MPAC Young Leader Named a Soros Fellow for New Americans

April 17, 2014

MPAC is proud to announce that Young Leaders alum Salmah Rizvi has been named a 2014 recipient of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The fellowship program, founded in 1998, supports up to two years of graduate study in any advanced degree-granting program in the United States.

A first-year law student, Rizvi has an impressive career in public service prior to entering Law School. As a sophomore in college, Rizvi founded the non-profit Vision XChange, which organized fundraising events for humanitarian causes, such as fighting against child soldier recruitment and human trafficking. As a undergraduate student, Rizvi served as an intern in MPAC's Washington, DC office in 2007 and also participated in MPAC's inaugural Young Leaders Summit in Washington, DC that summer.

Following college, Rizvi worked for the Department of State and the National Security Agency (NSA), all while completing a MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and mastering numerous foreign languages, including Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and Arabic. As a linguist and intelligence analyst, Rizvi was responsible for translation and reports that would often be included in the President’s Daily Briefings.

In addition to this work, Rizvi headed a diversity initiative within the NSA itself. “I was able to work with leaders across the agency to educate our community on Islamic culture,” Rizvi says, “Not only to enhance our missions, making our reporting more nuanced and accountable, but to also ensure that Muslim Americans were treated as assets, rather than threats, to our national security .”

Rizvi, who has a Pakistani father and a Guyanese mother, credits her mixed upbringing with her ability to build bridges across communities. She also emphasizes the important role of her Shia Muslim heritage in the development of her passion for human rights and justice.

“There’s this idea of resistance and standing up to oppression that’s engraved in the Shia narrative, so through that I’ve always wanted to fight injustice,” she says.

She hopes to combine her legal, security, and nonprofit experience into a role as an effective politician and civic leader in Baltimore, a city she loves and desires to support through innovative advocacy and reform.

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