DR. HAIFA FAKHOURI AND THE ACC
The gallery of famous faces lining the Southfield office of Dr. Haifa Fakhouri is astonishing—prove positive of the political clout of the Arab American and Chaldean Council, the nation’s largest community based human service organization founded specifically for Middle Eastern communities and now expanded to include many mainstream communities throughout Southeast Michigan.
As president and CEO of the Council, Dr. Fakhouri takes justifiable pride in the accomplishments for which the ACC has been honored throughout the country. At the forefront is the $37 million development project which has revitalized the once-dilapidated Seven Mile and John R area near Woodward. “With so many Arab Americans moving into this area, the ACC saw a huge opportunity to improve living conditions throughout the Seven Mile stretch, not only for Arab Americans, but for all the people living there. We made a ‘We Will Be Involved’ commitment,” Dr. Fakhouri nods.
The Seven Mile project, which began in 1995, has involved a trio of recreation, education and cultural programs for the neighborhood. "We share, so we can care," said Virgil Phillips, recreation coordinator at the $3.8 million ACC Youth Leadership & Education Center which was completed a few years ago. Among the myriad on-going projects is the Artisan and Adult Learning Center and the ACC-Wayne County Behavioral Health Network Clubhouse, a facility for people who are mentally ill.
“It's our commitment to serve the neighborhood and everyone in the neighborhood, no matter what their background is," said Bob Ghannam, special projects director for the ACC. "We committed ourselves and our resources to go where other people won't go."
In the 28 years since its founding, the ACC has grown from a single office in downtown Detroit with a $20,000 budget to 39 offices in the tri-county area with a multimillion-dollar operating budget, offering employment and training programs. Dr. Fakhouri explains that the impetus behind the ACC’s foundation was the mirror she saw between the misery of refugees she saw in her native Jordan and the difficulties encountered by many new immigrants to the United States. Having graduated from Wayne State University as sociologist, educator and administrator, Dr. Fakhouri sits on Boards of a who’s who list of Detroit area businesses, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation; Detroit Institute of Arts; International Women’s Leadership Forum; Automation Alley’s International Business Center Advisory Council; and Women’s Leadership Board, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Of today’s ACC, which changes in concert with events throughout the world, she says, “Today, our clientele has become more diverse, and multi-ethnic. The rapid influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe as well as the mainstream in general has not only offered us an opportunity to expand our services, but we have also seen the need to increase our revenues to meet these very important needs.
Impressive growth from a single office in 1979 to 39 outreach offices today. ACC is the providing services specifically tailored for this unique population.”