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Meet Our Staff


Linda Sarsour, Executive Director

Linda Sarsour is a working woman, community activist, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” Currently she is the National Advocacy Director for the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) and ACCESS and locally serving as the Director of the Arab American Association of New York, a social service agency serving the Arab community in NYC. Linda is an alumna of NYU Women of Color Policy Network’s Women Leading the Way, Women’s Media Center Progressive Women’s Voices , Opportunities Agenda Communications Institute, honored by the White House in 2011 as a “Champion of Change”, and received the 2010 Brooklyn Do-Gooder Award from the Brooklyn Community Foundation.Linda is also a board member of the New York Immigration Coalition, a coalition of over 200 nonprofit agencies serving the diverse immigrant communities of New York State and the Network of Arab American Professionals-NY Chapter. She has been profiled by PBS, Yahoo News, NY1’s One on One With Budd Mishkin and the Guardian. She has been featured in local, national, and international media speaking on topics ranging from women’s issues, Islam, domestic policy and political discussions on the Middle East conflict. Linda’s strengths are in the areas of civil rights in the context of national security, community organizing, civic engagement and immigrants’ rights advocacy. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Kayla Santosuosso, Deputy Director / Director of Operations
Originally from suburban northeast Ohio, Kayla Santosuosso is a midwesterner at heart, but a New Yorker by trade. A perpetual student of Arabic and an enthusiast of the Middle East, Kayla interned for AAANY while in undergrad at NYU, where she was a Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies major. At NYU she was an Honors Scholar, and was named one of the 15 Most Influential Students, mostly for her work in environmental advocacy. She spent several years leading communications and engagement programs at the NYU Office of Sustainability, and managed sourcing for the Bushwick Food Cooperative in Brooklyn. She also co-founded a catering company for the film industry, which eventually evolved into an environmental consultancy for film production. Before returning to AAANY as Deputy Director, she spent the year working and living in the Middle East, where she led the establishment of an environmental education center in Beit Sahour, Palestine through the Arava Institute. A proud daughter of small-town independent restaurant owners, Kayla is the most in her element when working to build healthier, happier, and more self-sufficient communities. But when she convinces herself to take a break from all that, she can usually be found reading or writing, with a mug of Arabic coffee next to her. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________    
Cris Hilo, Youth Lead Organizer
  Cris joined the AAANY staff as Youth Lead Organizer in March 2014. For the past six years, Cris Hilo has been educating, organizing, and mobilizing in the diverse communities around immigrant and workers' rights. She is a member of GABRIELA New York and works on issues of violence against women and children, especially human trafficking of migrant women. She had worked at Philippine Forum in Woodside, NY working on youth development and alliance work with worker organizations including jornaleros and street vendors to uphold immigrant rights. Alongside with her organizing in the Filipino Community, she has worked on union campaigns with nurses' and teachers' unions, including the American Federation of Teachers. She finished her undergraduate degree in Natural Resources specializing in Environmental Justice and Community Education at Cornell University. She is originally from Los Angeles, California, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Click here for a clip from her interview on Aljazeera America while she was working on relief for typhoon victims and survivors in the Philippines. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Susannah Gund  

Susannah Gund, Adult Education Coordinator

Susannah joined the AAANY in July 2013 as the Adult Education Coordinator, having previously taught English, Arabic, and French in a variety of contexts. She has a Master's degree in Education and is a proud alumna of Swarthmore College where she studied Linguistics and Languages with Arabic and French. Susannah spent over two years living in Fez, Rabat, and Massa, Morocco teaching, working, studying Moroccan Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and Tachelheit Berber, and researching multilingualism and mother tongues in Moroccan classrooms. She is passionate about supporting multilingual, multicultural individuals and communities, linguistic human rights, and education for social justice. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  

Somia Elrowmeim, Adult Education Instructor

Originally from Yemen, Somia El-Rowmeim moved to New York in 2007. She joined AAANY as Adult Education Instructor in April of 2013. Before that, she volunteered in the AAANY as citizenship tutor. She graduated from Sana'a University, Yemen in June 2006 with Bachelors of Education/Major in Physics-Mathematics. She also has Administrative Assistant Certificate and Accounting Program Certificate from Kingsborough Community College in 2012. She has Teacher Assistant Certification from New York State. She has Secretary and Computer Diploma from Space Town Center for Computer & Language, in Yemen at 2002. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DSC_0100 (1)

 Ahmad Al-Ashqar, Advocacy and Civil Engagement Coordinator

Ahmad—an immigrant, son of an immigrant—was born in the Middle East, bred by displacement, and raised in Chicago. Having grown up in one of America’s largest Palestinian communities and under the wisdom of his grandfather—one of Chicago’s first Muslim community leaders—he was introduced to social activism at a young age. He spent a vast majority of his youth volunteering at IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network), and performing his socially-conscious raps, poems and spoken word pieces at various events throughout Chicago. During his tenure as an English Literature student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ahmad became heavily involved with on-campus organizations such as the SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) and MSA (Muslim Student Association), as well as several off-campus organizations committed to social justice and community empowerment: namely the AAAN (Arab American Action Network), the Mosque Foundation and its Youth Center, and the AMP (American Muslims for Palestine). After connecting with Viva Palestina, an international organization run by George Galloway, Ahmad was able to visit his country for the first time when he joined their multinational, interfaith humanitarian convoy to the Gaza strip in late 2009. After teaching high-school English and writing in Dubai for the past few years—where he remained involved with the UAE chapter of the PCRF (Palestine Children’s Relief Fund)—Ahmad is permanently back in America; however, he and his wife have bypassed their native Chicago on a quest to discover New York City. They’re settling in Bay Ridge, intent on pursuing graduate studies, and  still committed to striving for social justice.


Enas Almadhwahi, Office Manager

Originally from Yemen, Enas  Almadhwahi moved to New York in 2007. She joined AAANY as An Office Manager August 2014. Before that, she volunteered in the AAANY as office administrative and a case worker , as well as an intermediate ESOL instructor and child care supervisor. Enas studied  English in Yemen American Language Institute (YALI) , and studied English literature in Sana'a University, Yemen in 2007. She also has an Administrative Assistant Certificate and Accounting Program Certificate from Kingsborough Community College in 2012. She has a Teacher Assistant Certification from New York State.


Patrick Harned, Development Intern

Patrick is a senior at Hunter college, were he majors in Classical Languages and German and Arabic, as well as studying French and Japanese. He comes to the AAANY after a summer of volunteering at the Arab American Family support center's youth summer program. He plans on studying Arabic in Egypt after graduating next year, before preparing a masters degree in Migration Studies.



Jarrod Crockett, Citizenship Intern



Corin Smith Kent, Development Intern



Sophia Agag, NNAAC Youth Fellow



Nelly Abdalla, Adult Education Associate

Nelly is currently pursuing her Masters degree in International Affairs at NYU, with a strong  interest in Middle Eastern politics and justice. She received her Bachelors degree from John Jay College, majoring in criminal justice and law. She is  passionate about social justice and community service involving minority groups. Her future goals includ becoming a police officer that supports both the community at large and minority groups, with emphasis on social justice and perhaps bridging the current gaps in the relationship between the police community and minority groups.