What country were you born in, and how long have you lived in Cleveland?  

I was born in Amman, Jordan. I came to the US for the first time around 7 years ago to pursue my undergraduate studies at an all-women’s institution called Smith College. I moved to Cleveland the day after I graduated from Smith and have lived here for almost three years now. 

The pioneers and supporters of International Women’s Day believe that “from challenges come change.”: What has been the largest challenge in your journey toward personal success?  

I recently read a quote by a psychiatrist and best-selling author Dr. Scott Peck that resonated with me. He says “Life is difficult. Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” I bring up this quote because it reminds me that the largest challenge in my journey so far has been not succumbing to the voice that says something is too difficult for me and that I should settle for less. I’ve seen myself shine brightest when I accept that something is difficult but set sail to take this challenge head-on.  

I think for many of us, fighting this internal, criticizing, self-pitying, self-doubting voice is the biggest hurdle to self-actualization. For those of us who feel as though we are paving our own path – whether personally, professionally or both – this voice can either paralyze our abilities to get there or empower and push us forward to the finish line. It’s ultimately our choice to hear the voice that we want to become. 

You have been nominated for this recognition by another amazing person, proving that we are so much stronger when we support one another. What is one piece of advice you have for women in your community and all over the world?   

I feel very fortunate that at every step of my journey, I have been supported by a woman who believed in me and pushed me to do the uncomfortable. These women did not just celebrate my successes and empathized with me on my setbacks, but they were most influential to me because they gave me honest, critical advice when I needed it, helped me acknowledge my blind spots and shortcomings and pushed me to my true limits. One of my female mentors in Cleveland, for example, recently helped me realize that like many other women in the workspace, I can come off as being “over-apologetic”. Perhaps these scenarios sound familiar to you — saying sorry before speaking up in a meeting, getting permission before asking a question, using a lot of “thank you’s” in your emails to make them sound kinder. My one piece of advice to women is to notice yourself in moments where you are over-apologizing and over-thanking and to stop yourself. You deserve to ask your question; you deserve to speak up in a meeting; you deserve to sit at the table, and you don’t need to apologize or thank anyone for what you deserve.  Remember that you do not owe anyone but yourself the right to take up space and reclaim your power.  

How can the greater Cleveland community encourage, support, and amplify the success of international women? 

There are many international women in the greater Cleveland community who have moved mountains in their personal and professional journeys. There are also international women who absolutely have the potential to move mountains but lack the support, resources, and connections. Global Cleveland has played an important role in connecting these women altogether, but there is a lot more work to do. I can personally say that the most influential mentors to me have been international women who can relate to my story and challenges. The more we can bridge the two generations, the more success we can unlock. I am currently working in the field of Venture Capital, and I have yet to meet another Middle Eastern born-and-raised young female working in the field, not only in Cleveland but the US at large. In fact, perhaps if I did, I would have intentionally gone out to pursue this field knowing that I, too, can get here. Fortunately, a combination of luck, warm connections, and being at the right place at the right time worked in my favor, but the odds to have not entered the field were significantly higher. I want other young Middle Eastern women in this country to know that they, too, can enter the white-male-dominated field of Venture Capital and that we actually need more women like them in this field so that more Middle Eastern women entrepreneurs get Venture Capital funds. In a time and place where humans rely on connections and the power of networks, we need to amplify the work that organizations like Global Cleveland are setting to do by creating a strong network of generations of international women who have, can, and will move mountains with the help, guidance, and support of one another.