Refugee Advocate

Maytham Alshadood | Refugee Advocate

Maytham Alshadood is an organizer, activist, and commissioner on the Denver Refugee & Immigrant Commission. Originally from in Baghdad, Iraq, Maytham joined the U.S. Military as a Combat Interpreter in 2005. In 2008, he moved to the U.S. and settled in Denver. He graduated with honors from the University of Colorado College of Nursing, Anschutz Medical Campus, and works as a Transplant Nurse. He founded DRIVE Project, which empowers refugees and immigrants to become their own advocates through civic engagement. He is a self-taught fly-fisherman.

“Immigrant Voices Make Democracy Stronger” by Sayu Bhojwani. This was the talk that encouraged me to do more than canvassing for candidates during presidential year elections. I ended up applying for Sayu’s New American Leaders Program and attending the training in Michigan and in D.C. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

What sparks your curiosity?

I am always curious to find answers to the “Why” questions. It is easy to judge and act bewildered when confronted with something new that we are not familiar with, such as someone’s actions or behaviors, but it’s really worth while to learn the reason behind those actions or behaviors. Only then we can truly understand each other without having to resort to snap judgments that lead us nowhere.

What was the biggest change or turning point in your life, and why? Tell us a story!

The biggest change in my life was when I made the somewhat involuntary shift from being a student at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Mosul, Iraq, to being a Combat Interpreter with the U.S. Military in Iraq. That’s when I started my journey of almost always trying to make the best choice from a basket of terrible options, while having to navigate the cultural in-betweens of my own reality as an Iraqi American. Leaving home is not an easy choice to make, but I always tried to make it work.

Hobbies | Passions | Fun Facts

I taught myself how to swim on base at camp Taji, just north of Baghdad, and also taught myself how to fly fish in Colorado. But I enjoy fly fishing more, mainly because I’m still a terrible swimmer 🙂