**UPDATE: Thank you to all of our supporters who came out to the benefit and made it a night to remember.





American Islamic Congress cordially invites you to its:

Fourth Annual “Light Up The Night” Benefit
Friday, December 13, 2013
6:30pm AIC Boston Center

On one of the shortest days of the year, the American Islamic Congress’ Cultural Center on Newbury Street hosts its fourth annual benefit – lighting up Boston with a celebration of culture, diversity, leadership, and community service.

The centerpiece of the evening is an awards ceremony honoring community leaders and innovators – some famous and some unsung heroes – who are making a powerful impact both in Greater Boston and around the world.

The evening’s celebration includes a marquis performance by Boston’s award-winning Dunya Ensemble, featuring soprano Burcu Gulec; an interactive exhibit spotlighting traditional costumes from Boston’s unusual cultural mosaic; a charity auction with great prizes; and Mediterranean cuisine from Sabur Restaurant.

All proceeds benefit AIC’s unique programming.



Lifetime Achievement Award:
The late Samina Quraeshi & Richard Shepard


Samina Quraeshi and Richard Shepard were partners in life and work, an architect and artist who devoted their careers to integrating design, education, cultural ambassadorship and authorship to help communities express their distinct cultural voices. With special attention to creative place-making and how society and culture shape identity, their multidisciplinary practice in architecture, design, illustrated books and visual art stretched from South Asia to Boston. Through paintings, books, teaching, and public speaking, Samina was a charismatic and persuasive advocate for inter-cultural understanding, inter-disciplinary education, and the vital importance of art and culture to the wider world. As a team, they worked directly with local citizens, institutions and corporations to create positive and lasting change.

This husband-and-wife team elevated Boston’s cultural scene with original artwork, scholarship, and cinema. Samina & Richard’s final collaboration was this year’s “Muslim Women in the Arts” exhibit at the AIC Center.

Community Activist of the Year Award:
Dr. Omar Salem


An orthodontist from Sharon, MA, who has brought outstanding humanitarian assistance to survivors of civil war in his native Syria, Omar has mobilized a diverse coalition in Boston and provided urgent care on the ground in refugee camps.

Omar Salem, DMD, MS, was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, and moved to the U.S. in 1996. He served on the faculty body at the Department of Orthodontics at Buffalo University until 2002, and then moved to Tufts University, where he served as Director of the Pre-doctoral Orthodontic Program until 2005. He has been in full-time private practice since 2005.

Omar serves on the Board of Directors of Karam Foundation, a leading U.S. NGO with humanitarian projects all over the world that has focused on Syria in the past two years. He also is serving a second two-year term as the Vice President of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) – New England Chapter. SAMS is considered one of the main organizations that provide medical relief programs to affected Syrians throughout Syria and the neighboring countries. Omar is serving a two-year term as the President of the Syrian American Dental Association. He is a founding partner and the vice chairman of the board of Great Hill Dental Partners, one of the largest and a highly reputable privately owned dental practice in New England. Omar lives in Canton, MA, with his wife, Zeina, and their three children, Hussein, Jad, and Maya.

Youth Activist of the Year:
Amani El Sehrawey


A native of Cape Cod, Amani El Sehrawey recently completed her Master’s degree in European Public Policy from King’s College London and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Boston University in International Relations and Muslim Studies. Her Master’s degree research focused on a comparative study of integration policies in Britain and France that related to Muslim minority populations in the respective countries. She is interested in how these policies directly impact people’s lives and their implications for social cohesion, security, and far-right counter-radicalization.

Professionally, Amani has worked to serve Muslim communities for several years. She interned at AIC’s former North African headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, several months after the 25 January revolution and assisted in democratic awareness and Muslim-Coptic interfaith work. Amani then moved to AIC’s Boston office, where she assisted in blogging on Middle Eastern civil rights issues and event coordination for the AIC Boston cultural center. While completing her Master’s degree, Amani worked as a case manager and field officer for Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), a project under the interfaith charity Faith Matters. While there, she counseled victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes and conducted outreach work throughout the southeast of England. She also appeared in the Guardian, Sky News, the BBC, and France24 on behalf of the organization to speak about the Woolwich tragedy and its effects on British Muslims. Amani has recently returned to Boston after finishing her degree and is excited about taking the next steps in her career.

Culture by Design Art Exhibition
To add to the celebratory tone of the evening, AIC is proud to announce the Grand Opening of the Culture by Design Art Exhibition.
Explore handmade clothing, on loan to us from numerous Boston community members, once donned for joyous celebrations from more than 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Tatarstan. The most basic materials of duffel, silk, satin, and linen become the foundation for identity and uniqueness. Textiles become language and colored dyes become dialects. From the Caucasus to the South Asian Peninsula to East Asia, these pieces of culture share our stories by thread.

Benefit Host Committee: (Alphabetical)

Sanaa Abidar and Elma Achtam | Mohammed Al Bardan | Prof. Cynthia Becker and Addi Ouadderrou |
Jasna and Kemal Colakhodzic | Anne and Jonathan Dorfman | Stephanie and Usama El Sehrawey |
Dr. Nada Farhat | MSerap Kantarci and Dr. Mehmet Ali Sanlikol | Mrs. and Mr. Mahmud Jafri |
Eliane and Gary Markof | Nelden and Detlef Gericke-Schönhagen | Susana and Jerry Villacres