Board of Directors

Board of Directors of the Arab Center of Washington

The board is composed of a president, one treasurer, one secretary and directors at large. If you are interested in becoming a board member please fill out our ACW Board Member Form and submit to

2013-2015 Board Members

Huda Giddens, President

Huda was born in Cairo, Egypt, to Palestinian parents, and spent her early years in Cairo, sometime in Jerusalem, and some in Lebanon, where she earned a B.A. degree from the Beirut College for Women.  She came to the USA in 1959 to Iowa State University where I received a Master’s degree in Child Development and Early Childhood Education (ECE).  Shortly after graduation she married and joined her husband in Okinawa, Japan, where she taught undergraduate courses at the University of Maryland’s Far East Division, and also taught English to Okinawans, subsequently becoming the President of the American Volunteer Teachers’ Association.

Upon returning to the USA, they settled in Michigan at MSU, Lansing, where her son Bryce was born.  In 1968, Huda moved to Seattle where, after much deliberation, she decided to start a school, with a distinctly strong foundation in sound learning principles, implemented by child-appropriate teaching techniques.  Now named the Giddens School, Huda taught in and directed the School for 14 years, which accepts all children from preschool age to the fifth grade.

In 1986 Huda accepted an invitation to be an Arabic-speaking Early Childhood Consultant and Teacher Trainer to the Quaker Kindergarten Program in Gaza.  Upon finishing her work with the Quaker program, she joined OXFAM as the ECE Specialist, with an assignment to develop an extensive ECE Project to include teacher training, parent education and the establishment of preschools in Bedouin communities in southern Israel (the Negev).  During this time she was also the Curriculum Advisor at Bethlehem University, assigned to upgrade their ECE program from a 2-year to a 4-year curriculum, and to teach some of the upper level courses.  Huda returned to Seattle in the fall of 1998 to teach Arabic and familiarize the Seattle public with Arab culture.  She taught at Seattle University, Fort Lewis, and Lowell Elementary School, in addition to tutoring individual students.


Sam Alkhalili, Treasurer
Although his name is Oussama, he is also known as Sam. Sam and family moved from California in 2005; since then he has continued to be involved and volunteer in the Arab and other communities. Sam and his wife  have been married for more than 20 years and are blessed to have two wonderful teenagers, Bassam and Zayna.

Sam has been working in higher education for over 20 years in different capacities: an administrator for 15 years and professor for 13 years. Sam enjoys information and system technology, such as developing and designing databases and websites, where he takes joy in teaching at a local community college.  Sam currently serves as the President for the Arab Alliance Chamber Commerce of Washington State and as a treasurer for the Islamic Center of Kent.


Su Nelson, Secretary
When asked where she is from, Su usually responds “I was raised in Alaska.”  However, many who know her suggest she must be at least a little bit Arab.  Arab music infused itself into her soul when she was in high school, along with a love for the many dances styles from the Arab world.  She studied Arabic language for a year before moving to Seattle in 1994.  She has a Master’s Degree in Education from Seattle University and an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from the University of Portland.

Su first became involved with the Seattle Arab community while in grad school and has performed as part of Shahrazad Dance Ensemble at all 8 biennial Arab Festivals held at Seattle Center.  In 1999 she helped check in performers and her role with the festival has grown ever since.  Su served on the Board of Directors from 2007-2010 and was reappointed in 2013.  Su recently concluded her role as Festival Coordinator for Arab Festiva; Naseej.


Mary Toutonghi
Born and raised here in Seattle, Mary is the oldest of six siblings.  Her father and his seven siblings came here from Egypt when he was a teenager.  Her grandparents are Lebanese and Syrian. Mary grew up with a large, extended Arab family in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and has “always had a passion for food.”  That passion led her to restaurant work for many years and owning her own neighborhood natural foods store and deli.  Mary also loves working with young people and has a degree in education. She helped start an alternative Montessori public school with her sister-in-law. Mary is now in graduate school in the International Studies Department at the University of Washington, with the Middle East as her regional focus.  She is studying Arabic language and Middle Eastern history and culture, with an emphasis on Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. She states that “Arab immigrants have a long history of enriching our American culture and I am greatly honored to be a part of the Arab Center of Washington. I look forward to using my creativity and energy to learn and contribute!”

Hala Karaki

I’ve been in Washington for a little less than a year now and I love it! I came all the way from Beirut, first to California and then here. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I’ve been blessed with a great network of friends, a charming city, and breathtaking nature. It’s starting to feel so quickly, like a second home!

As part of ACW I feel I can give back to this community, I love planning social events, activities, and getting people togather! I look forward for an exciting year ahead of us, getting the community connected and everyone involved, and exposing the beauty of the Arab cultures!


Hiba Yamani

Hiba doesn’t like to answer the question “where are you from?” – she’d much rather answer “where are you now and what are you up to there?”

Ever since she was a kid living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, she liked to help organize social events.  At 14, she dressed up as Santa for her neighbor’s kids, put up a magic show for her little sister’s birthday party, and helped organize a huge Eid party for kids in the compound where she lived.  This trend hasn’t changed much as she grew up and moved from one place to another.

Shortly after her family moved to Montreal, Canada, she found herself organizing a prom and fundraising for the yearbook at her new high school.  While studying software engineering at McGill University, she organized lots of different events including fundraisers, Halloween/Christmas parties, Ramadan iftars, Eid celebrations and end-of-year banquets. In 2011, she became an active member of the Arab Development Initiative and helped organize the 2012 Envision Arabia Summit which took place in New York.

Hiba is relatively new to Washington; she moved to Seattle in late 2012 to join Microsoft.  Shortly after she arrived, she heard about the Arab Festival and signed herself up to help.


Tasha Duberstein

Born in a suburb of Boston, Tasha is the only child of a Lebanese mother and a Jewish father. She was raised in a tight-knit Lebanese family, where she developed a passion for Arabic culture, history, and her grandmother’s kibbeh. In 2005, Tasha received her B.A. in Political Science and International Relations with a Middle East concentration, and she is currently applying to Middle East Studies graduate programs. Tasha moved to Seattle in 2010, and became involved with the Arab Center of Washington in 2012 through the biennial Arab Festival. She is deeply honored to be a member of the Board of Directors, and looks forward to establishing strong relationships within the community.


Walid Magd

Coming Soon


Board of Directors Contact Information:

President Huda Giddens:

Treasurer Sam Alkhalili:

Secretary Su Nelson:

Mary Toutonghi:

Hala Karaki:

Hiba Yamani:

Tasha Duberstein:

Walid Magd: