the Detroit Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award in 2022 and was named a SuperLawyer Rising Star in 2023. Amanda earned her Juris Doctor specializing in Labor, Work, and Income from Northeastern University School of Law in 2018. In 2023, Amanda became a founding partner of Schulz Ghannam PLLC.

Wafa Ghnaim

Wafa Ghnaim is a Palestinian researcher, author, and educator who began learning embroidery from her mother, award-winning artist Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim when she was two. After publishing “Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora” (2018), Wafa established The Tatreez Institute, a global arts education initiative teaching Palestinian and Syrian embroidery to the diaspora. She is the Curator for the Museum of the Palestinian People in Washington, D.C., and a Senior Research Fellow for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Antonio Ratti Textile Center. Her project is focused on updating The Met’s Palestinian dress collection records with the latest geographic and cultural identifiers, leveraging material analysis and scientific research to authenticate oral history records of Palestinian elders. Most recently, she released her second book, “THOBNA: Reclaiming Palestinian Dresses in the Diaspora” (2023), which celebrates Palestinian embroidery as a form of resistance over the past century.

Christina Haddad

Christina Haddad is a Palestinian American born in the lower Galilee town of Nazareth and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. Christina earned her bachelor’s degree in global studies at the University of Tennessee with a focus on aid and development. She earned her Master of Science in Environmental Planning at UT and a Graduate Certification from the University of North Dakota in Geospatial Information Science. Christina works at the Electric Power Research Institute, where her passion has been to benefit society through objective thought leadership to address challenges and drive innovation in the energy sector. She has dedicated nearly 16 years to advancing research on ensuring clean, safe, reliable, resilient, and equitable energy access across the globe. She hopes sharing her experience will inspire women to pursue careers in science and engineering. Christina also enjoys learning the beautiful art of Tatreez and spending time with her two children.

Christina Hawatmeh

Christina Hawatmeh, the founder and CEO of Scopio – Scope it Out, heads a venture-backed AI-driven digital marketplace revolutionizing the creative industry. Scorpio empowers visual artists globally, enabling them to showcase and sell their work to corporations like Adobe, Disney, Microsoft, Pixar, and Canva. Christina is dedicated to advancing innovation and addressing bias in AI and visuals online, earning recognition such as Top 10 self-made women in 2023 (MSN) and a Forbes30u30 recipient. She holds an M.A. from Columbia University and has participated in prestigious programs like the Columbia Startup Lab and 500 Startups. Christina’s influence extends to international platforms, including speaking engagements at conferences worldwide and authoring acclaimed books like “The Year Time Stopped: The Global Pandemic in Photos.” She continues to make significant contributions to the tech and entrepreneurial landscape.

Mona Hussein-Yasin

Mona Yasin was born in Jerusalem raised in the West Bank, and currently resides in New York City. She is currently an Advisory Senior Manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Financial Services practice, where she has spent almost a decade. A computer scientist by training, she specializes in exploring the technical and commercial feasibility of new technology ventures in the data science ecosystem and overseeing their implementation. She manages projects of $100M+ for banks and capital market firms from North America to Asia. She has consistently performed at the very top of her class. Mona is also the co-founder of PwC’s Innovation Hub, an Artificial Intelligence research-based group enabling employees to implement AI technologies for their clients’ technology and business needs. Mona is deeply involved in fundraising and mentorship for Palestinian communities in New York and Ramallah. She also leads Women in Technology groups in her professional space and drives dynamic learning strategies for Girls Who Code in underserved communities. Hussein-Yasin has served as a volunteer for Engineers without Borders and as a volunteer for Medical Brigades, including receiving her EMT license. Mona graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a dual degree in Computer Science and Economics.

Amal Issa

Amal Issa, originally from Jordan, embarked on her American journey at 19, driven by a thirst for knowledge. Starting with mastering English, she pursued higher education, earning a teaching degree from Eastern Michigan University. Passionate about education, she teaches English, Arabic, and ESL. Inspired by her highly respected father-in-law, Mr. Mohamad Issa, a revered figure in education, she obtained certification as a k-12 principal. Eager to understand and serve her Detroit community better, she pursued a master’s in social work from the University of Michigan. Her dedication to learning and service reflects her deep commitment to empowering her community and fostering educational equity.

