90 Young Leaders Complete 5 Young Leaders Summits

Delegates Prepare for Reunion at MPAC Convention

November 19, 2013

With more than 90 young leaders in attendance from all over the U.S. and Canada, our five Young Leaders Summits this summer inspired and empowered American Muslim students to make a difference in government and policy, media, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and their local civic sphere. Next up, we're expecting about 50 alumni to gather for our Young Leaders Reunion at our convention next month.

 Spanning across the country from New York to Los Angeles, summit delegates were given an insider’s look and hands-on experience in the nerve centers of public opinion and policy: the media and entertainment industries, government, technology and civic society. Additionally, MPAC launched its first Silicon Valley Summit, which focused on providing a path for young entrepreneurs to leverage technology and innovation for social good.


 At the Young Leaders Media Summit in New York, delegates met with senior editors and producers at the country’s top media outlets, including the New York Times and NBC News and learned the tools to break into this fast-paced industry.

“I left the summit realizing the power of storytelling, and the need for a Muslim voice in the media now more than ever,” said Nashwah Akthar, a Media Summit Delegate and a senior at the University of Southern California. “This experience was one of the best I have ever had. I thought it was a perfect balance between the professional and social worlds. I was able to expand my professional network, meet some great mentors, make memorable friends and explore the amazing city of New York.”

Read more about MPAC’s Young Leaders Media Summit.


Following New York, more than a dozen delegates gathered in Los Angeles for the Young Leaders Hollywood Summit and met with creative artists, writers, editors, agents and producers who discussed working on high-profile projects such as “Modern Family,” “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” and “The Closer” and how it feels to be an American Muslim in the entertainment industry. Plus, they had the opportunity to meet with executives at CBS Television and Sunset-Gower Studios.

"It was inspiring, and scary, to know that for every idea I had, tons of other people took that idea and made something of it,” said Eman Haggag, a teacher and improv actor from Maryland. “With every session, I walked away realizing that if I wanted to do something, I’d just have to do it. And the more unique I thought I was, the harder I’d have to work to stand out. This summit affirmed my faith in myself and pushed me harder than I imagined. I believe I will do it, insha’ Allah (Godwilling).”

Read more about MPAC’s Young Leaders Hollywood Summit.


 In Washington, DC, almost 30 delegates gathered for the seventh Young Leaders Government Summit, the first summit that launched MPAC’s Young Leaders Program in 2007. The delegates met with senior White HouseState and Homeland Security Department officials, as well as Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), the second Muslim to be elected to the House of Representatives.

“I was challenged both intellectually and emotionally, and I quickly found the U.S. government is not against me, but rather is on my side,” said Seraphin Dhanani, a sophomore at Wellesley who hails from Sugar Land, TX and also interned in MPAC’s DC office this summer. “I learned that in order to be successful during these conversations (with policymakers), I had to understand both sides of the story. Instead of sitting and accusing these politicians, leaders, and policy makers for targeting Muslims, I had to turn my ideas around and ask what is the American Muslim community doing to voice our concerns?”

Read more about MPAC’s Young Leaders Government Summit.


Following Ramadan, MPAC paired up with the Muslim Youth Group of the Islamic Center of Southern California for the Young Leaders Los Angeles Civic Summit. Combining the arenas that were explored in the previous three summits, this condensed program opened the door for college and high school students to strengthen their voices and learn how to become more civically engaged in their city. These 18 delegates met with editors at the Los Angeles Times, government officials on the local and national level and Hollywood executive at the Sunset Gower Studios. With a heavy arts component, the pivotal moment of this summit came when delegates took a tour of the Japanese American National Museum and learned about Japanese internment camps and the stain of discrimination and racism on our country’s history.

“In a matter of three days, I have learned more about myself than I have in an entire school year,” said Sara Erickson, a L.A. Civic Summit Delegate and a high school senior. “I have been exposed to so many different environments that allowed me to become more conscious of my interests. I met different professionals, and I got hands-on experiences that gave me insight into what I want to do with my life.”

Read more about the MPAC/MYG Young Leaders L.A. Civic Summit.


Closing out the program in late August, was the first Young Leaders Silicon Valley Summit in Mountain View, CA. For four days, 14 delegates from eight different states learned how to leverage technology and innovation for social good. They met with more than a dozen prominent tech and social entrepreneurs from GoogleLinkedIn, Plug and Play Tech Centerand the D.School at Stanford. The young leaders were challenged to take part in an action-packed hackathon, where they broke into teams and created projects to address challenges facing the American Muslim community and then competed in a pitching competition before a panel of prominent judges and community members.

“This summit isn't just about meeting other incredible individuals truly committed to social impact,” said Komal Magsi, a graduate student at Columbia University, founder of GlobalAltruist and a Silicon Valley Summit Delegate. “It's about learning how to believe in yourself and implementing your ideas. MPAC connects young Muslims American leaders to the resources they need to make a difference. The future is already here; we are the leaders of today!”

Read more about the MPAC’s Young Leaders Silicon Valley Summit.

From Dec. 13-16, alumni from all of our Young Leaders programs will gather for the Young Leaders Reunion during our 13th Annual Convention in Long Beach, CA.

To learn more about our Young Leaders Summits, visit summits.mpac.org or email summits@mpac.org.

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