CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, was one of the key speakers at this year’s prestigious Independent Sector Annual Conference held at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago from October 30th to November 1st. Rehab discussed the national and international implications of the path towards democracy in the Middle East triggered by the Arab Spring at this year’s conference, titled “R-Evolutionary Times”.
Rehab, who was a Thought Leader at the panel titled, “Democracy and the Arab Spring”, discussed what is behind the youth-led, social media inspired movement and if democracy is now a certainty in the Arab world. The panel was facilitated by Bob Gallucci, President of the MacArthur Foundation, and had Annette Heuser, Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation, as a key speaker.
Rehab said that the Arab Spring has not only been a catalyst for change in the Middle East, it has also changed Americans’ attitudes about Arabs in other countries and in the U.S. “The Arab Spring acted as a stereotype-buster in regards to widely-held negative Western perceptions,” Rehab commented.
Rehab’s speech received positive feedback, generating buzz on Twitter and bringing the Arab Spring into focus yet again.
The three-day conference hosted Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the Featured Speaker. Other speakers included prominent community and civic leaders such as Esther Aguilera, president and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Dena R. Al-Khatib, a program officer for The Partnership for New Communities, Melissa L. Bradley, CEO of Tides, a nonprofit community organization, Richard Brown, Vice President of philanthropy at American Express, and Jeff Bradach, co-founder and managing partner for The Bridgespan Group which seeks to increase the flow of talented leaders within the nonprofit sector.
Numerous leadership foundations and civic organizations attended the convention which featured several other panels. Panels ranged widely in topics, which included, “Mobilizing Master Class”, about how nonprofits can effectively launch and sustain a movement, “Telling It Like It Is: The Power of Stories to Spur Change”, about how dynamic citizen journalists and filmmakers can promote campaigns through storytelling, and a participatory workshop called “Working Collectively for Greater Impact”, about partnership and collaboration in nonprofit organizations.