| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter


Anan Ameri


With Malice Toward None

2651 Saulino Ct.
Dearborn, Michigan 48120
Anan Ameri is founding director of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, but she doesn’t want the museum to be seen as only for and about Arab-Americans. It’s a point of pride that the museum has become a resource for multi-cultural programming, helping to overcome segregation in metro Detroit.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Arab American National Museum Founding Director Anan Ameri: Somebody that can come up with an idea and know how to implement it and make it a reality. There are a lot of dreamers, but how can you implement that idea and how can you motivate people and inspire them to join you when you come up with an idea? Leaders lead by example and not by power. You do and they follow.
What is your dream for kids?
My dream for kids is to live in a safe, happy environment and to fulfill their dreams regardless of their ethnic background or what class they came from, and for an environment where kids can reach their potential. My dream for kids is that a kid doesn’t have to be shot or see their mother or father shot, that they don’t have to live in war zones; that they have the chance to live their childhood, to play, to have security. That’s what makes a great community.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
We live in a very segregated society, and people are not aware of the problems that other people have. You go to someone who lives in Livonia and tell them about something that happens in Detroit and they are not even aware. I think this
Thousands of students come here -- if we can change the minds of young people to be more open-minded, that's how I know we're making progress.
segregation is not helping us at all as a community.
One thing we should not overlook is to end the way schools are funded in this country; schools in poor neighborhoods get their funding based on taxes, and then you’ll have a school in Grosse Pointe half a mile away from a school in Detroit and the difference in funding and quality in Detroit is mind-boggling. You wonder if we are living in the same society. I think we don’t give young people equal opportunity.
How do you know you’re making progress?
In my field of work if I get people to come to my museum, if I reach more people in and outside the walls of my museum, if I work more collaboratively with my museum and the people who want to work with me, that’s how I know I am making progress. Thousands of students come here -- if we can change the minds of young people to be more open-minded, that’s how I know we’re making progress.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the fact we have established the first ever Arab American National Museum, and I’m also proud of our museum; we are ethnic-specific, but we do a lot of multicultural programming. We are looked at as a leader in this field despite our young age. That really makes me feel good. Although I am the founder of the Arab American National Museum, I have a mixed feeling about ethnic museums, because on the one hand you create a difficult situation, because groups don’t like the way other museums are representing them, but you can also ghettoize minorities with ethnic-centered museums.
Segregation creates barriers to engaging. I live in a society where for me to serve poor people I have to drive 50 miles.
You want to be sure what you create does not separate you from others as far as the joint experience you have with others that is part of a larger picture. The Arab-American story is the American story -- people coming to this country looking for a better life for themselves. We really wanted to be proud of being Arab-American, and really embrace other cultures – that is what distinguishes us from other museums.
What perceptions, messages, historical influences create the most significant barriers to engaging Michigan citizens in helping vulnerable children?
There is a fear to it; the fear lies when people are asking for people to be mentors to kids who are the most vulnerable in Michigan. I live in Ann Arbor, and a few years ago I lived in Detroit. The difference in schools, parks, etc. is huge. I think the barrier is fear, and we are a segregated society so people don’t think of their communities beyond color and beyond their neighborhoods. Segregation creates barriers to engaging. I live in a society where for me to serve poor people I have to drive 50 miles. We live in a class- and ethnicity-segregated society. Unless we overcome that, and the poor and minorities are not segregated, I don’t think we can make a whole lot of difference.
Signup for Email Alerts

Program Profile


    ACCESS is a nonprofit agency committed to advocating for and empowering individuals, families, and communities. ACCESS provides a wide range of health and human services, employment services, youth programs, educational and cultural programs and ...


Stuart Ray, Mindy Ysasi, Mike Kerkorian, Ellen Carpenter from Grand Rapids' Nonprofits

Jumping Ship: Former Corporate Leaders Tell All

Berston Bicycle Club

Kids Discover the Power of Pedaling


Taking Young Poets To A Bigger Stage

View All People


Infancy to Innovation list

Infancy to Innovation

Engaging families of color in identifying problems and solutions

Verona Early Grade Reading Achievement

Verona Early Grade Reading Achievement Program

Improving K-2 reading



Mixing learning and fun
View All Programs

Bright Ideas

ostdogood LIST

Company Supports 4th Grade Field Trips to Lake Michigan

Parents working more than one job or odd hours, a lack of funds, and no transportation often prevent kids from experiencing one of Michigan’s incredible natural resources. For the majority of west side Grand Rapids elementary school kids, Lake Michigan is sadly out of reach. OST has teamed up with Grand Rapids Public Schools to give fourth-graders at west side schools the opportunity to experience the big lake firsthand.

1000 Books Program at Kalamazoo Library.

One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten

If you were writing the book of a child's life wouldn't you like it to have a happy ending? Every day more children are signing up for a Kalamazoo Public Library program intended to give them a life that includes loving the reading of books. 

Superior Watershed foundation youth program

U.P. Youth Help Conserve Great Lakes

K-12 students are taking part in a monarch butterfly project, while 16-24 year olds have been working in the Great Lakes Conservation Corps for years. Both are initiatives through the Superior Watershed Partnership to connect youth with their environment.
View All Bright Ideas

Directly Related Content