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Young Professionals Network members and Tahirih staff smiling together

The Tahirih Houston office is excited to launch their Houston Young Professionals Network this month. They kicked off the group with an open house at Tahirih’s office with a committed group of founding members (pictured above). We interviewed Al Baraa Abu Hawili, the Chair of the Tahirih Houston Young Professionals Network (YPN), about his connection to Tahirih and his vision for the YPN. Al Baraa works as a Change Management and Adoption Services specialist at Dow Chemical. Al Baraa moved to the United States eight years ago from Lebanon, and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s in psychology, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Al Baraa’s journey with Tahirih began through a friend who introduced him to the organization’s mission and connected him with Lubabah Abdullah, the former Executive Director of the Tahirih Houston Office. For Al Baraa, supporting the mission of the Tahirih Justice Center is not just a choice, it’s a moral duty. He emphasizes that human rights should not be up for debate in 2023 and his frustration over issues like the curtailing of a woman’s right to bodily autonomy prompted him to take action. He’s particularly interested in policy advocacy and envisions a role for the Young Professionals Network to advocate for better immigration policies at the state and federal level. Al Baraa is committed to shedding light on the experiences of those facing gender-based violence and advocating for change in his community.

Al Baraa’s vision for the Houston Young Professionals Network is to build a welcoming and inclusive community. The group is not defined by age; rather, it’s about being excited, willing to contribute, and supporting Tahirih’s mission. The network’s primary goals are to raise awareness about Tahirih, recruit more supporters, and amplify their voices to bring about change. He hopes they can educate people about the Tahirih’s mission, raise awareness about immigrant survivors in Houston, and share stories that can change perspectives on gender-based violence and the challenges immigrants face. He emphasized, “The moment you hear a story, it changes your perspective, especially if that story impacts you in a specific way. It might be that you just feel compassion for that person, or you might know someone who goes through something similar and can imagine yourself going through that. It just changes your perspective on life and makes you appreciate what you have and motivates you to help others too.”

For members, Al Baraa says, joining the Young Professionals Network can offer a lot of personal and professional benefits. It’s an opportunity to step outside your daily routine, meet like-minded individuals, and discover potential career opportunities. More importantly, it’s a chance to build a community, a community that supports Tahirih, each other, and the wider Houston area. Al Baraa encourages young professionals in Houston to consider joining YPN, emphasizing that it doesn’t require a significant time commitment. Participating can be fun, informative, and personally satisfying. He believes that by doing something good for the community and for oneself, individuals can experience a sense of fulfillment.

If you are a young-at-heart professional in Houston, join Al Baraa and the Tahirih Young Professionals Network to make a meaningful difference in the lives of immigrant survivors and advocate for change in your community. Sign up to join the YPN email list to learn more about upcoming events and ways to support Tahirih.