H.A.S. is proud to feature a profile on Board President, Adnan Assad. Adnan has been a supporter of H.A.S. for more than six years, serving as board president for the past four years. His support has helped H.A.S. flourish, giving our organization a strong foundation for continued success. We are grateful to Adnan for his committed leadership and the many, many ways he gives back.
As H.A.S. Board President Adnan Assad sat by the window of a Greek-town coffee shop, he was greeted by many passerby who obviously knew him from around the neighborhood. He smiled warmly as he said hello to each, and then returned to our conversation. Adnan has a kind way about him, unsurprising for an individual with his philanthropic spirit and generosity.
A banker by trade, Adnan is a senior vice president in the commercial banking space, at First Midwest Bank. He supports small- and mid-size companies, helping them grow. Again, unsurprising for an individual who has supported Healthcare Alternative Systems (H.A.S.) in its mission of growing and reaching more underserved populations.
Currently living in the suburb of Orland Park with his family, he grew up in Chicago, attended Lane Tech for high school, then went on to University of Illinois, Chicago. When asked why he chooses to support H.A.S. and numerous other organizations, his response was simple: “I feel like I owe it to the city of Chicago and its people. When I came to the United States from Palestine in 1985, I didn’t speak a lick of English. The people of Chicago rallied around me and my family, the city gave me opportunities to success, and it’s my turn to do what I can to give back and help the community.”
So how did Adnan get involved with H.A.S. in the first place? Several years ago, he worked with a colleague who was the H.A.S. Board President. He met H.A.S. CEO Marco Jacome a few times, and Adnan’s colleague eventually asked him to get involved in H.A.S.’ annual golf outing. “Marco was very persuasive!” says Adnan. “He asked me to be on the golf outing planning committee for a year, then he asked me to chair the committee, then eventually he asked me to be on the Board, and now here I am.”
Adnan has been H.A.S. Board President for about four years.
Although he didn’t initially know much about behavioral health, once he became involved with H.A.S., he realized the criticality of treating substance use disorders and mental illness. He quickly understood the need within the community, and H.A.S.’ role in providing treatment. “At the golf outing, I would see individuals come up and tell their stories; these are real people with real issues. And that made me want to become more involved and help expand the organization to get more supporters and raise awareness about this cause and about H.A.S.”
Once he stepped into the role of Board President, Adnan felt an immediate responsibility to the organization to raise awareness about all the organization has done and continues to do. “It was both a challenge and a passion,” he says. One of Adnan’s first goals as Board President was to expand and diversify the Board. He wanted to tap into the different skills and industries and bring in people from varying backgrounds who could leverage their own networks to grow H.A.S.’ network.
While Adnan achieved that specific goal, and many others, he still has even more he hopes to accomplish: “I want to see H.A.S. grow by getting more individual donors, raising awareness about all the programs and services the organization offers, and inspiring others to get involved in some way, whether it be through fundraising or volunteering,” he says. His collaboration with other Board members and the H.A.S. Executive Team drives this work and continues to move H.A.S. forward.
When asked about some of his most memorable moments as H.A.S. Board President, Adnan recalls the powerful instances where people tell their stories; the lasting impressions from meeting the people who have struggled–are still struggling–with improving their mental health and wellness. “It’s amazing how a man can come up and tell his story to over 100 people. There was a gentleman who had lost his family and kids, but he was on his way to recovery,” Adnan says. “It makes you realize how fragile people are, and that it could happen to any one of us.”
Every October, H.A.S. holds an alumni event and dinner where former participants can reconnect with their fellow program participants and feel proud of the steps they have taken toward recovery. This event also sticks out in Adnan’s mind as one of the most compelling reminders of why he–and H.A.S.–do what they do. “You see people who are just so happy about where they are in life now, and so happy for one another; these are individuals who have worked for sobriety and getting their lives back on track. It really hits home then: we’re doing a great job. Every person involved in this organization has made a difference in someone’s life.”