MPAC helped me fulfill "a longtime dream"

How this MPAC Alum is following his dreams and helping others to do the same

August 10, 2018

Guest column by CLDP Alum RJ Khalaf


My name is RJ Khalaf, and in 2016 I was a fellow in MPAC’s Congressional Leadership Development Program (CLDP) in Washington, DC. This program prepares fellows for careers in politics, policy making, and public service, and places interns in Congressional offices to gain firsthand experience.

My experience as a CLDP fellow

Interning on Capitol Hill was a longtime dream of mine, and I was assigned to Representative Andre Carson (D-IN 7th District) where I learned about the intersectionality of so many issues that impact all communities, including American Muslims.

In DC, I was amazed by the profound relationships MPAC has built with legislators, with CLDP fellows benefitting from the fruits of that labor.

"As my advisor told me, 'If you’re not at the table, you’ll be on the menu'."

The CLDP is a uniquely robust, well-structured and networked program where American Muslims gain skills and make connections that put us at the table in ways that benefit us not only in government but through the rest of our lives and careers.

Our intern selfie that went viral!

Our intern selfie that went viral!

Writing a New Chapter after CLDP

Since my fellowship, I graduated from college and started Lead Palestine, an annual summer program for refugee youth in Palestine to help builds their skills in leadership, self-expression, and confidence, and to give them hope. This summer I am starting a similar program for marginalized youth in Las Vegas, where I grew up. Youth need a sense of safety, self-worth, and a place to be with people who believe in them in order to succeed-the way people believed in me and helped me believe in myself. I believe that these types of programs are an act of worship that are just as important as praying five times a day.

Lead Palestine is a summer youth program that builds leadership skills & hope. 

Change is possible, but only if we invest in our future civic leaders. Please consider making a gift to MPAC so youth like me can be empowered to lead. Your donation is zakat-eligible, tax-deductible, and deeply appreciated.

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