The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.

Today’s Q&A feature is Abdullah Hammoud, Michigan State Representative for the 15th District, which includes the City of Dearborn. In 2016, At the age of 26, he became one of the youngest and first Muslim to represent the 15th District. Hammoud sits on the Health Policy, Insurance, and Michigan Competitiveness committees. Abdullah has been unwavering in his commitment to Michigan and Dearborn for more than a decade. From volunteering at community cleanups with organizations like ACCESS to advocating to raise awareness for mental health conditions with the SAFE Substance Abuse Coalition, Abdullah has consistently given back to the community that fostered his growth and success. Hammoud earned his bachelor’s in science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and his master’s in public health from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. After working for three years as a health care consultant at the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, he felt a profound need to utilize his skills and knowledge to serve as a volunteer with the United Nations Relief and Work Agency in Jordan. During his months there, he led a successful initiative to reduce obesity among diabetic refugees throughout the Middle East.

In 2014, Hammoud was nominated and elected as the youngest board member for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. For more than two years, he was on the forefront fighting to protect Michigan’s land, air and water by educating legislators and communities on the need for environmentally conscious policy. Recently, Hammoud returned to the University of Michigan in pursuit of a master’s in business administration at the Ross School of Business. Expanding his business acumen will help him craft economic policy to address the issue of income inequality, and to better support the hardworking middle class. In his spare time, he enjoys competing in obstacle courses, spending time with friends and family, and engaging in dialogue that fosters social benefit and growth.

We caught up with Abdullah to find out what leadership means to him and what advice he would give to future leaders.

Why did you choose this career path?

Policy is a lever for change. Yet, when I looked around, no-one with a name like mine, who looked like
me, or really represented our community’s values, had a finger on that lever. Rather than sit on the
sidelines, we decided to get organized and get mobilized. I now have the distinct honor of working to
better the Dearborn community, the only place I’ve ever called home.

Who inspired you to get involved?

My older brother, Ali, passed away at the young age of 27. Following his passing, I questioned my
purpose. Public service stood out because Ali was my greatest advocate and I realized that I can pay
homage to him by being an advocate for my community in the same manner. Public servants should be
nothing more than extensions of family, and that’s how I treat my job. I wake up each day, fighting to
create better opportunities for my Dearborn family.

How do you define a leader?

Personally, I do not associate ‘leader’ with any position of power or influence. A leader is someone who
organizes a community around a vision and motivates those who often are not involved to get involved.
A leader is someone who rolls up their sleeves and gets to work, with no thought of receiving credit or
tribute for that work. Someone who can lead the front lines, but also humble enough to be mobilizing
efforts in the back. Everyone has it in them to be a leader, and often the greatest of leaders are those
with no titles.

What projects are you currently involved with in the community that engages the next generation of leaders?

My campaign is run by young people. In my experience, when you find individuals who are eager to
learn and have a good head on their shoulder, give them an opportunity to take on responsibility and
you won’t be disappointed. In addition to having a campaign run by young folk, I also provide legislative internships in my office to anyone who is willing. We’ve had students still in high school all the way to those pursuing their PhD’s – we don’t turn anyone away.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?

Never sit on the sideline waiting for an invitation to get involved. Find that thing you are passionate
about and just get involved. Quit asking what it means to be a leader and how you can become one
someday. Just get out there and be the best version of yourself. Always stay humble and never forget
those who helped cultivate your success.