Debbie Almontaser


Dr. Debbie Almontaser is a community activist, advocate, entrepreneur, and educator who works across sectors in New York City. Among her numerous roles, Almontaser is the founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the CEO of the Building Cultures Group Inc, founding board member of the Muslim Community Network and the Yemeni American Merchants Association, and is on the board of Micah Institute. Dr. Almontaser is an advisor on cultural and religious diversity issues for Public Advocate Tish James, Borough President Eric Adams, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the NYC Commission for Human Rights, and New York City Council members. She is also a member of the NYC Department of Education Diversity Advisory Board. “What keeps me in New York? I don't know, there is something about New York that is like a magnet for me. I grew up in Buffalo, New York, and came here in 1980, and I’ve never left. I can’t imagine myself living anywhere. Every now and then I get homesick and visit my family, but I get homesick for New York right away. The thing that I love about it is public transportation [that] is very accessible, especially when it is running smoothly. I was just on a train ride, and there was a very interesting book conversation; I just had to ask these two people who were talking about a book, two complete strangers talking about the book, ‘Alright, before you two leave, I need to know the name of the book because this is far better than any New York Times’ book review!’”