The Ali Leadership Institute (ALI) celebrated the graduation of 10 fellows and presented awards to two community leaders at a gala at the Liberty House Tuesday night.
Some $30,000 was raised for the institute, which was established by Mussab Ali, the former Jersey City school board president.
The fourth class of fellows — Omar Abuattieh, Mina Azab, Malak Aziz, Rania Dadlani, Sarah Dardir, Matthew Kassi, Ayaz Naeem, Noran Nazir, Marisa Syed and Davidi Tawfiles — completed an eight-week leadership development program.
Each fellow receives a $400 stipend as well as micro-grants and mentorship to help complete their capstone projects, Ali said.
The evening began with special remarks from Anisa Robinson an ALI Class of 2020 Fellow.
“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,” Anisa Robinson, an ALI Class of 2020 fellow and currently a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying biology, said in the opening remarks.
The presumptive next Eighth District congressman, Rob Menendez Jr. and Jersey City City Council President Joyce Watterman also spoke at the event.
In addition to the 10 fellows who graduated, ALI also began the tradition of presenting two awards.
The Policy Leader award, dedicated to a policy leader who is willing to take bold measures in the fight for our country’s future and a commitment to advancing the betterment of young people, was given to Bill O’Dea, a member of the Hudson County Board of Commissioners .
In his acceptance address, O’Dea 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.
The Young Leader award, dedicated to a young leader who strives to lift others as they climb, was given to Abeera Saeed. In her acceptance remarks, she spoke about the value of giving back to your community.
Ali told the gala attendees that he is now one-year cancer free.
“A happy man has 100 wishes, a sick man only has one,” he said. “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.”
Elected officials in attendance included Jersey City Board of Education President Gerald Lyons and trustees Younass Barkouch, Alexander Hamilton and Noemi Velazquez; Jersey City Councilwoman Denise Ridley, Councilman Frank Gilmore, 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 and Garfield City Councilman Pawel Maslag.
Other officials in attendance included Superintendent of the Jersey City Public Schools Dr. Norma Fernandez, Business Administrator for Prospect Park Inthashan Chowdhury and former Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro.