7 Questions with … Lucine Jarrah Executive Director, Arab American Heritage Council

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The words that best describe me are:

Passionate, creative, and learner. Whether it’s my work at the AAHC or organizing in my community, I have found that my passion not only brings more meaning to my work but also sustains it. This passion has also allowed me to bring forward creative solutions to the challenges that arise within our organization and with my work on the ground. In every role I take on, I have learned that when we tap into our community’s expertise, talent and ideas, we can bring forward meaningful change that will allow us to build a transformative and sustainable future together. My passion, creativity and commitment to lifelong learning have better positioned me in my work as an organizer and my future as executive director.

What is your favorite family recipe?

A dish called warak enab (stuffed grape leaves) – always a go-to choice for big, family dinners at my house. Traditionally, grape leaves are stuffed with rice and meat (or veggies) and placed in a pot alongside pieces of lamb and potatoes to cook for about an hour. The process requires a lot of patience, as it is one of the more time-intensive dishes. Growing up, I loved watching my mom and grandma talk about life and share stories as they stuffed and rolled warak enab together. This recipe has become one of my favorite dishes to make with my mom, and it is now something that I regularly make for friends and family.

 

What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better?

I’m so grateful to be surrounded by mentors, colleagues and friends who inspire me every day. Knowing that I have such an incredible community around me has gotten me through my hardest challenges. They have given me hope during tough times and played important roles in my organizing.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?

Quality time with family and friends is something I value tremendously. This year, my work and school schedules have made it difficult to find time for myself. However, in the last few months, I have tried to create more opportunities during the week to call or spend time with friends and family. We all need these spaces in our lives to strengthen our connections to each other and where we can rest, reflect and grow together.

Do you have any hobbies?

I have always loved watching, studying and discussing movies. Movies played a significant role in my life growing up, and I fell in love with the way stories can be captured and shared through the medium. As I got older, I realized that what I loved most about cinema was the ability to celebrate art, share space and build community with those around me. This fascination with cinema eventually inspired me to create a student organization that would highlight the power of the arts and the intersection between art and activism.

Who is your hero?

My mom (Bahia Mourad) is a big hero of mine. She is the reason I am who I am today. Her incredible love and sacrifice have given me the strength to stretch the boundaries of what is possible in my life. A trailblazer in her own right, she has fought hard in her life and always encouraged my siblings and me to be compassionate, tenacious and resilient. She truly holds our family together. I’m so blessed to have her support to carry me through every challenge and success in my life.

 

What’s one work-related thing you want to accomplish in the next year?

A primary goal of the AAHC is to build Arab American political power by making our voices heard through civic engagement and ensuring our communities are represented. Currently, Arab Americans are significantly undercounted in the census and other federal data, which has had dramatic consequences on Arab American representation. As a result, organizations like AAHC struggle to secure funding for resources and services that our community needs. This challenge will continue to impact our work in significant ways, and that’s why it’s something I’m fully committed to fighting for in my capacity as executive director.

 

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