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Michelle Mittelstadt
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ACCESS, based in Dearborn, MI, is the largest Arab American human services provider in the United States. Founded in 1971 in a storefront by volunteers as the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, ACCESS today has nine locations throughout metro Detroit and more than 90 programs serving the region and immigrant communities nationwide. ACCESS served nearly 70,000 individuals during its 2010-2011 program year, offering a comprehensive array of wraparound services to people from origins in the Arab world and beyond — many of whom are clustered in neighborhoods where poverty rates are high and education and English skills are low.

The ACCESS approach to intervention is three-pronged: Family stabilization, civic engagement and citizenship preparation, and integration and building bridges within the community for successful lives.

ACCESS programs include employment and job training, health initiatives and medical assistance, social services, engagement of youth in community service and neighborhood revitalization, and after-school education. ACCESS has also spearheaded three national initiatives: the National Network for Arab American Communities, the Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Arab American National Museum (the only museum in the United States devoted to Arab American history and culture), and the Center for Arab American Philanthropy.

FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE: Innovation in Service of Supporting Immigrants and Easing Their Transition into US Society

ACCESS has matured into the largest organization servicing the Arab American community in the United States, innovating at every stage to offer a comprehensive array of human services — always with the overarching goal of supporting immigrants and easing their transition and integration into US society at the economic, social, and cultural levels.

Beyond its work as a human services provider, ACCESS plays a key leadership role in the Arab American community in metro Detroit and at the state and national levels, focusing on building relationships between Arab Americans and blacks, Latinos, and other immigrants. Its services have expanded to the larger immigrant community, with its English as a Second Language courses attracting Latino and Asian immigrants, and increasingly to Eastern European and African communities in areas outside of Detroit.

ACCESS has a demonstrated track record of serving as a national leader in promoting understanding of the Arab American community and as a resource and support network for other Arab American organizations in the United States.

Through the Arab American National Museum and initiatives such as the annual Concert of Colors with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, ACCESS engages in arts and cultural outreach and exchanges that allow native communities to learn more about their new neighbors. The museum, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, has a respected library and offers cultural trainings to police departments, students, medical professionals, and others while also serving as a national clearinghouse of information and other resources for greater understanding of the rich history, culture, and religious traditions of Arab Americans.

ACCESS serves a population under significant pressure since 9/11 and has used its cultural and educational programs to take on the stereotypes and fears that surged after the attacks. Through its museum, the National Network for Arab American Communities, and the Center for Arab American Philanthropy, ACCESS has united Arab American groups and communities while giving them the tools to help dispel myths and better connect with immigrant and native-born communities.

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Program Leadership

Hassan Jaber
Executive Director, ACCESS

Hassan Jaber, Executive Director of ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) helped transform ACCESS from a storefront organization into the country’s largest Arab American organization. He has developed various social and legal programs, and administered immigration and advocacy services. He played a role in the advancement ACCESS’ mental and community health, employment services, and youth and education departments.

Born in Lebanon, Mr. Jaber immigrated to the United States in 1977. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics and a master’s degree in public administration from Wayne State University. He is a 2001 Leadership Detroit graduate, and Social Enterprise Training, Harvard Business School 2009.

Mr. Jaber’s board memberships and affiliations include: the Henry Ford Health System Board of Trustees; Arab American Institute National Leadership Board; the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, which he co-founded in 1992; State of Michigan Commissioner, Quality Community Care Council; US-Arab Economic Forum Steering Committee; the University of Michigan — Dearborn Citizens Advisory Committee; and Ford Foundation, Innovation Workshop on Engaging Unheard Voices in Foreign Policy Steering Committee.

Mr. Jaber taught Arabic language and culture at the University of Michigan — Dearborn. He has also lectured on a range of topics related to Arab Americans, immigrants, and civil-rights issues.