Meet the Arab America Ambassadors Who Are Making an Impact!
By: Haya Bacharouch, Arab America Ambassador/Blogger
The Arab America Ambassador Network represents an effort to connect Arab and non-Arab communities through collaborative efforts while amplifying Arab America’s effectiveness as a resource that offers accurate information on Arab Americans and the Arab World.
Through their writing and research, AAA ’s have reached thousands of readers and viewers by using the power of words and digital media to enrich our readers on Arab American culture, traditions, and the factors which may impact U.S. policies towards the Arab World. AAA’s lately have focused on Arab American Heritage Month, Mother’s Day, and the traditions Arab Muslims hold during Ramadan.
With pride and joy, we introduce you to our Arab America Ambassadors who volunteer to support Arab America’s mission. Their diverse nationalities, religions, and geographic locations contribute to the enrichment of Arab America:
Dr. Hayfa Alazzawi is from Baghdad, Iraq. She is a mother of two children. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Baghdad University. Alazzawi is a former Iraqi Parliament Member and has worked as an advisor for security and defense in the Iraqi parliament. Working as a parliament member provided her with good experience to work with various parties and to establish the constitution of Iraq. Alazzawi’s specific experience was to work on the committee of civil society and human rights and establish the first law of civil society in Iraq. Alazzawi and her team also developed a specific committee for the human rights to work on the victims of war.
Haya Bacharouch is a Syrian-American who grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States. She is currently attending Harvard Graduate School of Education for her Masters in Education Policy and Management. She attended the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and earned her degree in Education. Currently, she is a fifth-grade teacher based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She focuses on inquiry-based learning in her classroom and seeks to promote awareness of Arab American culture in a positive light to combat stereotypes. Haya decided to join Arab America to bring forth positive awareness of Arab American impact in the U.S.
While Myrna Daher was looking for Middle Eastern events and organizations to become involved with, Arab America stood out the most in her search. As a first generation Lebanese in America, Myrna Daher is very committed to becoming an ambassador to support the Arab American community. Supporting Arab America is a rewarding experience which enables her to connect with society on a large scale. Daher’s self-imposed responsibility is to provide readers a unique perspective from the Arab community itself, rather than other common news outlets. She values the diversity of the Arab America staff in terms of different ethnic and religious and professional backgrounds. She is an alumnus of Kent State University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication.
Leila Diab is a Palestinian American educator, writer, lecturer, and a poet. She has received several outstanding awards as a journalist/photographer. Diab’s poems, prominent interviews, CPS Union woman of the year award. Her work focused on the Middle East, multicultural issues, Native Americans, and nature have appeared in numerous local, national, and international publications. For over ten years, Diab served as a human rights activist on the NGO Palestine Human Rights committee in North America. Presently, Diab is a consultant and owner of Global Communications Network, a global media/information enterprise. Diab is Co-editor of a Different Path, an Arab American anthology, and co-founder of RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers, Inc.), one of the first anthologies on Arab American writers in the USA.
Muath Idriss is a recent Syrian immigrant and a talented vocalist and oud player, and Dj. He won 1st place in the Arab version of “The Voice” in 2001 after which he launched his 1st Album “Tarban” with Rotana in 2002. He also lived in the Arabian Gulf which provided him the opportunity to observe the Khaleeji beats and modes. Reading and Arabic calligraphy are his favorites hobbies. Idriss is embarking on a new project and that is to resurrect Arabian Musical Theater in the US. Currently, he resides in Northern Virginia.
Mike Enayah is a Palestinian who was born in Kuwait. In 1981, Enayah emigrated to the USA as a teenager. He graduated from Wayne State University with a masters degree in industrial design. Enayah worked in the architecture design, products design, and automotive design fields. In addition, Enayah is an artist; who loves to paint. Currently, he’s a contributing writer at Arab America. In his writing, Enayah reflects on the struggles of Arabs and Arab Americans.
Udochi Esomonu is a rising junior at George Washington University in Washington DC. She was born and raised in New Jersey and is the daughter of two Nigerian immigrants. She is majoring in Political Science and is planning to minor in Sociocultural Anthropology. Esomonu has been studying Arabic for two years and looks forward to continuing her language studies. This coming fall semester, Udochi will be studying abroad in Tunisia & Italy with SIT academic programs. She is currently an Intern and contributing writer at Arab America. She is very excited to work with Arab America throughout this summer.
Nizar Farsakh is a trainer focusing on leadership, advocacy, and negotiations. He worked for two years at the Project On Middle East Democracy in DC, building the advocacy capacity of Arab CSOs. Before that, he was the General Director of the PLO Delegation in Washington DC. Prior to his duties at the PLO delegation, he was advising senior Palestinian leaders, including the President, the Prime Minister, and various ministries. Farsakh is currently involved in several non-violence initiatives in Palestine/Israel and is assisting in the establishment of the Museum of the Palestinian People in Washington D.C.
Jordyn Imhoff is a multimedia communicator intern, currently studying integrative public relations with a minor in leadership at Central Michigan University. She has served as a diversity representative for her residence hall and coordinated programs/messaging to raise awareness about certain issues such as race, religion and damaging stereotypes. Imhoff also managed the social media accounts and a website for Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. She’s currently a member of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and an Arab America Ambassador blogger.
