NNAAC Fellow Sonia Ali: I want our stories to be told

NNAAC’s Transformative Leaders Fellowship Program develops crucial leadership skills in select university students and recent graduates across the country through an ongoing partnership with our various member organizations. These aspiring young adults learn more about the issues facing Arab American communities, see how nonprofits are managed and work toward creating a personal professional growth plan.

Get to know Sonia Ali, one of our 2016-17 fellows, in our interview with her below.


Sonia Ali

Mizna | St. Paul, Minn.
Portland State University - Graduated in 2013, Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing


Q: Why did you join the Transformative Leaders Fellowship program? 

A: I decided to join the Transformative Leadership Fellowship program as a way to further develop my leadership skills, and learn to become a better advocate for causes that are important.

Q: What personal or professional goals do you want to achieve during this program?

A: There are a lot of ways cultural memory gets translated through storytelling, whether that’s passed on orally or through publications like Mizna. I’m passionate about storytelling, and one way I’ve explored that is to become engaged with the stories we tell ourselves, others, and our community. My goal during this program is to find ways in which I can apply information to bettering myself, professionally and personally, so that I can become a better ambassador for Arab American literature here in the U.S. and abroad.

Q: How does this program fit into your future plans? 

A:  I’ve worked in small teams and businesses for all of my adult life, and it’s something that I enjoy and hope to continue. My hope is that I can take what I learn in this program and apply those things to becoming a more well-rounded person in the workplace and outside of it, as well.

Q: Describe yourself in three words. 

A: Feminist, Storyteller, Listener


The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) Transformative Leaders Fellowship Program (formerly the Youth Fellowship Program) increases the capacity of our member organizations to provide additional support to their communities, while at the same time develops crucial leadership skills in the fellows themselves. The program engages college students and/or recent graduates over a nine-month placement with a NNAAC member organization. Fellows are recruited by NNAAC members locally, and in partnership with universities. Learn more.

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