Lian Ryan-Hume (Najami), Israel’s first Arab Rhodes Scholar, grew up in a liberal Muslim family, attended a Christian high school, and volunteered in a reform Jewish community center. From the age of 12, she began volunteering at her local community center in Haifa, working tirelessly to promote the issue of shared existence™. By the time she turned 15, Lian had founded her first start-up initiative and has been passionate about social entrepreneurship ever since. Back in Haifa, Lian has established two social startups promoting employment and financial literacy among Arab women. Also, she is the youngest executive board member of Mabat — an NGO working to promote intellectual diversity on Israeli campuses.
Lian’s advocacy work, which has taken her around the world on several speaking tours, comes with a simple message — that together, as a society, we can achieve true shared existence when placing merit above discrimination and working together to create a more inclusive Israel. As a non-Jew growing up in a Jewish state, Lian seeks to send a message to the international community that Israel is more than its Jewish identity and that its multicultural character should be celebrated.
Lian is determined and passionate about empowering Arab women to achieve economic independence, raising awareness to issues pertinent to minorities, and acting as an advocate for those with invisible illnesses and different abilities. Fluent in five languages, she was featured at the 2016 Forbes 30 under 30 summit in Israel for her leadership role within the Arab community and served in the US Senate as a Lantos Fellow in 2017. As the first Arab-Israeli Rhodes Scholar, Lian is currently reading for her MSc in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford, and will begin her MPP at the Blavatnik School of Government in September, 2020.
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Lian is an inspirational speaker. Her ability to connect with her audience as a group and individually has a profound impact on those with whom she interfaces. She has the ability to expose her target groups to facts embedded in personal and thoughtful narrative. She is able to address controversial topics with empathy and conviction. Her message of empowerment and avoiding self-imposed “victim” status is powerful and her delivery is exceptional when she speaks to groups large and small. She is adept at speaking to groups from diverse backgrounds. She makes each person feel as if she is speaking directly to them. She is warm and engaging. She is frequently asked to return to the same venues as she is a highly sought after speaker”
- Cheryl Aronson
VP Israel and Overseas, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston