Mayor Elorza empanels Providence's Muslim-American Advisory Board

Mayor Elorza Empanels the City’s Muslim-American Advisory Board
Announcement part of Mayor’s One Providence Initiative 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza Friday announced he will nominate eight (8) members to serve on the City’s Muslin American Board. The announcement follows the Mayor’s executive order calling for the creation of the board and is part of the ongoing One Providence initiative aimed at protecting and serving every resident of the city regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, or disability.

"I look forward to working with this group of accomplished and committed community leaders,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “They will help us promote a welcoming and inclusive Providence that is supportive of every individual in our city."

Nominees for the Muslim American Board include: 

•    Anne Walsh, a lifelong Providence resident and activist who has worked as a community organizer and an educator. Walsh is currently the Program Manager of Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston, where she handles management of all activities related to youth programs under the Federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) for the local workforce development board. 

•    Dr. Ehsun Mirza, a native of Pakistan who migrated to the United States in 1993. Dr. Mirza attended Brown University and joined Kent Hospital's Intensive Care Unit in 2003. He is a doctor, social activist, a sounding board member for The Providence Journal's Race/Discrimination Committee, and helped organize the first Muslim art exhibit to take place at Providence City Hall.

•    Gale Aronson, a respected community member who has served on the Board of Directors for Reach Out and Read, Blackstone Parks Conservancy, and Brown Medicine Magazine. Aronson has played a major role within the Refugee Dream Center which offers customized services targeting the refugee community by ensuring the continuation of services in their efforts towards self-sufficiency and integration.

•    Dr. Khaled Almilaji, a native of Syria and candidate in the Masters of Public Health program at Brown University. Dr. Almilaji is attending Brown University on scholarship and has launched humanitarian initiatives to improve the lives of those directly affected by the Syrian conflict.

•    MaryKae Wright, a local activist who has dedicated thirty (30) years to working to improve schools, advocating for local bond referendums, campaigning for political candidates, and serving on several non-profit boards. Wright has worked for the Refugee Resettlement Program at Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island and the International House of Rhode Island.

•    Monsurat Ottun, a native of the City of Pawtucket who received her undergraduate degree from Boston College where she majored in Human Development with a focus in Community Advocacy and Social Policy. Ottun also holds certificates in Entrepreneurship and Marketing and is a recent graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law. She is an active member of the Muslim Community Center of Rhode Island.

•    Muraina Akinfolarin, the Executive Director of Providence’s Oasis International. Akinfolarin is a prominent figure within the city’s Muslim community and has been a State Resident Engineer for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation since 1987. In 1995, Akinfolarin joined the Certification Review Committee where he has helped review and approve small businesses so they can participate in State and Federal programs.

•    Dr. Zubeda Jalalzai, an English Professor at Rhode Island College who has taught at the college since 2000. A first-generation Muslim immigrant, Dr. Jalalzai has worked in the areas of diversity and advocacy that have been central to her identity. Dr. Jalalzai has taught courses dealing with Islam - from introductory literature, up to senior seminars. 

Members of the Muslim-American Advisory Board will serve for a term of two (2) years and are charged with creating a system that better serves and empowers the Muslim-American community in Providence; help guide Mayor Elorza's policy decisions that affect Muslim-Americans by reviewing and discussing issues that directly and indirectly affect this community; enhance the understanding of the religion of Islam by encouraging dialogue; and promoting mutual understanding amongst religions..

Letters of nomination will submitted in the coming weeks. 

(release from City of Providence) 

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