Arab Americans Get Set for Busy Week @ DNC
Fifty-five Arab American delegates and committee members are currently attending this year’s DNC, representing 18 different states. The Arab American Institute will highlight the background and experiences of two Arab American delegates per day, starting with Devon Abdallah, a first-time delegate from Washington, and Ismael Ahmed, a long-time party veteran representing Michigan.
Devon Abdallah is an influential civil rights activist in Washington, and one of three Arab Americans representing the state at this year’s DNC. Abdallah will be on the Standing Committee, and embodies Arab American grassroots participation coming to the forefront of American politics. A lawyer by trade, Abdallah is a founding member of the Arab American Community Coalition, an organization working to stop hate crimes aimed at Arab Americans. She successfully funded her own trip to the DNC through a Piryx campaign that raised over $1500 from a number of donors. This will be her first trip to a national convention, and she considers it “an amazing experience to be around such a diverse group of people with progressive views, all here with the goal of getting Barack Obama reelected. The best part has been having such interesting conversations with people from all around the US, and seeing how much collaboration we can do across communities and cities.”
Ismael Ahmed is currently the Associate Provost for Integrated Learning and Community Partnerships at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Ahmed is a longtime Democratic activist who has been to every DNC since 1984 and served in multiple political roles within the Michigan Democratic Party over the years. He directed the Michigan Department of Human Services from 2007 to 2011, and previously served as executive director of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS).
During his 38 years with ACCESS (including 24 years as director), Ahmed advocated for low-income, new immigrant, and other marginalized communities across metro Detroit and beyond through a range of social justice, human services and arts activist programs focused on accessibility and equality. As the current co-chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, Ahmed is proud of his community's accomplishments: “While there is still much to do, we have come so far. Whether with civil rights here at home or international issues abroad, Democrats better represent the interests of my community, and our leadership in the party has helped make that happen.”