ALI Leadership Institute Celebrates Annual Summer Gala

ALI Leadership Institute Celebrates Annual Summer Gala



Who: The Ali Leadership Institute

What: Graduated 10 ALI fellows and raised over $30,000 to support future programming When: August 2nd, 2022

Where: Liberty House

The Ali Leadership Institute (ALI) graduated their 4th class of fellows after they completed an 8- week-long leadership development program. This was the first in-person cohort in 2 years due to the pandemic.


The evening began with special remarks from Anisa Robinson an ALI Class of 2020 Fellow. Anisa is currently a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying biology. She remarked, “this program proved that no matter what field you specialize in or how young you are, you can make an impact on your community, and a substantial one at that.”


The audience then heard from the democratic nominee for congress in New Jersey’s 8th congressional district, Ron Menendez Jr. who remarked on the importance of an intergenerational commitment to change.


The next speaker was Jersey City, City Council president Joyce Watterman who spoke about the importance of three words: courage, commitment, and compassion. She also highlighted the diversity of the class and the importance of diversity in our society.


This was followed by a graduation ceremony. Each fellow receives a $400 stipend as well as micro-grants and mentorship to help complete their capstone projects. The names of the 10 fellows who graduated are as follows:


Omar Abuattieh*

Mina Azab Malak Aziz Rania Dadlani Sarah Dardir Matthew Kassi Ayaz Naeem Noran Nazir Marisa Syed Davidi Tawfiles


*Class Speaker


In addition to the 10 fellows who graduated, ALI also began the tradition of presenting two awards:


Policy leader award: Dedicated to a policy leader who is willing to take bold measures in the fight for our country’s future. This individual shows a commitment to advancing the betterment of young people in our society.


This year’s awardee was Commissioner Bill O’Dea. In his acceptance address, he spoke about how the greatest change in our country occurred not because people always agreed, but because people were willing to stand alone for what was right.


Young leader award: Dedicated to a young leader who strives to lift others as they climb. This individual shows a commitment to advancing the betterment of young people in our society.


This year’s awardee was Abeera Saeed. In her acceptance remarks, she spoke about the value of giving back to your community.


In his closing remarks, Mussab Ali, acknowledged that he is now one year cancer free and said, “A happy man has 100 wishes, a sick man only has one. But for me, I had more than one wish and I wished not only to be healthy but to continue to serve my community. This institute has given me the chance to give back and serve our next generation of leaders.” Commissioner O’Dea led the final toast.


The event raised over $30,000 in support of the Ali Leadership Institute’s efforts to help train the next generation of activists, organizers, and grassroots leaders.


Elected officials in attendance included:

  • Jersey City Board of Education President Gerald Lyons
  • JCBOE Trustee Younass Barkouch
  • JCBOE Trustee Alexander Hamilton
  • JCBOE Trustee Noemi Velazquez
  • Jersey City Councilperson Denise Ridley
  • Jersey City Councilperson Frank Gilmore
  • Jersey City Council President Joyce Watterman
  • Hudson County Commissioner William O’Dea
  • Hudson County Commissioner Anthony Romano
  • Newark Board of Education Member Asia Norton
  • Belville Board of Education Member Frank Velez III
  • Bloomingdale Board of Education Member Smita Nadia Hussain
  • Garfield City Councilman Pawel Maslag


Other distinguished guests included:

  • Democratic Nominee for Congress Rob Menendez
  • Superintendent of the Jersey City Public Schools Norma Fernandez
  • Business Administrator for Prospect Park Intashan Chowdhury
  • Former Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro
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