CAAP extends a warm welcome to our newest board member: Peter Farah. Peter is currently the Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, and Assistant Secretary of The J. M. Smucker Company, where he has primary responsibility within the Legal Department for mergers and acquisitions, securities, finance, and corporate governance. He received his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 2001, and is a first generation Arab American. CAAP recently spoke with Peter to learn more about his giving inspirations and aspirations.
CAAP: Can you give us an example of the kind of causes in which you invest? Why does this cause matter to you? Why now in particular?
Peter Farah: I typically contribute to organizations that are fighting for human rights or social justice or that are providing humanitarian relief. I try to focus on giving to organizations that are working towards making long-term, sustainable improvements to communities.
CAAP: If you could change the world, what would you do?
PF: As a father of young children, it breaks my heart when I see children who are suffering. If I could change the world, I would make sure that every child has a safe and happy home. Society is much better off when children are happy, do not long for basic human necessities, and are taught compassion and kindness at an early age.
CAAP: Do you identify as Arab American? Does this influence your giving?
PF: I certainly identify as Arab American. My parents immigrated to the United States from Palestine shortly before I was born, so the Arab American community was, and continues to be, an essential part of my identity and community. The vast majority of our family was back in Jerusalem, so the friends that we made from Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan became our extended family in the Cleveland area. My background has significantly impacted my giving, as I tend to focus on contributing to organizations that are working to improve Arab communities in the United States and throughout the Middle East.
CAAP: What has been your best giving experience?
PF: My best giving experience was actually giving my time. For a number of years, I was involved with the Chicago Palestine Film Festival. I found that film was an amazing medium to reach broad and diverse audiences to share the experiences and struggles of Palestinians and Palestinian Americans. I also got the opportunity to work with some amazing people on the Chicago Palestine Film Festival organizing committee, as well as various Arab-American organizations throughout the Chicago area and other film festivals throughout the World.
CAAP: Do you think of yourself as a philanthropist? What does “philanthropy” mean to you?
PF: I have never really considered myself a philanthropist. I believe that I have been very fortunate with all of the opportunities that I have been given, and I try to give back to those who are less fortunate as much as I can.
CAAP: If you could volunteer full time – what would you do?
PF: If I could volunteer full time, I would be in the West Bank or Gaza working to improve Palestinian society.
CAAP: Do you have any philanthropy advice for others, including the next generation?
PF: My best advice would be to get involved as early as you can. Even if you are in school or early in your career and do not have any money, you can always contribute your time and skills to worthwhile causes. It is the most rewarding thing that you can do.
Thanks to Peter for your time – we look forward to having your expertise and insight as part of the CAAP team!Meet our Advisory Board