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Immigration: A Catalyst of Change in American Cities

Speaker: Ismael Ahmed, Francisco Lara-Valencia, Ph.D., Hussein Samatar

Presented by the Urban Planning MLK Symposium Committee, Immigration: A Catalyst of Change in American Cities will examine the impact of immigrants on social interactions, economic development, and urban form in the U.S. Join us for a panel discussion about an issue that has social, political, and economic implications for all professions. The event will feature brief presentations by each panelist, a discussion between the panelists, a question and answer session, and be followed by a reception.

Scheduled speakers for the evening:

Ismael Ahmed: Mr. Ismael Ahmed was appointed by Gov. Granholm as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services effective Sept. 10, 2007. A nationally recognized expert in immigration and social reform, Mr. Ahmed leads the state's second largest agency. Mr. Ahmed co-founded the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) 36 years ago, and was appointed executive director in 1983 where he was responsible for overall operations of the organization to include the executive administration of the Arab American National Museum. ACCESS is the largest Arab-American human services organization in the United States. During his tenure at ACCESS Mr. Ahmed spent time mediating conflict between African-American residents in Detroit and store owners of Middle Eastern descent. For three consecutive years, Mr. Ahmed has been a guest speaker on U.S. and Arab relations at the Foreign Ministers Meeting of the League of Arab States. He chaired the Immigration Task Force and the Cultural Exchange Network for New Detroit. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Francisco Lara-Valencia, Ph.D.: Dr. Francisco Lara-Valencia is an Assistant Professor of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and Southwest Borderland Scholar at Arizona State University. He is also a faculty affiliated to the School of Geographical Sciences, the North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) and the Department of Transborder, Latina/o and Chicana/o Studies (DTLCS) in ASU. He received his Ph.D. in Urban Planning from The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and did graduate and undergraduate work in Mexico. He has lectured in Mexico and the United States where he has taught courses on urban land use planning, urban economics, environmental planning, and research methods for planners. Francisco's major areas of inquiry include socio-environmental vulnerability, urban health, regional development, binational planning, and the role of community networks on sustainable development. His policy research focuses on issues of equity and efficiency of policy making and planning along the US-Mexico border.

Hussein Samatar Hussein Samatar is the founder and executive director of the African Development Center, an entrepreneurial nonprofit working within the African communities in Minnesota to start and sustain businesses, build assets, and promote community reinvestment. In this role he has created several culturally-targeted alternative finance products and is frequently engaged to address financial, governmental and other community institutions on the topic of building wealth in emerging markets. Previously, he was a senior lender for the Neighborhood Development Center and a commercial lender with Wells Fargo and Norwest Banks. Mr. Samatar serves on the boards of several development and civic organizations, including the Minneapolis Foundation, CommonBond Communities, the Citizens League and the Dean's Advisory Board of the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Moderated By June Manning Thomas, Ph.D. Centennial Professor, Urban and Regional Planning Program, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, The University of Michigan
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When and Where

Map Art and Architecture Building - Room 2104 (Auditorium)

January 2010


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