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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City/Cité: An Exchange on Urban Democracy

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to represent the Arab American National Museum at the City/Cité convening in Paris. It was an inspiring program and I was honored to be part of an incredibly talented delegation of professionals representing the US. In addition to sharing how the AANM works to uplift communities through arts & culture, I had the opportunity to meet with like-minded institutions in Paris to explore the potential for collaboration. This included the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration and the Institut du Monde Arabe. I’m optimistic about the possibilities. Here’s more on the City/Cité program:

At a time where shockwaves of the Brexit and US elections extend to the other side of the Atlantic in a context of worldwide political crisis, City/Cité brings together researchers, policymakers, city architects, activists, artists, and journalists in a transatlantic dialogue on the past, present, and future of urban democracy.

After the 2015 launch of City/Cité in Chicago and before the next stage that will take place in Detroit in 2017, this Paris edition turns to the issue of “neighborhoods”. The two days of events at CentQuatre-Paris and Maison de la Poésie offer a space for exchange and reflection on ways to promote social inclusion and political participation in neighborhoods, and to identify best practices for social justice. Beyond the immediate objective of establishing an international network of artists, researchers, local figures, and activists, the project aims to create a Franco-American commission on urban development policy.

Advertisement for City/Cité in Paris
Advertisement for City/Cité in Paris

I need to express my heartfelt gratitude to the French Embassy in the US for organizing City/Cité. Not only was it an insightful program, but it also served to foster stronger relationships among the participants. I’m very much looking forward to the next installment of City/Cité, which will take place in Detroit in 2017.

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Interview with Monocle’s The Urbanist

One of the many great things about attending CityLab 2016 in Miami was the opportunity to speak with inspiring and talented leaders from across various professional fields. This included conversations with some great journalists, including the one I had with Megan Billings, Deputy Bureau Chief at Monocle. I’m a big fan of Monocle magazine and I enjoyed speaking with Ms. Billings about the work of the Arab American National Museum. The interview was published by Monocle’s The Urbanist podcast (episode 265).

screenshot of The Urbanist podcast, episode 265
The Urbanist podcast, episode 265
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Sharing Our Innovative Work at CityLab 2016

I’m immensely excited to be in Miami for CityLab 2016. Over the next few days, attendees will explore both challenges and innovative approaches to creating more sustainable and vibrant cities. I have the honor of serving on a breakout session on Monday, October 24 called Community Building with Arts and Culture. Moderated by Sammy Hoi, president of the Maryland Institute College of Art, the panel will also include Franklin Sirmans, director of the Perez Art Museum Miami; and Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy, founders and artistic directors of The Good Chance Theatre. I am humbled to be joined by such a distinguished list of presenters.

Here is the summary overview of our panel:

Two top museum directors working in diverse and, at times, divided cities, will explore the power of the arts to break down division and foster community, particularly across racial and ethnic lines. Franklin Sirmans of Miami’s Perez Art Museum and Devon Akmon of the Arab American National Museum will share strategies for how to use art as a lever for cross-cultural dialogue, They will be joined by Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy of the Good Chance Calais, a pro bono theater company which these two young British playwrights started in the infamous Calais Jungle refugee camp. Despite lacking plumbing, roofs over their heads, or much to eat, refugees from a host of nations came together under the Good Chance tenet and made art. In this session, inspiring anecdotes and clear cut strategic advice will be shared with a common goal of helping participants to reflect on how art connects us, highlighting our common humanity.

CityLab is presented by The Atlantic, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Aspen Institute. The event is officially described as:

Dedicated to highlighting innovation and effective practices in urban governance, CityLab gathers the world’s most creative mayors and city practitioners with artists, academics, funders, and other public and private sector leaders focused on improving cities and spreading urban strategies that work.

Follow the discussion online with the Twitter hashtag #CityLabMIA.

CityLab Brochure

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Panel Presentations in Washington, DC (Oct. 18/19, 2016)

2016 Smithsonian Affiliations Annual Conference
Opening Session: Saluting our Past, Shaping our Future
October 18, 2016 at the Rasmuson Theater, National Museum of the American Indian

  • Moderated by Harold A. Closter, Director, Smithsonian Affiliations
  • Devon Akmon, Director, Arab American National Museum
  • Sarah Holbrooke, Executive Director, The Pinhead Institute
  • Allyson Nakamoto, Director of Education, Japanese American National Museum
  • Jose Santamaria, Executive Director, Tellus Science Museum

Affiliate partnerships can be enriching and occasionally transforming. What have we learned from 20 years of experimentation and collaboration, and what do we envision for the future? Four Smithsonian colleagues offer their keynote insights into the power of partnership and the ways in which working together has benefitted their organization and community, while helping the Smithsonian fulfill its national outreach mission.


Middle East Institute and the Institute for Immigration Research (IIR) at George Mason University

The Art of Immigration: How Immigrant Artists Enrich America
October 19, 2016 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

  • Moderated by Monica Gomez-Isaac, Executive Director at the Institute for Immigration Research (IIR), George Mason University
  • Devon Akmon, Director, Arab American National Museum
  • Huda Asfour, Musician & Composer and Co-Founder of the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival
  • Anne-Marie McGranghan, Resettlement Officer, UNHCR
  • James Witte, Director, Center for Social Science Research (CSSR) and Research Director, Institute for Immigration Research (IIR), George Mason University

A discussion about the social, cultural, and economic impact of immigrant artists on U.S. society, the infrastructure available to support the integration of immigrant artists, and the personal transformations they undergo as they adapt to their new homeland.

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