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Meet Juweria Dahir: A woman on a mission to change the barrier between culture and the professional world

Somalian born and a native of the United Kingdom, Juweria Dahir moved to Buffalo three years ago when she transferred to University at Buffalo from the University in England. She knew no one but her husband, and she now sits in on meetings with other successful individuals who care about our great city.

Somalian born and a native of the United Kingdom, Juweria Dahir moved to Buffalo three years ago when she transferred to University at Buffalo from the University in England. She knew no one but her husband, and she now sits in on meetings with other successful individuals who care about our great city.

While the University at Buffalo strives to help students make the most of better educational access and opportunities, Dahir saw the real world as slightly different. Moving to Buffalo from England, she noticed a massive gap between the social class systems here in Buffalo, where one neighborhood is well maintained and the next can look like a scene from a horror movie. That particular observation was the reason that sparked her interest in Urban and Regional Planning.

“My interest for the Masters in Urban Planning and my role in the the Mayor’s office stems from my experiences in the area that I work and study. From my international perspective, I have lived in diverse countries such as Somalia, Switzerland, and England, which has allowed me to reflect upon extrinsic languages, lifestyles and cultures.”

Although a dedication to the City of Buffalo and her MA candidacy at UB keeps her extremely busy in the professional world, another goal of Dahir’s is to see that more individuals of cultural backgrounds take the initiative to make a difference in their community as well. Although she wears a headdress and has a unique name, she wants others to look at her as if she were any other woman on a mission to make a positive impact in the world.


It’s difficult enough being a woman in the professional world. We often make less than our male counterparts. We have to prove our self worth and show that we are just as capable, if not more capable of doing a “man’s” job. But while this is an obstacle in itself, imagine having a unique cultural background on top of that.

“Sometimes it can be overwhelming. You don’t always want to be the black sheep in the room. You want to be the other person that’s also there. I want people to see me for the professional that I am and not for the headdress that I wear.”

For Dahir, it’s a mission she’s doing her best to make a difference in.

The young professional makes sure to visit places in Buffalo that she feels aren’t very culturally populated so that others in her culture or other cultures may feel more comfortable partaking in the sites and activities the area has to offer.

“While the complexity of my different layers of the cultural, ethical, and faith based values of me is seen the focus of who I am, I really think it is minor compared to the more visible aspect of being different in my area of work. And so for that reason, I want to bring confidence to others that are not represented in in the public space as much. For me, public space is interpreted as an opportunity to contribute to sustainability and community cohesion, so it is super important for me that I am seen in public spaces as an indication of not being excluded.”

Dahir’s commitment to the Buffalo community was quickly noticed.

In 2014, she was presented the prestigious Western New York Prosperity Fellowship.

“I was awarded this honorable scholarship because I demonstrated a commitment to continue to actively prepare for careers that further the economic development and growth, in the Western New York region, and I am committed to keeping this promise.”

She was nominated for two outstanding awards in 2015 and 2016.

“Each year Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals recognizes individuals who demonstrate outstanding commitment and service to the Buffalo Niagara community. I received the Community Service Awards in 2015 and in 2016, I received the Inaugural Outstanding American Muslim Millennial Award from WNY.”

Dahir furthered that getting involved in UB and at City Hall in community led efforts has helped her increase her presence and participation in the public realm, which in turn comes with increased public visibility and demands for better tolerance towards black women, Muslim women and women in predominately masculine orientated field/careers.

“My prime focus and passion lies in making a difference in today’s urban sphere, but I am constantly reminded that there are far more men than women in municipal government, far less women of color in architecture and urban development fields of study and it can be incredibly isolating at times. So I always wonder, if more women, more women of color and more Muslim women were taken into account when strategic decisions around building cities and urban landscape are made, what would it look like?”

Since Buffalo is now rising, Dahir believes it’s important to discuss what Buffalo we want to create. She says sustainable development requires working together, thinking differently about our challenges and using them as opportunities to propel us in a new direction.

So what’s in store for the future for this incredibly passionate and empowering woman?

“So,in addition to taking full advantage of my role in government, and in undertaking this course of study, I hope to become a leading Urban planner and philanthropist working towards urban revitalization; I want to reach that five year old that is now watching television and sees a black muslim girl and says I wonder what she was doing. If she could go there, maybe I should go.”

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