Dina Jazrawi

Originally born in the United Arab Emirates, Dina Jazrawi grew up in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of thirteen, she began working in a pharmacy, and it was not long before Dina found out that she wanted to be a pharmacist. Jazrawi attended Rutgers University’s School of Pharmacy, graduating Cum Laude with a doctorate in 2008. Upon graduation, Dina was a staff pharmacist and quickly promoted to pharmacy manager. At thirty, Jazrawi was again promoted to Pharmacy District Manager, overseeing 30 pharmacies and 60 pharmacists. Over the years, Dina developed a passion for public service and was appointed Executive Secretary for the New York State Board of Pharmacy in December 2019. As Executive Secretary, she assists the New York State Education Department and Board of Regents with professional practice issues impacting the pharmacy profession, including but not limited to regulatory implementation, licensure, and discipline.

Khulud Khudur

Dr. Khulud Elnur Khudur is a pioneering figure in public health, embodying innovation and a solid commitment to equity. With over a decade of diverse experience across various public health sectors, she demonstrates resilience and dedication, especially as a Sudanese Muslim first-generation immigrant. As the CEO and founder of Dr. Khulud Khudur, LLC, she leads groundbreaking public health solutions aligned with Essential Public Health Services, driving impactful change in communities. Dr. Khudur’s firm is a trusted partner for communities, organizations, and governmental agencies, and it is recognized for bolstering population health outcomes. Her role as a board-certified public health epidemiologist with the CDC Foundation showcases her unparalleled expertise, notably in orchestrating epidemiological strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic for over 300 facilities. Her research contributions, published in esteemed journals like the Harvard Public Health Review and World Health Organization, demonstrate her commitment to advancing knowledge in public health and COVID-19. In addition to her professional engagements, Dr. Khudur is deeply invested in academia and mentorship, serving as faculty at institutions like Harvard University and Penn State University. Her forthcoming Doctorate in Public Health and prestigious accolades, including a Harvard University Fellowship, underscore her scholarly dedication. Dr. Khudur’s commitment to excellence in public health leadership makes her a shining example poised to make enduring contributions to the field.

Amera-Rime Lulu

Amera-Rime Lulu is a Palestinian New Yorker passionate about storytelling and demystifying stereotypes of minority groups through creativity and a proud advocate for Diversity, inclusion, and belonging. She is a Senior Art Director in the Advertising Industry and an Adjunct Professor at CUNY New York City College of Technology. She lives in New York City. Some of my past clients include Degree, Pure Leaf, Colgate, Verizon, Amazon, Ikea, and Walmart. The Drum recently named her among the top 50 under 30 emerging creative females in the US. Advertising Week’s ”Future is Female” award semi-finalist and Maiper to watch for 2019, among other awards she has received in the advertising industry.

Micheline Maalouf

Micheline Maalouf is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Writer, Content Creator, Educator, and Advocate. Her life’s mission is to educate and end mental health stigma. Maalouf founded her practice, Serein Counseling, and social platforms with a community of 1.4 million. Micheline’s platforms have led to resources for millions and allowed her to have essential conversations with people worldwide. ​As a Syrian/Lebanese immigrant to Florida at age 8, she knew immigration would change everything, but she did not know the challenges it would cause for her. ​The feelings of displacement, loneliness, anxiety, and loss of identity never left Micheline, so she searched for her “why,” which led to an interest, passion, and career in mental health therapy and education. ​Micheline is a passionate advocate for Arab-American mental health. Micheline is currently in the process of writing a book for the Arab-American community. She knows what it is like to feel like something is deeply wrong and not know where to turn. Micheline is here to help build awareness, hoping no one will feel alone. She loves the world, which has driven her interest in cultures and languages. She speaks 4.25 languages and is working on making it 5.

