ACCESS 2019 Arab Americans Of The Year Awardees

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.