About Us

Mission

We organize to fight for racial and economic justice and the dignity and liberation of our Arab, and Muslim communities. We work towards the self-determination of our people under attack in Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and across the entire SWANA (South West Asia and and North African) region with the same breath that we fight for our freedoms here in the United States. We see our struggles here as a domestic manifestation of global militarism and racial capitalism, and as the root causes of the political, social and economic instability of our homelands. In that spirit, we see the liberation of our people as inextricably tied to the liberation of all oppressed people.

AROC serves poor and working class Arabs and Muslims across the San Francisco Bay Area, while organizing to overturn racism, forced migration, and militarism. Recognizing the diversity of experiences within our community, AROC utilizes a multi-pronged strategy providing a centralized space for social services meeting material needs, developing analysis, creating strategy, and leading grassroots campaigns for systemic changes that make tangible impacts in the lives of working class SWANA communities.

We are also committed to and actively developing interventions to heal the generational trauma grown from patriarchy and white supremacy so as to not reproduce systems of harm that prevent our community from taking effective action towards the transformation and liberation of our people.


Our Team

Arab Youth Organizing (AYO!) Team
Nour Bouhassoun, Youth Coordinator

Nour was born and raised in Syria and moved to the Bay Area in 2012. She currently works as the Youth Coordinator of Arab Youth Organizing (AYO), the youth arm of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. Nour has been a youth leader with AROC since 2016, and she loves being part of spaces that challenge the root causes of forced migration and war while uplifting gender, racial, and economic justice. Her work with AYO focuses on providing a vehicle for Arab youth to connect around their shared struggles, explore their cultural identities and migration history, and organize for social change in areas that most impact their lives.

Sabreen Imtair, Youth Coordinator

Sabreen was born in Palestine, came to the Bay Area with her family at a very young age, and has called the Bay her second home since then. She went to San Francisco State University for undergrad, where she received a bachelor's degree in Political Science, and double-minored in Arab and Muslim Ethnicties and Diaspora Studies (AMED) and Race and Resistance Studies (RRS). She is currently pursuing a Master's in Ethnic Studies from the SFSU College of Ethnic Studies. She did student organizing work at SFSU with the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), joined AROC in 2019, and now is an AYO co-organizer.

Base Building Team
Deema Hindawi, Service Coordinator

Deema Hindawi, a Lebanese American, was born and raised in San Francisco to Immigrant Lebanese parents. Deema began organizing while attending Humboldt State University in Northern California, and was a Seeding Change Fellow with AROC the summer of 2020 before joining staff in the fall of 2020. Along with administrative tasks and base building, they coordinate the Arab Service Provider network.

Wassim Hage, Case Manager/Community Outreach Coordinator

Wassim is Lebanese, born and raised in Houston, Texas. As AROC's case manager and outreach coordinator, he's excited to work to build power with and support our Arab communities here in the Bay Area, and in our homelands. In his free time, he enjoys performing dabke with Al-Juthoor Dabke Troupe.

Sharif Zakout, Lead Organizer

Sharif is a Bay Area born and raised organizer and artist. His family comes from the al-Majdal region in Palestine. On the side he creates art and music that uplifts international solidarity with Palestine, linking different struggles, and highlighting our collective resistance. Long Live International Solidarity!

Legal Team
Maraika Kuipers-Sharsher, Paralegal

Maraika is from Tulkarm and Jaffa Palestine, and the Netherlands, and she was born and raised in Fresno, California. She received her master’s in Migration Studies from the University of San Francisco and a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy with a minor in Middle East Studies from Fresno State. She has many years’ of experience in the immigration law field as well as working with refugees and asylum seekers from across the world, helping refugees stuck in host countries gain access to resettlement to safe third countries. As a paralegal for AROC, she is passionate about making sure our community has equal access to immigration legal services and family reunification. She completed her master’s thesis on Palestinian resistance literature and loves to read and write fiction stories. All community members who wish to have a consultation will speak to Maraika as she also handles all legal admin as well as her own caseload. Maraika started out as an intern with AROC and is now a proud member of the staff.

Morsal Sais, Paralegal

Morsal was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and resettled in the US in 2011. She has an LLM in Asian and Comparative Law from the University of Washington, School of Law. Morsal was a Member of the Kabul 2011 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court competition, the world’s largest moot court competition in international law. She has experience in legal clinical work and is currently assisting our immigration legal team.

Amria Ahmed, Immigration Attorney

As an immigrant who grew up in Arab and Muslim communities in New York and Michigan, Amria understands the unique challenges that face our community. She is dedicated to serving and representing immigrants and advocating for the rights and freedoms of all people. Amria first joined AROC as a staff attorney in 2012, and rejoined AROC in 2018. She has successfully represented individuals at a variety of levels including Immigration Court, USCIS, the Asylum Office and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Prior to joining AROC, Amria practiced trial litigation with a law firm in Detroit, MI, where she represented injury victims in federal and state courts, some of whom were Bay Area maritime workers. During law school, Amria interned at the ACLU and U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She also served as an associate editor for the Journal of Law in Society and as a member of her law school's national trial team.

Leadership Team
Eman Desouky, Director of Resource Mobilization

Eman is a U.S. born Afro Arab who’s ancestors called the Nile Delta home for centuries. Alexandria, Egypt, and Oakland, California are currently the places she calls home. Eman has been an activist, cultural worker, and entrepreneur in the Bay Area for almost 25 years. 522 Valencia, where AROC is housed, has been her political home (since her days working with AROC’s predecessor ADC-SF and the Center for Political Education back in the early 2000s) and she is proud and thrilled to return to the building as the new Resource Mobilizer for AROC to help AROC build power and thrive!

Jay Conui, Director of Operations

Jay was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. He comes to AROC with over 20 years of experience working in social justice and national liberation movements. Equally important to Jay’s movement responsibilities is his commitment to raising a healthy and happy teenage daughter and son.

Lara Kiswani, Executive Director

Lara is from Beit Iksa and Aqir, Palestine, and was born and raised in the Bay Area. She received her master’s in education at San Francisco State University, and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the University of California Davis. Lara has been active in movements against racism and war, for Palestinian self-determination, and international solidarity for the last 20 years. In 2016, Lara represented her community as part of the historic Black and Indigenous delegation to Palestine. Lara was granted the LeaderSpring Center fellowship in 2015, and in 2017 was awarded the Vera Haile Champion of Justice from the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission. Lara is currently a San Francisco Foundation Mission Neighborhood Koshland Fellow, was named a 2021 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 Honoree, and is a faculty member at San Francisco State University in the College of Ethnic Studies.

"Your power is relative, but it is real. And if you do not learn to use it, it will be used, against you, and me, and our children. Change did not begin with you, and it will not end with you, but what you do in your life is an absolutely vital piece of that chain."