CAAP recently had the chance to speak with Nadine Makki, the Operations Manager at the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, an organization whose mission is to work with communities and their leaders to produce and preserve quality affordable housing. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to incredible innovation and unprecedented job growth, making it consequently one of the most expensive housing markets in the world. Vulnerable communities (low-income, veterans, the disabled, and communities of color) are at a significant disadvantage to be displaced. The Housing Leadership Council helps bring together elected officials, community activists, and both nonprofit and business leaders together to try and develop innovative solutions to the housing crisis that the area is currently facing.
Nadine previously worked at ACCESS, where she was working directly on programs that place marginally-housed and homeless families into more permanent, stable housing. Her current work is more related to passing policies that ensure that those types of programs continue.
CAAP: Can you give us an example of the kind of work/causes you support? What do you look for when you make giving decisions?
Nadine Makki: I tend to support causes that work to empower historically disadvantaged communities, since I believe that organizing and allocating resources to these communities is the best way to lift them up and ensure that their voices are heard. I tend to give to causes that support women, especially women of color or survivors of domestic violence, and youth groups. I believe that housing and education are human rights, so I have mainly focused my work around those issues.
CAAP: What/Who are your giving inspirations? Family? Friends?
NM: My family inspires my giving. They practice giving as a tenet of their faith, and I find it important to follow that example.
CAAP: What does the word “philanthropist” mean to you? Do you think of yourself as a philanthropist?
NM: I used to think of philanthropy solely in terms of monetary giving. I’ve since started to believe that a philanthropist is someone who gives whatever they can, whether it be money or time, to help advance the causes that make the world a more equitable place. In this sense, I believe I’m a philanthropist.
CAAP: What do you see as your biggest achievement in your giving history?
NM: I’d like to think of my consistency in giving as an achievement. I feel very proud of the issues that I’ve helped advance through my work, monetary giving, and volunteerism. While it is certainly never too late to become involved, I feel proud of the fact that I’ve managed to work on causes that I care about even when they exist only in the periphery of the general public.
CAAP: Do you identify as Arab American? Does this influence your giving?
NM: I do, and it has influenced my giving in more ways than I could have imagined! As a largely collective community, I think “giving” manifests itself in many different ways for Arab Americans. Giving doesn’t necessarily have to be organized. I give because I know that I am part of a larger whole, and this stems from my experience as a member of the Arab American community.
CAAP: Do you have any advice for other Arab Americans new to philanthropy and giving?
NM: Think about what you are most passionate about, and start there. That is how you will remain the most consistent and make the most impact. And give whatever you can! Time, money, and skills are all great ways to give, and they all help advance the greater good.
Thanks to Nadine for her great insight and for all the awesome good she does in the world! To meet more Arab Americans Who Care, click here.