AAI and NNAAC coordinate leadership conference in Dearborn
By Adil James, TMO
Dearborn–October 1–The aftermath of 9/11 has been a trial for Arabs and for Muslims, but Arabs and Muslims have responded by stepping vigorously into the public arena and a reflection of that trend is this weekendâ€™s â€œYalla Changeâ€ leadership conference in Dearborn.
The event was co-sponsored by the Arab American Institute and the National Network for Arab American Communities and was attended by about 200 guests and speakers. The event was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn. Those in attendance appeared to be mostly professionals who had experience working as leaders in the Muslim and especially Arab communities, and it seemed as though the focus of the leadership conference was in building the capacity of the Arab community for involvement in the arena of public service.
Discussions that contributed to this capacity were a discussion by the â€œCenter for Arab American Philanthropy,â€ â€œMaximizing Earned-Income Endeavors,â€ â€œTapping Employee and Volunteer Motivation to Minimize Burnout,â€ â€œTelling Your Financial Story to Funders,â€ and â€œInnovative Practices for Nonprofits,â€ among others. Each of these sessions was a full multi-hour discussion designed to increase the effectiveness of Arab organizations–the majority of the seminars at the event focused on this area.
A few of the sessions focused on broader issues, namely the red herring issue of anti-Shariah legislation and a presentation by Wajahat Ali on the coterie of anti-Islam zealots such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who appeared recently on the national scene but who have garnered disproportionate influence in the wake of September 11th and have, amazingly, by the strength of only a few shrill voices, polarized the American climate in relation to Islam to attempt to deny Muslims even the peaceful enjoyment of good relations with their neighbors.