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Debbie D.
Democrat MI 12

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  • In Recognition of the Career and Contributions of Ismael Ahmed

    by Representative Debbie Dingell

    Posted on 2015-12-03

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    DINGELL of michigan in the house of representatives Thursday, December 3, 2015 Mrs. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Ismael Ahmed for his extraordinary career in service to our community. Ish, as he is known by friends, family and colleagues, has enriched the lives of so many in our region through his tireless, collaborative efforts for understanding and civil rights.

    Born in 1947 in New York, Ish and his family moved to the Detroit area when he was six. After graduating from Dearborn's Fordson High School, he set off to explore the world, working as a deck hand on freighters. Eventually Ish returned to Dearborn, where he gained employment at the Ford Rouge plant and worked his way through college, first at Henry Ford Community College, then graduating from University of Michigan Dearborn. After his graduation, Ish became involved in his community, organizing workers and seeking justice in his community.

    In 1971, along with a dedicated group of volunteers and activists, Ish co-founded ACCESS the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services in a storefront in Dearborn's south end, to help assist the Arab immigrant population as they adapted to life in the U.S. In 1983, he was appointed as Executive Director of ACCESS and worked diligently on its programming and growth. Today, ACCESS is the largest Arab American human services nonprofit in the country, serving nearly 900,000 people through more than 100 programs aimed at supporting economic, health, social, and educational needs. For this reason among others, Ish is recognized as a national Arab American and civil rights leader committed to ending hatred and bigotry and seeking justice for all Americans.

    In 2007, Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Ish as the director of the Michigan Department of Human Services, where he successfully led the state's second largest department for three years. As Department of Human Services' director, he served on the Michigan State Housing Development Authority board and the Early Childhood Investment Corporation executive committee. In 2011, Ish returned to the University of Michigan Dearborn and has served as the Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Associate Provost for Metropolitan Impact. In this role, Ish has built bridges and made major positive impacts in our region.

    Ish has also generously given his time and support to a wide array of Southeast Michigan [[Page E1707]] organizations further establishing him as a critical leader in a wide array of community, political, non-profit and cultural institutions such as: the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, United Way, Reading Works, the Arab American National Museum, Eastern Michigan University's Board of Regents, Arab American Institute, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, University of Michigan Citizens Advisory Board, Fair Food Network, and the New Detroit Coalition.

    Most remarkably, Ish's family has graciously shared his talents and time with our community. He is a loving husband to his wife Margaret, father to his five children, and grandfather to two. I know in his retirement he is looking forward to spending more time with them.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me today in honoring Ismael Ahmed for his lifetime of service and lasting impact on our region and country. We thank him for his leadership, and wish him many years of happiness and success.


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