April 5, 2013

The Best and Brightest

FBI Presents Director’s Community Leadership Awards

Director's Community Leadership Award Trophies

Throughout the year, dedicated and selfless individuals and organizations make extraordinary contributions to their communities across the United States. And every year, the FBI honors the very best among them with its Director’s Community Leadership Award.

Each FBI field office selects one individual or organization for the award, and each award recipient is publicly recognized at the local level. At a later date, all winners are brought to FBI Headquarters to be presented with their award by the FBI Director. And that’s just what happened today, when the nearly 60 Director’s Community Leadership Award recipients from 2012 were presented with their award by Director Robert Mueller during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The award recipients come from different backgrounds, different professional fields, and different parts of the country, and the issues they choose to focus on vary greatly. But they all have the same motivation—a desire to reach out to those in need and make their communities a safer place to live. 

Speaking to the honorees at today’s ceremony, Director Mueller said, “You [all] share the same vision for our nation’s future—one of hope, peace, and justice. You also share a willingness to lead—a willingness to step up and step forward—when countless others instead choose to take a back seat.”

Here are just a few examples of how one individual or organization can make a difference within their community:

  • In Atlanta, Soumaya Khalifa founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau to educate those unfamiliar with the Islamic faith and provide insight into how Muslim Americans live their daily lives. She often presents training to students, business executives, and military and law enforcement personnel.
  • In Birmingham, the non-profit Prescott House, a children’s advocacy center, works with federal, state, and local law enforcement to conduct forensic interviews of children who may have witnessed a violent crime or been the victim of sexual abuse, child pornography, or severe neglect.
  • In Buffalo, Nestor Hernandez is the former director of the Belle Center, a community center in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood known for gang activity. The center provides a safe place for children to play, teaches English to adult immigrants, and offers affordable day care for working parents.
  • In Memphis, Julaine Harris, while working for corporate and non-profit organizations, has spent years advocating programs that focus on reducing gang activities, protecting children from domestic violence, and providing affordable housing for low-income families.
  • In Minneapolis, Ka Joog—a Somali American youth organization—encourages young people to stay away from illegal drugs, violence, radicalization, and other negative influences while learning to assimilate into American society. The group also hosts regular seminars with members of the community and law enforcement.
  • In San Juan, Basta Ya Puerto Rico is an anti-violence non-profit organization. Among its accomplishments, the group created an application for smart phones that helps citizens report crime to police and developed “safety zone” areas with the combined resources of government, business, and community.
  • In Washington, D.C., Humera Khan, a dedicated advocate for American Muslims, is the founder of Mueflehun, a research organization that promotes service-minded communities and justice. Khan’s organization offers recommendations to multiple government agencies about countering homegrown terrorism and violent extremism.

Congratulations to all of our award recipients, who we hope will inspire a brand new generation of community leaders.