Khalaf announces his retirement as ADC president

Khalaf announces his retirement as ADC president
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Khalaf announces his retirement as ADC president

Samer Khalaf, who helped strengthen the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, refocusing it on civil rights and away from internal conflicts and restoring to a position of prestigious leadership, announced Wednesday he will not seek re-appointment as President when his term  expires.

By Ray Hanania

Samer Khalaf, who helped strengthen the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, refocusing it on civil rights and away from internal conflicts and restoring to a position of prestigious leadership, announced Wednesday he will not seek re-appointment as President when his term  expires.

Khalaf was appointed ADC President on December 9, 2013 following a tumultuous period of uncertainty and conflict in the organization. ADC has since returned to become one of the strongest voices defending civil rights including for Arab Americans.

At the time of his appointment, Khalaf declared, “I am honored to be selected to lead an organization which has helped mold me into who I am today. ADC is an integral part of our community, and a voice for all Arab Americans. I recognize that the organization has faced serious challenges the past few months. I take this position with an open mind and a willingness to listen to those who have advice on how to better the organization. I look forward to serving the community, and moving ADC forward.”

Samar Khalaf, ADC President, 2013-2020

Samar Khalaf, ADC President, 2013-2020

His appointment was heralded by Dr. Safa Rifka, ADC Board Chairman who also helped refocus the organization’s energy towards defending the rights of Arabs and Muslims in the United States.

“The ADC National Board of Directors is delighted that Mr. Khalaf has agreed to serve as President of the organization,” Rifka said. “We have complete confidence in his ability to lead the organization, and further ADC’s essential mission of defending the rights of people of Arab descent and promoting their rich, cultural heritage “

Khalaf said he was honored to have worked his way up in ADC from a position as an Intern to become the organizations president.

The Arab Daily News

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Here is his complete statement:

“Over 20 years ago I was given an opportunity to join ADC as an intern, an experience that would change my life forever.  A little over seven years ago I was once given a unique opportunity, and that was to become the ADC National President – an opportunity which I could not pass up.  After much reflection and consideration, I have made the decision that it is time for me to move onto the next phase of my life. So, it is with both great sadness and excitement that I announce that I will be transitioning out of my role as National President of ADC.  

“I took the role during what was a challenging time for the organization, and community. ADC was facing great obstacles, and I knew the work would be difficult, but I would not shy away from the challenges. During my tenure as President,  ADC has reconnected with its core mission – protecting the rights of Arab Americans and uplifting our rich culture and heritage. ADC has recommitted itself to its legal roots, and the organization is now on the leading fronts of community legal and policy work. We have also made strides in rebuilding our Chapters and grassroots presence across the country.  I believe I have completed most if not all that I set out to do when I started.  

“I am grateful for all that ADC has done for me professionally and personally.  While I will no longer hold the position of President, ADC will always remain in my heart and in my mind.  I will continue to be a supporter and active member of the organization and will continue to volunteer my time to serve the community. I have agreed to stay on to help during a transitional period – this will help to assure a smooth transition to new leadership. I have also agreed to continue my service to ADC as a member of the National Board of Directors in the near future. 

“The search for the new president will be undertaken by a committee comprised of members from the ADC National Board.  For further information about the position please contact ADC Board Chairman Dr. Safa Rifka at chairman@adc.org.

“I would be remiss if I did not thank the dedicated and talented staff and volunteers I had the honor of working with throughout the years at ADC. Throughout my tenure at I had the opportunity to meet and work with ADC Chapters and members across the country – each of you helped shape me and the organization, and for that I am forever grateful.  I want to also recognize the partners and allies who stand with and by ADC as we collectively fight for all our communities.

“I wish the entire ADC family much success in the future.  Our community is facing many challenges, and there is a need for ADC now more than ever. I encourage everyone to continue supporting the organization and show the same support to the next President as you’ve shown me.”

Khalaf had a long and prestigious career in law.

When he became ADC President, Khalaf left his position as senior associate with the New York law firm of Barnes Iaccarino & Shepherd, LLP., specializing in union-side labor law and ERISA. He received his BA in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University and his JD with a Certificate in Law and Public Policy from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice in New Jersey, Maryland, District of Columbia, US District Court for the District of NJ, and the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Khalaf served in many positions over the years with ADC including as the Interim ADC Legal Director in 1997, and was an intern with the organization in 1996. Khalaf became the first ADC Intern to return to the organization as President – a testament to the organizations commitment to the development of young and future leaders. Mr. Khalaf recently served as a member of the National Board of the ADC. Since 2006, Mr. Khalaf has been a member of the Board of Directors of The Arab-American Family Support Center and served as its Board Chair. He also served as a member of the Arab-American Institute (AAI) National Policy Council and is the co-founder and co-chair of the NJ Arab-American Democratic Caucus.

In 2008, Khalaf had the honor of being appointed by the New Jersey Governor as a founding Commissioner to the NJ Arab American Heritage Commission. In addition he was also appointed by the governor to two state advisory committees, the NJ Advisory Committee on Police Standards and the NJ Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Immigration Policy. Mr. Khalaf was an Alternate Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Additionally, he has been involved in other organizations in various capacities including: Mental Health Association in Passaic County; TANWEER – The Arab-American Family Center of NJ; and St. Marks Syrian Orthodox Cathedral. He was also a member of the NJ Attorney Generals Arab and Muslim Advisory Committee.

ADC was founded in 1980, by the first Arab American Senator, James Abourezk. He declared the organization was needed in response to stereotyping, defamation, and discrimination directed against Americans of Arab origin.

ADC’s website is www.adc.org

The Arab Daily News

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The Arab Daily News

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