4th Heritage Gala hosts hundreds of attendees, inspiring guests

More than 200 people turned out for the Arab American Civic Council 4th annual Arab American Heritage Gala this past Saturday. The event helped raise funds in support of AACC. Thank you to all those who were able to support us Saturday night and to others who were not, but still generously gave with their support and donations.    

Themed “Building and Transforming Collective Power” this year’s gala featured Dr. Maytha Alhassen, a historian, journalist, and social justice artist. In addition, Rima Nashashibi was awarded the Joseph R. Haiek Lifetime Achievement award for her longtime leadership and dedication to the civic empowerment of the Arab American community in Southern California.  

Two inspiring young women were presented with the Emerging Leader Award: Celine Qussiny for her anti-surveillance organizing, andDiana Alsindy for her work in promoting STEM to Arab youth all around the world.

Various elected officials joined us at the 4th annual gala including U.S. Congressman Lou Correa (CA-46), U.S. Congressman Gil Cisneros (CA-39), OC Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Fullerton Councilman Ahmad Zahra, Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones, Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Nguyen, and Artesia Councilman Ali Sajjad Taj.

The 2019 Gala Committee Chairwoman Lulu Hammad then spoke from the heart telling her story with community activism that led her to join the AACC team. She then encouraged the audience to give to the Arab American Civic Council, “not only what we can, but even if it hurts because there’s so much at stake.”

The Chairman of the AACC Board Raad Ghantous presented remarks summarizing AACC’s accomplishments and emphasizing its mission moving forward. Ghantous stated in his opening remarks:

“During the last 4 years we have achieved much thus far. From registering hundreds of citizens to vote, building and empowering young leaders, developing the Refugee Guidebook, being extremely effective and quick responding to issues on the ground facing refugees, and fighting the Muslim ban.  Today as we enter our 5th year and hopefully with all of your help and support we look forward to continuing to build and transform collective power even more lending voice to the voiceless and encouraging engagement of our community in all its ages and in all ways celebrating achievements such as the recent addition of undeniable diversity and the incoming class of elected officials both locally and nationally.”

Additionally, the chairman thanked the California State Senate, City of Anaheim, City of Fullerton, City of Garden Grove, Orange County Board of Supervisors, and the Anaheim Union High School District for proclaiming April as Arab American Heritage Month.

Besides these esteemed speakers, a number of city and state officials were present, as well as community leaders representing various organizations. Sponsors of the gala included Comerica Bank and Andy and Karen Thorburn.