By Neda Farooqi , MMNS
Eminent leaders gathered last Thursday to honor and award professionals in the Dearborn community at Byblos Banquet Center. This was the third annual banquet hosted by the Arab American Professional Network (AAPN).
The event began with a welcoming address from James P. Allen, Chairman of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. “Hospitality and service is part of our DNA,” said Allen.
The AAPN is a committee within the American Arab Chamber of Commerce that recruits new members and works on projects with the chamber. This committee also offers opportunities for social and professional advancement for the local community.
“We are helping others achieve their dreams and this is the key to individual and collective achievement,” said Allen. “The significance of the group is to think strategically and work together.
“We honor four men who exemplify the word ‘professional,’” said Allen.
The honorees included Edward J. Begale, Arab American Professional of the year in Education, the Late Dr. Farouck N. Obeid, Arab American Professional of the year in Medicine, Mohammed Sabbagh, Arab American Professional of the Year in Finance, and James C. Thomas, Arab American Professional of the Year in Law.
All recipients were recognized and awarded, except for the late Dr. Farouck Obeid, whose family was acknowledged.
Edward Begale is the vice chancellor for government relations at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He represents the university to the local city and elected officials in Dearborn and Lansing. Begale also officiates as an assistant with the president of The Henry Ford.
“My advice to the young crowd is that success is all about networking,” said Begale. “I encourage every college student to have a mentor.”
Dr. Obeid was a trauma surgeon and a community leader for Dearborn residents. In 2005, Obeid led Hurley’s Bariatric and Minimally-Invasive Surgery Center and since 2002 he had been a professor of surgery at Michigan State University. He was also a cancer patient and passed away on March 8, 2008. He was 58 years old.
Mohammed Sabbagh is the vice president in Retail financial Services with JP Morgan Chase. Sabbagh is the bank branch manager of the local office at Ford Road and Outer Drive.
“For all the lawyers, especially the young ones, I take this award,” said James C. Thomas.
Thomas was admitted to various district courts including to the U.S. District Court and to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1974. His concentration includes criminal defense in both federal and state courts all through Michigan and the United States.
“The Arab American Chamber of Commerce was build on a few business networks. Now it has grown and reached nationally and internationally,” said Thomas.
The keynote speaker was Joseph Diederich, chief operating officer at Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. “This laze-faire attitude is old. Mistakes can be rare in the healthcare field because of vigilance.” Oakwood has 40 clinics, 10,000 employees, 17,000 volunteers.
“We pump back $400 million dollars back into this community,” said Mary Zatine, member of Oakwood Healthcare.
Charter One Bank, Comcast, Ford Motor Company, and IKEA were amongst the many corporate sponsors for the evening. Local businesses, such as Famous Hamburger, were also supporting the AAPN.
“I really enjoyed the event. It brings a diverse group of individuals, ranging from politicians to business owners,” said Adnan Ahmed, student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and current Muslim Student Association member.