Meet 5 Young Arab American Politicians Building Stronger Communities

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Published in
5 min readApr 29, 2024

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As Arab American Heritage Month comes to a close, RFS is thrilled to highlight 5 incredible alumni who are making an impactful difference in their communities. From tackling affordable housing and addressing gun reform, to securing worker’s rights and clearing the way for clean energy, these alums are changing the game nationwide.

Learn more about their work below!

Abraham Aiyash

History Making Moment: First Arab American Majority Leader in Michigan History

Community Building Flex: Introduced and passed legislation that allows for the expansion of large-scale renewable energy in Michigan.

First elected in 2020, Abraham Aiyash is a community organizer with over a decade of experience fighting for social, economic, and environmental justice. He is a lifelong resident of Michigan House District 4, a son of Yemeni immigrants, and comes from a UAW family. As State Representative, he has worked to make sure Hamtramck and Detroit have a strong voice in Lansing.

Halla Henderson

History Making Moment: First Eritrean American (and of Lebanese Heritage) elected to the St. Paul School Board

Community Building Flex: Worked with local teacher’s union to secure a bargaining agreement and raise for teachers.

Halla is an organizer, a youth worker, and a fierce advocate for an education system that meets all students’ needs. Through years of organizing with students and new voters and, now, working alongside students across Minnesota to advise stakeholders and government officials on youth issues, Halla has worked to build power with those most impacted by the decisions made.

To the Saint Paul School Board, she brings a perspective that successful governing lies in the relationships with students, educators, and community members. By centering and addressing the historic inequities in our school districts, she is a champion in the fight for fully funded schools, the hiring and recruiting of additional teachers of color, and a voice for those who have too often failed to see themselves reflected in government spaces.

Iman Jodeh

History Making Moment: Muslim and Palestinian Elected to the Colorado legislature & First Arab American Majority Whip in Colorado History

Community Building Flex: Primary Sponsor for the largest healthcare bill in Colorado history, ensuring culturally relevant access for new citizens and extended Colorado’s eviction period from 48 hours to 10 days.

Iman is the first Muslim and first Palestinian elected to the Colorado State Legislature. A lifelong resident of House District 41, she is proud to represent one of the most diverse districts in Colorado. The daughter of Palestinian immigrants and refugees, she is the product of their American Dream, and she is determined to give everyone their shot to realize their own American Dream.

She has made healthcare, housing, immigrant rights, and education her policy priorities. Her record stands with landmark legislation, passing the Colorado Option (the largest healthcare bill in Colorado history), the establishment of the Office of New Americans, and protecting people from eviction and rent increases — all in her first term. She hopes to continue championing legislation that protects all Coloradans, especially those that have been traditionally marginalized and underrepresented.

Ruwa Romman

History Making Moment: First Muslim and Palestinian Elected to the Georgia legislature

Community Building Flex: Created a homestead exemption for teachers and public service sector employees in an effort to lower housing costs.

Ruwa is a dedicated public servant and community leader currently serving as the Representative for Georgia State House District 97. With a background in organizing, policy analysis, and management, Ruwa is deeply committed to empowering communities and promoting civic engagement.

Throughout her career, Ruwa has demonstrated her passion for advocacy and community building. She has worked tirelessly as an organizer with the Asian American Advocacy Fund and played a pivotal role in co-founding the Georgia Volunteer Hub. In addition, Ruwa has made significant contributions to the Georgia Muslim Voter Project through her organizing efforts.

Ruwa’s educational background further enhances her ability to effect positive change. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Oglethorpe University and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University. Her expertise in policy analysis is evident in her work for a professional services management company, where she developed strategies to address complex policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

With her diverse skill set and unwavering dedication, Ruwa continues to make a lasting impact on her community. As the Representative for Georgia State House District 97, she remains focused on championing the needs and interests of her constituents while striving to build a stronger and more engaged community.

Sami Sheetz

History Making Moment: First Arab American elected to the Iowa state legislature

Community Building Flex: Introduced a mandatory background check bill for firearms sales and passed a resolution making February 22, 2024 Caitlin Clark Day in Iowa.

Sami was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His story is like so many others in America. The son of a Syrian immigrant teacher and a lawyer, Sami learned from a young age the value of a good education, workers’ rights, and helping one’s own community.

Sami graduated from George Washington High School, a public school right here in Cedar Rapids, where he pursued his love for swimming and became president of the study body. Inspired into community organizing and public service by President Barack Obama, Sami has been organizing and working to get Democrats elected across Iowa for over a decade.

After high school, Sami attended Georgetown University on a scholarship during which he lived abroad in Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, where he worked for the State Department.

Following graduation, he immediately returned to Cedar Rapids to work to rebuild the Democratic Party and elect progressives to office across this state. Sami is a union organizer and member of Teamsters Local 328, he attributes his background in organizing and growing up in a diverse, blue-collar community as the driving forces for his politics and advocacy.

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