Watch video testimonials from esteemed education and community leaders as they honor Muna and Basem Hishmeh, recipients of the 2019 ACCESS 48th Arab Americans of The Year Award. Read more about the annual ACCESS event and this year’s theme From the Neighborhood to the Nation.
Every year since it's inception, ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) presents the prestigious Arab American of the Year award to distinguished international advocates and philanthropists. This year the organization honored Basem and Muna Hishmeh at its 48th Annual Dinner on Thursday, March 28, 2019.
"Basem and Muna’s extraordinary commitment to numerous worthy causes has helped them uplift the voices of countless individuals and communities in various parts of the world. Their unwavering support of various impactful causes embodies the spirit of compassion that is at the heart of ACCESS’ efforts to empower our communities."
Watch ACCESS’s video to learn more about the Hishmeh’s unwavering commitment and support of initiatives that promote the cultural and artistic expression of American and Palestinian youth.
Distinguished international advocates and philanthropists, Basem and Muna Hishmeh, learned the value of giving early in life. Both Palestinian refugees who came to the United States with their families as teens in the 1950s, the generosity and compassion of their sponsors indelibly paved their path towards a lifetime of community empowerment.
Basem earned his engineering degree from Case Institute of Technology and MBA from the prestigious Case Western Reserve University, propelling him into an impressive and extremely successful international engineering and business career.
After decades of rewarding career ventures, Muna and Basem chose to reciprocate the empathy and humanity they were graced with as refugee youth. In 2007, they founded The Muna and Basem Hishmeh Foundation to provide educational and cultural arts opportunities to under-served youth in the United States and Palestine. Muna guided the foundation’s vision in the language that empowered her the most as a child, the language of art.
The foundation’s many beneficiaries include inspiring youth programs at Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, National Dance Institute, Arab American National Museum (AANM), Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) and New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company. In Palestine, the foundation supports extraordinary arts and music programs at First Ramallah Group Dance School, Edward Said Conservatory of Music, Al Kamandjati and Rawdat El Zuhur in Jerusalem. Additionally, the Hishmehs extend their generous support to ensure there are safe spaces for children to play at Al Bayyara playgrounds and provide critical support to medical organizations including The Cleft Society, The Dialysis Center and The Diabetes Center which has changed the lives of countless residents.
Muna and Basem reside in both New Jersey and Florida and have two children and six grandchildren that assist them with the foundation’s operations.
The Very Young Composers of the New York Philharmonic, already building a worldwide presence, has made what might become yet another major step toward its goal of enabling children everywhere to express their rich and complex musical thoughts through the equally rich resources of the Symphony Orchestra and concert music of whatever idiom; whether Western, Oriental, Latino, African, Hip-Hop or anything beyond.
The first visit with Jon Deak, Artistic Director, VYC, and Molly Herron, VYC Teaching Artist ran from September through October 2017 and was sponsored by Basem and Muna Hishmeh. This detailed report covers the program's mission, reach and initiatives, including an in-depth timeline with places, meetings, photos and musical examples.
To read more, download the full report in PDF format here.