Hannah Moushabeck

Hannah Moushabeck is a second-generation Palestinian American author, editor, and book marketer raised in a family of publishers and booksellers in Western Massachusetts and England. Born in Brooklyn into Interlink Publishing, a family-run independent publishing house, she learned the power of literature at a young age. She is the author of Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine (Chronicle Books, March 2023). She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, on the homelands of the Pocumtuc and Nipmuc Nations.

Anthony Mubarak

Anthony Mubarak is a Partner with Ernst and Young’s Strategy and Transactions practice, specializing in global supply chains, M&A, and operations strategy. Born of Palestinian and Lebanese immigrants, Anthony is immensely proud of his heritage. He is the founder and executive sponsor of EY’s Middle East and North Africa Community – an organization focused on promoting our heritage and developing the next generation of Arab American business leaders. A native of Knoxville, TN, Anthony graduated from the University of Tennessee (MBA, BS in Business Administration) while serving as a campus and community leader – including coaching youth sports, leading camps for special needs children, and serving as president of his fraternity. He is an avid promoter of mentorship – including mentoring several college students and young professionals of MENA descent. He is the proud father of two girls (McCall and Ramsey) and resides in Nashville, TN, with his wife, Kendra.

Heidi Naguib

As an activist and visual storyteller, Heidi Naguib wields her camera to illuminate the rich tapestry of human experience through the lens of social justice. Each captured moment serves as a reflection of the diverse narratives interwoven within humanity’s collective journey. Naguib’s lens serves as a conduit for empowerment, offering viewers a window into the often silenced voices and stories that shape the world —a reminder of shared humanity and responsibility. Each photograph is more than just an image; it is a portal to possibility, a catalyst for revolution. Heidi’s work is an invitation to reimagine the world, to dare to dream beyond the confines of the status quo. Through Naguib’s body of work, what emerges is not simply art but a manifesto of hope—a testament to the transformative power of human connection and the boundless potential within the world’s shared gaze.

Neshwa Rajeh

As a first-generation Yemeni American, Neshwa Rajeh embraces a journey of excellence spanning healthcare, psychology, research, and cultural advocacy. Beyond her profession, Rajeh is a daughter, sister, wife, researcher, and entrepreneur, driven by a humble dedication to mental health and cultural empowerment within her community. In research and advocacy, Neshwa addresses mental health and cultural awareness through impactful publications and collaborative projects at Stanford University’s Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab, bridging research and community engagement. Rajeh’s experience in psychology research and healthcare administration reflects a commitment to improving outcomes and promoting wellness among diverse populations. Beyond academia, Neshwa co-owns AteaCo Coffee and Tea, blending entrepreneurship with cultural celebration. As Co-Chair of the Culture Committee for her organization’s MENA Group, she champions initiatives to celebrate and empower Arab heritages. Recognized for innovative contributions to medical education, Rajeh’s commitment to cultural empowerment and mental health advocacy positions Neshwa as a distinguished leader, inspiring change within the Arab American community and beyond.

Mico Saad

Mico Saad is the first Egyptian TV host in Hollywood. He is also a Golden Globes Judge Member. His shows air on major TV stations in the Middle East, such as Dubai TV, CBC TV, It’s Showtime, Alkahera wal Nas, Alghad TV, and Ten TV. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he studied social science. Saad then moved to London at a young age, where he hosted a TV show for several years, interviewing celebrities, experts, and business owners, and reporting from locations around the UK and Europe to audiences worldwide. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in Hollywood for his show, including Nicholas Cage, Zack Efron, Eddie Redmayne, Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Letitia Wright, Charlie Cox, Amir Khan, Mario Kassar, Josh O’Connor, Colman Domingo, Phoebe Dynevor, Janelle Monáe and Omar Khairat. Saad became the first Egyptian journalist to cover the BAFTA Awards and Academy Awards. In 2018, he moved to Hollywood to host his newest show, which focuses on documenting and celebrating the success of Arabs in Hollywood.

