Detroit — Nine outstanding women have been selected for induction into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame for 2007. The four Contemporary Division Honorees are Dr. Haifa Fakhouri, president, CEO, and founder of the Arab American and Chaldean Council; Jane Briggs Hart, who trained to become one of the first female astronauts and presided at the founding meeting of NOW; Mary Brown, a former state representative, the first legislator to hold hearings on key women’s issues, and the co-founder of the Michigan Women’s Assembly; and Kathleen Wilbur, a professional administrator and the first woman to lead three different departments in Michigan state government.
|Dr. Haifa Fakhouri|
The five Historic Division Honorees are Dr. Gertrude Buck, a progressive author and education reformer; Emma Cole, noted botanist and chronicler of Grand Rapids area flora; Dr. Carolyn Geisel, a medical doctor who educated thousands as a public health lecturer on the Chautauqua circuit; Abigail Rogers, an educator and activist who fought for the admission of women to the state’s universities; and the Women’s Hospital Association, which established Lansing’s first hospital and serves the Sparrow Health System today.
The Michigan Women’s Studies Association (MWSA), an academic-professional organization, was founded in 1973 on the campus of Michigan State University.Their goal was to change what is thought and taught about women’s role in history, particularly Michigan women, in public schools and at the college level.
In February of 1976, anticipating the need for a broader role and mission in community education, MWSA was formally reconstituted as a non-profit corporation and granted 501(c)3 tax exempt status.
The current Center was dedicated and opened to the public on June 10, 1987, the anniversary date of Michigan’s ratification of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment. The Center has encouraged Lansing’s efforts to restore Cooley Gardens, and is now surrounded by a beautiful garden and picnic area.
The Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame displays cultural and historical exhibits on the accomplishments and achievements of Michigan women.The Center is also home to the Belen Gallery in which the work of Michigan women artists and photographers is shown.
In October of 1983, the first Awards Dinner for the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame was held in Dearborn at the Fairlane Manor. This event was attended by over 700 friends and supporters, men as well as women of different races and origin.
The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame Gallery currently displays over 200 distinguished women including Rosa Parks, Helen Milliken, Betty Ford, Patricia Hill Burnett, Lily Tomlin, Gilda Radner, Dorothy Comstock Riley, Mother Waddles, Sippie Wallace, Jean “The Queen” Steinberg, Helen Thomas, former Lieutenant Governor Connie Binsfeld, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Aretha Franklin, and Governor Jennifer Granholm.
The Michigan Women’s Studies Association, the Center’s parent organization, also sponsors an academic conference each spring to bring more visibility to women’s roles in history and current issues in women’s studies.
This year, the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame Dinner will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. Tickets are $125/person and may be reserved by calling 517-484-1880 after Labor Day.
Fakhouri has also been appointed to a position on Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Women’s Leadership Board. The group comprises influential women around the world who are responsible for advancing women globally through leadership, advocacy and dialogue on public policy.
“This latest role provides a new window of opportunity not only for me personally, but for the ACC as a human services organization,” Fakhouri said. “ACC has been an accommodating force for those seeking our extensive services and programs since we opened our doors 28 years ago. I have a clear and broad knowledge of issues that have shaped the Middle Eastern community. I feel I could enhance the rest of the board’s perception of what it means to be an Arab American and Chaldean immigrating and trying to find an identity in the U.S.”
Fakhouri’s active role in Arab American and Chaldean affairs allows her to share her extensive views on activities and situations that affect the Middle Eastern community. Fakhouri’s latest position on the board is a perfect fit considering she has been recognized over the years for her philanthropic and leadership efforts. She has served as a national officer to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as an international consultant on women’s issues.
Fakhouri is also a recipient of several past awards and appointments including the 1999 Michiganian of the Year Award, Wayne State University Headliner Award, the FBI’s Outstanding Community Services award, the 2001 Lady of Charity Award by PIME Missionaries, the 2003 Olivet College Award for Leadership in Individual and Social Responsibility and recipient of the State of Michigan Government Award.ACC has been recognized by former U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham on the Congressional Record for its leadership and outstanding service to the community and Fakhouri has also received the 2005 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Fakhouri was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee Board in 2005.
And, on August 21, 2007, Fakhouri will be honored at the 1st Annual Mt. Olive Community Development Organization Diversity & Multicultural Golf Outing. She is being recognized there as a role model for diversity and multiculturalism. She has provided a bridge for economic self-sufficiency and the actualization of human potential for many through her development and implementation of employment and training programs. Fakhouri is the master planner of a $37 million development project to revitalize a dilapidated neighborhood in Detroit and address the pressing needs of the surrounding community with the end result of a healthier and more dynamic community.