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Profile: Ismael Ahmed

Director, Mich. Dept. of Human Svcs.

Ismael Ahmed was appointed by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services effective Sept. 10, 2007. A nationally-recognized expert in immigration and social reform, Mr. Ahmed leads the state’s second largest agency. Its nearly 10,000 employees administer a $4 billion-plus annual budget serving 1.5 million medical assistance cases and 1.2 million cash and food assistance cases.

Mr. Ahmed co-founded the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) 36 years ago, and was appointed executive director in 1983 where he was responsible for overall operations of the organization to include the executive administration of the Arab American National Museum (AANM). ACCESS is the largest Arab-American human services organization in the United States offering over 90 different programs with more than 900,000 client contacts annually.

During his tenure with the Michigan Department of Human Services, Mr. Ahmed was named the 2008 Arab American of the Year by ACCESS and the 2007 Diversity Business Leader award from the Arab American Chamber of Commerce.

For three consecutive years Mr. Ahmed has been a guest speaker at the Foreign Ministers Meeting of the League of Arab States speaking on U.S. and Arab relations. He has served on a number of governing boards for Southeast Michigan organizations, Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, University of Michigan Citizens Advisory Board, United Way, and New Detroit The Coalition. He chairs the Immigration Task Force and the Cultural Exchange Network for New Detroit.

Under his leadership, ACCESS received the Exemplary Community Service Program Award from the state of Michigan. In addition, ACCESS received the Points of Light award, given by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 for an exemplary non-profit service. He has been named Director of the Year in 1992 by the United Way of Michigan.

Mr. Ahmed is a contributing author to Arabs in America: Myths and Reality and has written for the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Publication, “Arab American Political Participation in the United States.”

He is a 1975 graduate of the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a minor in sociology. He resides in Dearborn, Michigan with his wife Margaret and has five children and a grandson.


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