ACCESS CEO announces leadership transitions
Maha Freij promoted to Executive Director; Wisam Qasem Fakhoury promoted to Chief Financial Officer
Dearborn, Mich. (March 25, 2019) – ACCESS’ CEO Hassan Jaber announced today that Maha Freij, previously the Deputy Executive Director & Chief Financial Officer, has been appointed to serve as Executive Director of the 48-year-old organization. Wisam Qasem Fakhoury, previously the Finance Director, has been promoted to CFO. Jaber, who has been at the helm for the past 12 years and at the organization for 39, will remain Chief Executive Officer.
“For the past 39 years, it has been an honor to work with this talented and dedicated team of changemakers. Maha is an incredible leader whose innovation has been the driving force behind the development and growth of ACCESS’ national institutions and initiatives,” said Hassan Jaber, ACCESS CEO. “This was an effortless decision for me as Maha and Wisam have been doing this work for years and these changes reflect their leadership and scope of work. Maha’s vision for an empowered and engaged Arab American community and both her and Wisam’s commitment to maintaining a robust and sustainable institution will allow us to serve our constituents for years to come. I look forward to our continued growth with them in these new roles.”
Maha began her tenure at ACCESS in 1991 and was promoted to Deputy Executive Director and CFO in 2007. Maha has led all fundraising and capital campaigns for the organization for both brick and mortar projects and endowments, including the first-ever Arab American National Museum, tirelessly growing ACCESS from a grant-reliant organization to one with a sophisticated development strategy designed to advance the organization’s mission and vision. In 2005 Maha founded the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) as the only Arab American community foundation in the country supporting the philanthropic needs of Arab American donors.
Maha continues to drive new initiatives that engage Arab Americans in developing long-term solutions to society’s most pressing issues. She has invested in growing strong leaders across the organization and its national institutions, while increasing the organization’s capitalization, building financial reserves to ensure future sustainability for decades to come.
“I am honored and thrilled to have been appointed to this new role and look forward to continuing to work diligently with Hassan, Wisam and the rest of the remarkable leadership team to build on the momentum of ACCESS’ values, mission and vision,” said Maha Freij, ACCESS Executive Director. “With such a devoted and passionate team, I am confident that we will achieve our strategic priorities while continuing to take our work from the neighborhood to the nation.”
For the past 19 years, Wisam Qasem Fakhoury, has utilized her financial expertise and meticulous eye for detail to promote and support the growth and development of the agency to its current $27 million nonprofit operating budget. Leaving the private sector, Wisam began her tenure at ACCESS as a program accountant and was appointed Finance Director in 2009. In this role, Wisam led the organization’s overhaul of financial systems and institutionalized key policies and procedures. Overseeing all accounting functions, her responsibilities include tracking, budgeting and long-range financial planning; leading auditing processes; creating and communicating board and executive-level financial presentations; and making recommendations regarding financial strategies, processes and improvements.
“Leading ACCESS’ financial systems into its next chapter and continuing to build on Maha and Hassan’s legacy is an incredible honor,” said Wisam Qasem Fakhoury, ACCESS CFO.” Maha has set an amazing example in driving innovation and long-term sustainability. I look forward to growing this work even further.”
Both Maha and Wisam will assume their new roles effective immediately.
Grounded in a grassroots commitment to empowerment, ACCESS is the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the U.S., with a 48-year history of nonprofit of excellence. Guided by our vision of a just and equitable society for all, with the full participation of Arab Americans, we empower communities in Southeast Michigan to improve their economic, social and cultural well-being through an extensive network of health, education, employment and social services programming. Our mission extends nationally through our highly esteemed institutions—The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), the Arab American National Museum (AANM) and the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP)—which are focused on making an impact through advocacy, the arts and philanthropy.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia as the Special US Correspondent for the Arab News at www.ArabNews.com, the TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
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