Why Political Engagement Matters
September 28, 2020, 7:30 – 8:30 PM
Join AMAC Executive Director Sabina Mohyuddin and Metro Nashville At Large Councilwoman Zulfat Suara for a conversation with the 2018 gubernatorial candidate in Michigan and CNN political commentator Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and Minnesota State Senate candidate Omar Fateh about why political engagement is critical to building strong, well resourced communities where Muslims can thrive. Come prepared to ask questions to our guest speakers and find out ways you can increase political engagement on our communities! Read below for speaker bios.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, progressive activist, educator, author,
speaker, and podcast host. He is the Chair of Southpaw Michigan and a Political Contributor at
CNN. His book, Healing Politics (Abrams Press), diagnoses our country’s epidemic of insecurity
and the empathy politics we will need to treat it, and his forthcoming book Medicare for All: A
Citizen’s Guide (Oxford University Press, 2021) co-authored with Dr. Micah Johnson , offers a
no nonsense guide to the policy. He is the host of “America Dissected,” a podcast by Crooked
Media, which goes beyond the headlines to explore what really matters for our health. He is the
DeRoy Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan and a Scholar-in-Residence at Wayne
State University and American University, where he teaches at the intersection between public
health, public policy, and politics. He was previously a Sine Fellow at American University’s
Sine Institute of Policy & Politics and Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of
Politics, and served as a Sanders appointee and one of eight members of Vice President
Biden’s 2020 Unity Task Force for Healthcare.
In 2018, Abdul ran for Governor of Michigan on an unapologetically progressive platform.
Though he finished second of three earning over 340,000 votes in the Democratic primary, his
bid was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and
The Nation . Prior, he served the City of Detroit as Health Director, appointed to rebuild Detroit's
Health Department after it was privatized during the city's bankruptcy. He was the youngest
health official in a major American city and was awarded “Public Official of the Year” by the
Michigan League of Conservation Voters and "40 under 40” by Crain’s Detroit Business in view
of his leadership. Prior to entering public service, he was Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health where he led Columbia’s Systems
Science Program and Global Research Analytics for Population Health. He has over 100 peer
reviewed scientific publications that have been cited over 1700 times.
Abdul earned a Doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes
Scholar. He also holds a Medical Degree from Columbia University where he was an
NIH-funded Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow and Soros New Americans Fellow. He
graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Highest Distinction from the University of Michigan, where he
was chosen to deliver the student remarks alongside President Bill Clinton and was awarded
the Bicentennial Alumni Award in 2017. He is a native Michigander who was born and raised in
Metro Detroit, where he lives with his wife Sarah, a psychiatrist, and daughter Emmalee. He is a
proud member of the National Writers Union, AFT Local 477 & 6244, and SEIU Local 500. He
enjoys good people, good coffee, good food, and University of Michigan football.
Omar Fateh is the son of hard-working immigrant parents from Somalia. His father arrived in America in 1963 to study civil engineering on a full scholarship to Montana State University. His mother immigrated later and received her masters degree. His parents taught him the necessity of hard work. They instilled in him the values of leadership and personal sacrifice and raised him to work first and foremost to increase opportunity, justice, and equity for our community. While completing his Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Fateh spent his early career working youth deemed at-risk, especially students of color, to find opportunities in education. Next, Fateh worked for the City of Minneapolis as a Community Specialist, where he worked to improve the City’s outreach to East African communities. Next, he worked for the MN Department of Transportation as a project coordinator, functioning as a liaison between the state and outside researchers who studied the impact of MNDOT projects on the environment, communities, etc. Before running for office in 2018, Fateh worked for the MN Department of Revenue in the property tax division. In 2018 Fateh’s next work was to run for MN House of Representatives. He worked not only to promote his candidacy but also to engage the issues facing the residents of South Minneapolis. The 2018 campaign is where Fateh developed his platform and built his coalition of working class Minneapolitans, largely renters and young people across racial lines. Outside of work, Fateh is an Ambassador with Change the Narrative and a mentor with Tusaalo Mentoring. He served as the vice-chair of the Hennepin County 2040 Comprehensive Plan Policy Advisory Committee, which supervised the development of the Hennepin County 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Fateh has been active with local organizations and initiatives such as Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, VoteYes4Kids, 15Now, Minnesota Association of Public Employees, and the DFL Somali Caucus. Omar Fateh and his wife Kaltum Mohamed currently rent an apartment in the Phillips neighborhood.
Zulfat Suara was elected as an at-large council member in September 2019. With over 34 thousand votes from a diverse population she became the first Muslim elected to the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and the first immigrant elected to an at-large position. She is the first Muslim woman elected in the State of Tennessee and the first Nigerian woman elected to any office in the United States.
Always active in her community, she started the Hardeman County Junior Achievement and continues to advocate for children as a board member of PENCIL. Zulfat has served in several leadership positions, including the chair of the American Muslim Advisory Council, State President of the Business and Professional Women, Treasurer of the National Women’s Political Caucus and Chair of the Tennessee Women’s Day on the Hill.
She received the FBI Directors’ Community Leadership Award and was named the Muslim Policy Advocate of the Year by Islamic Society of North America. She was inducted into the Tennessee Women Hall of Fame by The Tennessee Economic Council on Women and on July 1, 2020, she received the Mary Hatwood Futrell Civil and Human Rights award from the National Education Association.
Zulfat is a CPA and the assistant controller at Meharry Medical College. She is married to her wonderful husband of 30 years and they are blessed with five amazing children.