If there’s a single common comment made about the co-founder of ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services), it involves his deeply intelligent conversation.
The soft-spoken and precise Ahmed can indeed turn a phrase, but his professional legacy is the real story. First appointed ACCESS executive director in 1983, ‘Ish’ (as he’s universally known) has spent thirty-six years directly involved in all aspects of the organization, the planning, analysis and budget of the organization which currently offers seventy programs serving over 50,000 people annually.
ACCESS currently employs over 150 persons and has a $12 million annual budget.
Perhaps the culmination of his ACCESS success was the founding of the Arab American National Museum, the first museum in the world devoted to Arab American history and culture. By bringing the voices and faces of Arab Americans to mainstream audiences, the museum is true to its commitment to dispel misconceptions about Arab Americans and other minorities.
Additionally, Ahmed is a 1975 graduate of the University of Michigan and a Michigan Certified Teacher and a veteran radio host whose shows include Radio Free Earth on WDET and World Mix on WDTR.
But is a statistical profile. As his many friends and admirers throughout metro Detroit know well, Ismael Ahmed is a warm, generous and wholly devoted individual, as our recent interview revealed.
A well-rounded Arab American, the American-born educator has roots in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. Despite his strong ethnic identity, his pioneer heritage here in the United States is stronger than most of us: his great grandparents were Minnesota homesteaders during the 1860’s, a time when it can be supposed that there were few Middle Easterners in country.
Firmly grounded in American patriotism and the traditions of his forefathers, Ahmed continues to be a prominent spokesman through the Arabic American community, bringing his unique perspective to boards, committees, classrooms and documentaries such as this one… with, of course, his customary eloquence.