6 Arab American Women in Politics You Should Know About

BLFF Team | Apr 20, 2023


April is National Arab American Heritage Month! The 2022 midterm elections saw a new wave of Arab American women politicians elected to office. In honor of National Arab American Heritage Month, Gender on the Ballot is highlighting 6 Arab American women leaders you should know about. 


Stephanie Bice 

Stephanie Bice is currently serving as a U.S. Representative from Oklahoma’s 5th district. Bice was elected to this position in 2021. Prior to her serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Bice was a member of the Oklahoma state senate representing the 22nd district, later serving as Assistant Majority Floor Leader for the Oklahoma state senate from 2017 to December 2020. Bice is the first Iranian American elected to be elected to Congress. 


Pat Danner

Pat Danner represented Missouri’s 6th Congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. Danner first ran for Congress in 1976 when a seat was vacated by Congressman Jerry Litton but was defeated in the Democratic primary that year. Danner worked as a district administrator for Congressman Litton. Danner was elected to the Missouri state senate in 1982 and was subsequently reelected in 1986 and 1990. In 1992, Danner ran for Congress and defeated the incumbent, later being reelected to the House of Representatives three times– 1994, 1996, and 1998. Danner’s maternal grandparents emigrated from Lebanon in the early 1900s. 


Gwen Graham

Graham served as the U.S. representative from Florida’s 2nd congressional district from 2015 to 2017. Prior to her career in elected office, Graham worked for a law firm in Washington, D.C., her father’s presidential campaign in 2003, Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, and ultimately John Kerry’s campaign efforts— specifically focused on Florida. While in office, Graham advocated for congressional reform, immigration reform, and the Affordable Care Act. Now, Graham is the assistant secretary of education for legislation and congressional affairs in the Biden administration. She is of Lebanese descent from her maternal grandfather. 


Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell served as a U.S. representative for Florida’s 26th congressional district from 2019 to 2021. Mucarsel-Powell was the first Ecuadorian American and South American-born immigrant to serve as a member of the U.S. House and the U.S. Congress. In 2020, Mucarsel-Powell was defeated in her 2020 re-election bid by the former Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez. Post politics, Mucarsel-Powell started working for Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, an American advocacy and research organization focused on promoting gun control, with the goal of lobbying the U.S. Senate to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021. Mucarsel-Powell is of Lebanese descent. 


Mary Rose Oakar

Mary Rose Oakar was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio, serving in the position from 1977 to 1993. Oakar was the first Democratic woman from Ohio elected to the United States House of Representatives. Oakar served as the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus from 1985 to 1989. While in office, Oakar was a high-ranking member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, and the House Administration Committee. Oakar later ran for Mayor of Cleveland in 2001, and then served in Ohio’s House of Representatives from the 13th District from 2001 to 2002. Oakar is the first woman of Arab-American (Syrian and Lebanese) ancestry to serve in Congress. 


Rashida Tlaib

Rashida Tlaib currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 12th Congressional District and was formerly a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from January 2009 to December 2014. Some of Tlaib’s stances include abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, supporting Medicare for All, and increasing the federal minimum wage to between $18 and $20. Tlaib is the first woman of Palestinian descent elected to Congress, the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature, and one of the first two Muslim women who are mothers elected to Congress. Tlaib is also one of the first female members of the Democratic Socialists of America to serve in Congress. 

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