Sara Maaiki

Sara Amalia Maaiki has ten years of experience in government and US politics. She is a first-generation Lebanese American. Sara serves as the Office & Executive Administrator at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about the role of the Senate. Sara had a lengthy career working on Capitol Hill. She most recently worked for Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). Sara set up one of the busiest and most high-profile new Member offices as she oversaw the administrative procedures for one of the first-ever Muslim Congresswomen. Sara responded to over 1,700 invitations annually and worked with nongovernmental organizations to host the first-ever widely attended Iftar celebration in the Capitol. Sara started working in Congress as Executive Assistant to former Democratic Caucus Chairman, Congressman John Larson (D-CT), and Scheduler to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Sara is a founder of the Congressional Middle Eastern North African Staff Association. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Wheaton College, MA. She lives in Boston and volunteers with numerous bulldog rescues.

Sarah Shendy

Sarah Shendy is a police sergeant with 16 years of law enforcement experience. She made history by being the first female Arab American Muslim police sergeant in Ohio. Shendy was a Law Enforcement Training Officer with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for four years. In 2012, Shendy designed a training class to educate law enforcement on effective ways to interact with the Middle Eastern population. In 2014, Shendy was one of sixteen members selected by A.G. Mike DeWine to serve on a panel evaluating Ohio law enforcement officers’ training, certification, and advancement. In September of 2019, Shendy was named a Hometown Hero. A trailblazer, In June of 2020, Shendy was appointed by Governor DeWine to be the inaugural Director of the Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment. Shendy has been featured in Kent State University Magazine & In December of 2021, Shendy was named Top Cop by Summit County Prosecutor’s Office. Shendy was published in Police1’s 22 on 2022: A Police Leadership Playbook. In July 2022, Shendy received the International Association of Chiefs of Police 40 Under 40 Award.

Mohamed F. Sweify

Dr. Mohamed F. Sweify is a dual-qualified attorney at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. Dr. Sweify holds a Doctorate of Law degree in international arbitration and two LL.M. degrees in International Business Law and in International Commercial and Investment Arbitration from the United States. He also holds a Bachelor of Law in civil and common law studies from Egypt. Dr. Sweify is an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, teaching Islamic law and arbitration. Dr. Sweify holds leadership positions in international arbitration, including the International Dispute Resolution Committee Chair at the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA). In 2024, Dr. Sweify is the Chair of the Egypt Chapter of the International Section at NYSBA. In 2023, Dr. Sweify was appointed a member of CPR’s Young Steering Committee (Y-ADR). In 2022, he was appointed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as a delegate for the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR. Dr. Sweify was awarded the Africa’s 30 Most Promising Arbitration Practitioners Award that same year. In addition, Dr. Sweify is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and the youngest arbitrator listed on the National Roster of Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association (AAA/ICDR). In 2021, Dr. Sweify was awarded the Middle East Policy Center (MEPC) 40 Under 40 Award.

Dr. Mohammed Tafesh

Dr. Mohammed Tafesh, a dynamic and dedicated Palestinian dentist, proudly serves the greater Boston area. After graduating with honors from the Jordan University of Science and Technology with a B.D.S degree, he earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine distinction from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Born in Salt Lake City, Dr. Tafesh’s early life included five relocations across four states, three countries, and three continents, exposing him to 4 languages and fostering a rich multicultural background. Inspired by his transformative journey following orthodontic treatment after experiencing bullying due to crooked teeth, he co-founded M&M Dental and owns a multi-disciplinary clinic in Massachusetts. Driven by a passion for extending life-changing dental care, he endeavors to increase accessibility and serve more needy patients.

Omar Tarabishi

Omar Tarabishi is an Egyptian-American who has spent the last 4+ years working with Qatar Foundation International as their Program Officer for Arabic Language. His career spans working with Arabic language education, helping students learn Arabic and Persian at the K-16 level, and assisting teachers to improve by incorporating culture and best practices in the classroom. He has founded and currently serves as the President of Leftover Love Inc., a Baltimore-based non-profit committed to helping rescue leftover food at the close of business from cafes and restaurants for those in need. He holds a BA in Arabic Studies and an MA in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland College Park. At UMD, he served as a Resident Assistant and helped serve the College Park Scholars community from 2009-2012.