Randa Necola is a student at George Mason University. Necola was born and raised in Egypt and moved to the United States when she was sixteen years old. She graduated from JW Mitchell High School in Florida and finished her Associate’s degree at Northern Virginia Community college. Ms. Necola’s dream is to work with an Arab broadcast radio or television channel. Randa wants to finish her Ph.D. in communication before she turns 30 years old. One of her dreams is to travel the world and buy a souvenir from each country. Necola speaks Arabic, English, and French fluently.
Jesús Nieto is a Chicano (activist of Mexican ancestry) and he the proud father of a daughter and a son. He was born in San Antonio, Texas and eventually, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan where he completed his high school and college education. Nieto developed a life-long passion for social justice, particularly with American Indians, African Americans, Latino’s and Arab/Muslims. Since receiving his Ph.D. from a joint doctoral program at San Diego State University and the Claremont Graduate University, he has been teaching Multicultural Education courses for future teachers at San Diego State University. His awareness of the hatred and oppression directed at Arabs in general, and Palestinians, in particular, has motivated him to become an Arab America Ambassador. According to Nieto, “It’s important to talk the talk, but far more important to walk the walk. Every challenge represents an opportunity to put love into practice.”
Cait O’Connor is a rising senior at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York where she majors in English literature and has recently taken on an Arabic minor after spending four months studying abroad in Amman, Jordan. While abroad, she spent time traveling throughout Jordan and studying the Arabic language, Jordanian dialect, and the social and political climate of Jordan. She also had the opportunity to intern at the scientific research branch of the Shoman Foundation in downtown Amman. O’Connor was born and raised outside Washington, D.C. and is excited to be working in the city with Arab America this summer.
Blanche Shaheen is an accomplished Arab American woman and former network television host and reporter in both entertainment and news. Among the programs she worked on were; “View from the Bay,” “Video I” on PBS, “Tech Live,” “Check Please,” NPR radio, and numerous news and political programs for Link Media. In 2010, Shaheen switched to hosting her own cooking show, sharing heirloom Arab dishes and recipes preserved by her mother and grandmother. She has a program on YouTube titled “Feast in the Middle East”, and is also a part-time fitness instructor and model; she shares nutritional tips and provides healthy recipes. In addition to raising a family, she gives cooking demonstrations at Draeger’s Markets and the Fancy Food Show in Northern California.
Christine Shahin is the daughter of first-generation Lebanese immigrants. She attributes her nearly 30 years of environmental, community, and human rights advocacy to her father, an Orthodox Christian priest who encouraged her to serve those less fortunate. Shahin was a part of a community effort to protect her rural NY Adirondack hamlet from a regional waste incinerator and landfill. She has served on numerous local, state, and national boards on environmental, labor, human rights, creation care, and youth empowerment with the disenfranchised. Shahin was an Official Delegate to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg South Africa in 2002. Today, she runs an all natural salon and is the author of the book, Natural Hair Coloring: How to use Henna and Other Pure Herbal Pigments for Chemical Free Beauty christineshahin.com
Michael Springmann is an attorney and former diplomat who lives and works in Washington, DC. Springmann spent nine years as a diplomat: five in Germany, two in India, and nearly two in Saudi Arabia, with the US Department of State. Springmann has participated with a number of Arab and Muslim organizations and received a Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Now a writer and political commentator, Springmann is the author of Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World, and Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb.
Emiliya Strahilova is from Bulgaria where she graduated with a degree in Publishing and Media. She spent five years in Qatar where she worked in a diverse international environment. Strahilova visited several Arab countries of which she had the opportunity to explore Arab culture and people. She contributes to Arab America utilizing her experience in research and communications skills. Strahilova’s interest lies in the arts and with social issues.
Janice Jwaid Reed
Janice Jweid Reed grew up in the vibrant Syrian-Lebanese community of Paterson, New Jersey. Her grandparents emigrated from Aleppo, Syria, bringing the Middle Eastern traditions, foods, and the Arabic language that were an integral part of her upbringing. Reed’s family heritage has instilled in her an appreciation and knowledge of Arab culture, language, and particularly the renowned cuisine of Aleppo, Syria. Reed has authored two cookbooks: Sitto’s Kitchen and Sitto’s Kitchen II. The author’s educational background includes a degree in Interior Design, which she practiced in Chicago, New Jersey, and eventually, New York City, where she owned her own business.
Rabia Tami was born in Casablanca Morocco. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Tami works as a consultant and event coordinator. She speaks various languages including Arabic, French, English and has knowledge of Spanish. Tami attended Al Hassan University in Morocco, studying Arabic literature. Later, she studied at the Institute of Technology in Morocco. Subsequently, Tami worked in radio and television, doing voice-overs for advertisements. Most currently, Tami has studied at Harper College and the College of DuPage in the Chicago area. Tami decided to join Arab America to take part in the rich political, cultural, and historical discourse.
Annika Wolfe is from a small town in Ohio and is a student at American University in Washington, DC. She is a rising junior with senior standing, majoring in International Studies and minoring in Arabic. This coming fall semester, she will be studying abroad in Amman, Jordan with CET Academic Programs. After her graduation from the university, she hopes to spend time traveling and working with an international aid organization in the Middle East. She is passionate about women’s empowerment, international development, education, and Arab culture. Annika is currently a full-time intern and contributing writer for Arab America, and is very excited to be working with the team this summer.
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