Keynote at National Council on Public History’s Annual Meeting

A big thanks to the National Council on Public History for inviting me to deliver the keynote address at the organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis last weekend. It was great connecting with colleagues from across the nation to explore the many ways public history enriches our society. And, a big thanks to those who woke early to attend my talk.

I would also like to give a big shout out to the conference attendees who stroked my ego ( ??? ) by providing great feedback via Twitter. Seriously, though, this was my first major keynote and I appreciate the encouragement!

Screenshot of Twitter Feedback

Up next, I’m looking forward to presenting the work of the Arab American National Museum at the American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) annual conference in St. Louis. Our session, Interpreting Oppression: An Uncomfortable Opportunity, is on Monday, May at 8 from 1:30 to 2:45pm. If you’re in STL, then please join us!

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What the Elimination of the NEA and NEH Means to Us

On March 16, President Donald J. Trump put forth his budget proposal and it calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), among other governmental agencies. These vital government programs have been pillars of cultural and intellectual production throughout our nation. Thousands of museums, libraries, and cultural institutions will be significantly impacted if these programs are eliminated.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act. This important piece of legislation established both the NEA and the NEH. Since their inception, these Endowments have played an essential role in helping cultural institutions make the arts and the humanities more accessible to all Americans. This includes giving voice and visibility to marginalized and underrepresented communities throughout our nation. The Arab American National Museum (AANM), our nation’s singular museum dedicated to the Arab American experience, has been one of the thousands of museums, libraries, and cultural institutions to benefit from this support.

Since its founding in May 2005, the AANM has been able to shine light on Arab Americans and their presence in our nation through multiple NEA and NEH grants. For example, support from the NEA has enabled the museum to present its biennial DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts. DIWAN is a national convening that has provided hundreds of artists and scholars a safe, welcoming environment in which to connect, exchange ideas, and document emerging trends in the creation of art. What’s more, DIWAN has played a pivotal role in the Museum’s effort to build community through the performing and visual arts. In addition to shedding light on the creative output of Arab Americans, DIWAN has fostered relationships that have led to new research, collaborations, exhibitions, and public programs.

The NEA has also been a supporter of the museum’s award-winning SURA Arts Academy. SURA helps middle school and high school students learn to interact with an increasingly diverse world through professional photography instruction. More importantly, it affords youth from low-income and immigrant communities the opportunity to engage with high-quality mentorship in an enriching environment outside the classroom, which is vital given the cuts to arts programs in our schools. In fact, this award-winning program has been so successful that it received a prestigious Coming Up Taller Award in 2008 for best after-school program from the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities.

Most recently, the AANM was awarded a planning grant from the NEH. This grant supports research to update the museum’s permanent exhibits. Specifically, this project is examining recent patterns of migration to the U.S. from the Arab world for the purpose of current and inclusive representation in the museum’s public programs, collections, and permanent exhibits. Museum staff are partnering with leading scholars to conduct community-based research with a representative selection of recent immigrant and refugee communities from across the country. Collectively, we will produce a compelling and inclusive portrait of Arab immigration to the U.S. from the 9/11 era until today.

These are but a few ways the NEA and NEH have impacted the Arab American National Museum’s programs, research, and exhibitions. Through this support, we have been fortunate to give voice to Arab Americans while placing our community’s stories in context with the larger American historical narrative. In short, the NEA and NEH have played a critical role in helping our institution provide accurate and reliable information on Arab Americans while working to build greater connectivity among all Americans.
Elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would have a profound impact on not just Arab Americans, but thousands of communities big and small, urban and rural, throughout our nation. We urge Congress to take bold and immediate action to preserve both of these American institutions. We are a more vibrant and democratic society with their support.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

Photos from our recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.

View of Victoria Street
Victoria Street
View from South Bridge
View from South Bridge
Image of The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile
Image of National Monument of Scotland
National Monument of Scotland
View of downtown Edinburgh from Calton Hill
View of downtown Edinburgh from Calton Hill
View of The Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill
The Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill
Image of a taxi in Edinburgh
Classy Taxi
Image of Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket
Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket
Image of the Holrood Palace from Holyrood Park
Holyrood Palace from Holyrood Park
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Images of Holyrood Palace and Abbey

Here are a few photographs from my recent visit to the Holyrood Palace and Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Picture of Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
iPic of Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
Picture of Holyrood Abbey
iPic of Holyrood Abbey – Edinburgh, Scotland
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We Believe in America

A Joint Statement By The Arab American National Museum And Shangri La: A Museum Of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

We are American institutions of history, art, culture and conscience. Our collective missions speak broadly of the beautiful heritage and experiences of myriad and diverse peoples at home and abroad.

Our work aims to deepen our understanding of one another and our common humanity.

We believe that policies targeting refugees, immigrants, women, Native peoples, people of color, Arabs and Muslims do not reflect the moral courage and generosity of America – or its greatness. The true strength of our character is defined by our capacity for love and inclusivity, empathy and kinship.

We believe in America.

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2016-17 American Express NGen Fellowship

I’m very honored to have been selected to join such a talented and accomplished cohort of twelve nonprofit professionals taking part in the 2016-17 American Express NGen Fellows Program with the Independent Sector. Involvement within the fellowship program provides space for self-reflection, intellectual growth, and ongoing professional development. The program runs from November 2016 – October 2017, which began last year during the IS annual conference in Washington, D.C. I’m really looking forward to learning, sharing, and growing with this talented group of leaders.

The NGen Fellows, 12 outstanding charitable sector leaders aged 40 or under, are selected each year to participate in a range of activities that deepen their individual capabilities, expand their collective knowledge, and grow their professional networks. This selective fellowship program continues to build the next generation of charitable leaders as part of IS’ NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now initiative.

To honor eight years of the NGen Fellows Program, Independent Sector will officially become a partner of the American Express Leadership Academy, an industry-defining program that has developed more than 2,500 global, nonprofit, and social purpose leaders. Current NGen Fellows and alumni will now be able to take full advantage of the Academy’s growing alumni network and development events.

Photo of the 2016-17 American Express NGen Fellows
2016-17 American Express NGen Fellows
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Paris, France (December 2016)

Some iPhone images I took during my recent visit to Paris.

Image of the view of the Seine
View of the Seine
Image of the Right Bank along the Seine
The Right Bank along the Seine
Image of Musée du Louvre
Musée du Louvre
Image of comics by Zeina Abirached along the streetscape!
Comics by Zeina Abirached along the streetscape!
Image of installation by Flemish artist Hans Op de Beeck at 104 CENTQUATRE.
Installation by Flemish artist Hans Op de Beeck at 104 CENTQUATRE.
Image of Puglee visiting the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
Puglee visit the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
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