Alexandra Tarzikhan

Alexandra Tarzikhan is the Legal Advisor for Southwest Asia and North Africa with the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights. Alex has worked in human rights advocacy, humanitarian operations, and global health, focusing on forced displacement, conflict-affected settings, and climate change. Alex was previously the Schuette Clinical Fellow in Health and Human Rights at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, where she supported health and human rights projects in Somalia, Lebanon, Ghana, the Dominican Republic, Bangladesh, and Gaza. Alex grew up in Aleppo, Syria, and has worked in Jordan, Lebanon, and Greece refugee camps. This work led her to create her Instagram page @meetarefugee, where she shares refugee stories and legal updates. She holds a dual J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, an M.P.H. degree from Tufts University School of Medicine, and a B.S. from Northeastern University.

Heba Tellawi

Heba Tellawi is the daughter of Palestinian refugees whose stories inspired her to pursue a career in public service. She serves as Regulatory Counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security component. In Fall 2021, Heba was appointed to the White House Executive Office of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, working exclusively on immigration policy. Tellawi majored in Global Development Studies at the University of Virginia and received a grant to travel to Amman, Jordan, to research United Nations Relief & Works Agency educational programs and resources for Palestinian refugees. Before law school, she interned at the Brookings Institute Center for Middle East Policy. Tellawi attended American University Washington College of Law, where she completed internships at the American Civil Liberties Union and Department of Justice and wrote academically on the importance of the right of return for Palestinians.

Lauren Yaldoo

Lauren Yaldoo is a leader and professional in mental health and technology. Her roots in an Iraqi immigrant family reflect a steadfast dedication to cultivating opportunities and breaking barriers, a guiding principle that underpins much of her work. Lauren has successfully created solutions to problems previously regarded as impossible to overcome, including authoring North America’s first evidence-based, experiential mental health curriculum implemented in a school setting. Her work has saved lives and provided crucial mental health resources, cultivating experiences that establish hope and healing, especially for communities, families, and youth. Central to her mission of building opportunities for growth and connection, she finds inspiration in celebrating Arab heritage, bridging gaps in mental health access, and removing stigma. Lauren considers fostering a connection the cornerstone of her personal and professional life, weaving together the threads of connection to create a stronger, healthier, and more unified community.

Sara Yahia

Sara Yahia is a Human Resources Expert and published Author. She speaks four languages fluently. She holds a BA and MS in Business Management with Summa Cum Laude Honors. Her area of expertise is HR strategies and operations, emphasizing D.E.I., talent management, and employee engagement. She is also known to be an introvert with high emotional intelligence. She started her career as an HR Advisor in Spain. Later, she became an HR Director in NYC. Afterward, she was appointed Senior HR Operations Director in Qatar. Sara Yahia wrote several books exploring and addressing societal issues and misconceptions: Quietly Sparks: Inner Power in a Loud Realm (Official Publication, 01/08/2024); Unheard Voices: Breaking the Silence on Abuse and Harassment (Official Publication, 01/22/2024); Timeless Heartbeat: A Yearlong Melody of Feelings (Official Publication, May 2, 2024); Quiet Diversity: A Guide to Cultivating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces (Official Publication, 02/19/2024).

Dr. Maro Youssef

Dr. Maro Youssef is an Arab-American feminist, immigrant, academic, and public sociologist focusing on women’s empowerment in the Middle East. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research is on the MENA region, US foreign policy, gender, and broad feminist coalitions. She has briefed her research at the United Nations, the US Department of State, and the Canadian Foreign Ministry. She consulted for the World Bank, the US Department of State, and the Solidarity Center. Previously, she worked at the State Department for eight years on various thematic topics and countries in the Middle East. She was born in Egypt, raised in California, and lived in Turkey and Tunisia.

Compiled by Arab America

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