The first time I heard Nureed Saeed speak was at the SOMA Action rally for declaring South Orange a sanctuary town, where she spoke about her experience as a first generation Muslim American. I was uplifted by her eloquent words and her courage for speaking out at a time when most immigrants and people of color were still trying to figure out what their public stance should be in the face of the various travel bans and other executive orders.

I happened to meet Nureed by chance. SOMA Masala, a Facebook based group of South Asians in SOMA had planned their first face to face meeting at a local restaurant on a day that turned out to be “Day without Immigrants.” In solidarity with the immigrant action, the group decided not to go to a restaurant. However, we also knew that organizing another date for a large group would be difficult. As group members grappled with the dilemma, Nureed stepped in and offered her home for the meeting. This was the first time that group members and I met Nureed and it is a testament to her openness and generosity, even to strangers.

When I heard that Nureed was running for South Orange Board of Trustees, I met with her to hear her thoughts about our town’s future. As a long-time resident of South Orange and a former member of the Planning Board, I was curious to hear why a three-year resident would run for office. Nureed’s thoughtful responses to my questions about downtown development, taxes, schools and the town gown relationship were very impressive. She does not shy away from asking or answering difficult questions and listening to varied opinions. I found her perspective on issues such as retail development, creating a range of housing options for all residents and PILOTs to be innovative and refreshing. I especially appreciate her ideas for engaging the community in building an identity for our town and using it to drive a short term vision and implementation strategy for our downtown. I believe that Nureed Saeed’s fresh ideas, unique perspective as an entrepreneur, a woman of color and an activist, and her inclusiveness make her perfectly suited for the position of member of Board of Trustees of South Orange, and I am honored to endorse her.