SAT. JAN 2, 5PM | Peace Café
At 5:00 pm in the Atlas Performing Arts Center - Following the 3:00 PM performance - Join us for a Free Peace Café with Andy "Anas" Shallal, Mosaic Theater Company board member and our newly appointed chair of DC's Workforce Investment Council, as keynote.
Saturday January 2, 2016 @ 5:00 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center following the 3 pm performance of Mosaic Theater Company's powerful production of Marcus Gardley's THE GOSPEL OF LOVING KINDNESS.
The subject of this month's Peace Cafe: "Unemployment, Underemployment and the Challenge for Thousands of Gainful Opportunity in Our City." Andy Shallal, chair of DC's Workforce Investment Council and Co-founder of the Peace Cafe (along with fellow Mosaic board member Mimi Conway and Mosaic's Founding Artistic Director Ari Roth) will kick off an in-depth conversation about some of the root causes at the heart of the un- and underemployment tragedy at the heart of THE GOSPEL OF LOVINGKINDNESS, and in our city as well.
Echoing the question that launched our Peace Cafe 15 years ago: "What is the way forward?," we address the crisis of opportunity and employment for young people in our city.
Anas "Andy" Shallal (Arabic: أنس شلال) (born March 21, 1955 in Baghdad, Iraq) is an Iraqi-American artist, activist and entrepreneur. He is best known as the proprietor of the Washington, DC area restaurant, bookstore, performance venue Busboys and Poets and local philanthropist. A founding board member of Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Shallal has received numerous awards including the Mayor’s Arts Award, the Mayor’s Environmental Award, United Nations Human Rights Community Award, as well as leadership awards in employment and sustainable business practices. He was also named Man of the Year by the Washington Peace Center.
He was named "Democracy's Restaurateur" by Ralph Nader in a Washington Post article by David Montgomery. Shallal has founded or co-founded several peace movement organizations and holds leadership positions in numerous others. Among them are Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives, created prior to the 2003 invasion, and The Peace Cafe, co-founded with Mosaic board member, Mimi Conway, and Mosaic Founding Artistic Director, Ari Roth, which seeks to promote Arab-Jewish dialogue. At 800 members it is the largest such group in the Washington, DC area. Shallal is a Peace Fellow with Seeds of Peace, spokesperson for Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) and at one point was chair of the board of trustees for Abraham's Vision, a conflict transformation organization working with Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, and Israelis. Shallal is a recipient of the United Nations Human Rights Community Award and has been named Man of the Year by the Washington Peace Center.
He is a Foreign Policy In Focus analyst for the Institute for Policy Studies and current board member serving as Treasurer. In 2010, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington gave an award to Shallal for his support of the local arts community. On October 12, 2010, Shallal was awarded the Champions of Democracy Award by DCVote for his activism in support of voting rights for the people of the District of Columbia. Shallal is a member of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) which works to help improve wages and working conditions for restaurant workers.
On December 14, Shallal was appointed by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser to chair the Workforce Investment Council.
"D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser named restaurateur Andy Shallal, a former mayoral-race rival, to chair a key city workforce council Monday, belatedly filling a post as demanded by the U.S. Department of Labor and other critics of the city’s poor performance in providing job training for the unemployed.
Shallal, best known as owner of the Busboys and Poets restaurants, will chair the Workforce Investment Council. The body, led by the private sector, has responsibility under U.S. law to help oversee the city’s use of federal job training money.
The chairmanship has been open since spring, and the Labor Department has demanded that the vacancy be filled as one condition for dropping its formal designation of the city as being a “high-risk” partner in job training and employment programs.
The District is the only jurisdiction in the nation to have that status, which puts the city under increased federal oversight and at risk of suffering a slowdown in federal grants totaling $24 million a year for job training.
“We need a dynamic and creative leader to chair this important body, and Andy is that leader,” said Bowser, who announced her choice at a regular council meeting.
The mayor said she wants to satisfy the Labor Department’s other criteria so that the District loses its “high-risk” status. Among other things, the city needs to address serious shortcomings in its youth employment programs, improve management of unemployment insurance and fill the long-vacant post of permanent executive director of the Workforce Investment Council.
“One of the first things that I wanted to do, and not just at [the Department of Employment Services] but all of our agencies where the federal government is involved somehow, I want to get off their list,” Bowser said.
In initial remarks as chairman, Shallal also emphasized the need “to regain the confidence” of the Labor Department.
“It’s quite disturbing to see federal funds go unused while the most vulnerable citizens are left languishing, unable to complete their GED [high-school equivalency] training or improve their work-readiness skills,” Shallal said.
Workforce Investment Council members and analysts generally praised the choice of Shallal, saying his prominence in city business and political circles will bring valuable attention to the city’s workforce challenges.
Shallal drew attention for his outspoken criticism of economic inequality in the District when he was one of a large crowd of contenders for the Democratic mayoralty nomination in 2014.
“What’s most important is that the person she selected is very passionate about the work,” said Thomas M. Penny, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center, who has been on the workforce council for five years.
“There are bureaucratic barriers in governments everywhere. You need someone who’s so passionate that they’re willing to move that stuff out of the way,” Penny said.
D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large), who also sits on the Workforce Investment Council, called Shallal “a good choice” but expressed frustration that it took so long to pick him.
“It’s frustrating for [training] providers out there that want to do the work.”
Bowser said one of her goals was to shift both city and federal resources to on-the-job training programs.
“I don’t think we have the right model,” Bowser said. “I want to see D.C. residents in jobs and being trained on the job.”
She declined to predict how long it would take the District to shed its “high-risk” status with Labor, which it has had since 2012.
“The District has been on the list for many years,” the mayor said. “I’ve been mayor for 11 months.”