Ismael has been serving the metro-Detroit community for many decades. He is currently the Associate Provost for Integrated Learning and Community Partnerships at UM-Dearborn. Previously, he served as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS). He is a nationally recognized advocate for children, the poor and the underserved, as well as an expert in immigration and social reform. In 1973, while still a student at UM-Dearborn, Ismael co-founded the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), the country’s largest Arab American human services organization. Through his direction, the organization went on to receive the Exemplary Community Service Program Award from the State of Michigan and the Points of Light Award by President George H.W. Bush. United Way also acknowledged his commitment to ACCESS when they named him Director of the Year in 1992.
He also founded the National Arab American Museum in Dearborn, one of the first museums of its type in the country. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary Doctors of Laws degree from UM-Dearborn for his life of service to others, and for providing outreach for cultural understanding. Aside from his professional accomplishments, Ismael also serves on many boards and committees. His roles include board member of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Executive Committee member of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, Regent for Eastern Michigan University, Chair of the Immigration Task Force and Cultural Change Network for New Detroit, and the Vice President of the Michigan Democratic Party.