Lul Mohamud is the Executive Director of The Person Center (TPC), a DC-based non-profit that supports African Immigrant and Refugee survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
TPC was founded in 2013 by the late Amelia Missieledies and the organization continues to honor her vision by prioritizing linguistic inclusivity and intersectional justice in its trauma-informed approach.
“Really just the best way to describe not only myself, but everyone who works in this wonderful group, is really just advocates through and through,” Lul says.
A child of Somali immigrants, Lul grew up in the same community that she now serves. Being raised in DC’s tight-knit African Immigrant community shaped who she is.
“I am a listener, I am someone who tries to observe first, think next and then speak. And I learned that through the traditions and the storytelling and the cultural closeness and collectivism that really exists in the African Immigrant community across the different cultures that are represented,” Lul explains.
Once Lul got older, she realized that her community members were experiencing more under the surface than she saw as a child.
“I started to see more of what was plaguing this community that I love the most – the traumas, the challenges, the stressors of everyday life as an immigrant in the United States, but on top of that, as a Black immigrant, as a Black woman and then as someone who is trying to survive at the hands of an abuser,” she shares.
Lul pursued degrees in neuroscience and African American studies at Boston University. While she initially planned to focus her career on brain research, a college internship with Amelia Missieledies changed her path.
“Working with her directly, I saw the fire behind her eyes. And she didn’t hold back on showing me the reality of what survivors are experiencing, the challenges, the loopholes, the obstacles, how overwhelmingly exhausting it is to advocate for yourself in a system that recognizes you only as other. And my entire world changed,” Lul explains.
This mentorship helped Lul realize her true calling was in violence prevention work. And after completing an MPH, Lul began working with TPC again.
“It really has become my goal on this journey to ensure that we can push ourselves to see a world without violence,” she says.
Find Hope in the Present
To achieve her goal, Lul doesn’t look to a distant future for motivation. Instead, she finds hope in what she sees now.
“I hear a lot of stories, I see a lot of things and it’s hard, it’s difficult – it’s supposed to be. This is not supposed to be normal for us,” she explains. “I see beauty in the small things, the small signals of resiliency and the small signals of change.”
Lul knows that these small signs of change can have a big impact on the larger community.
“The well-being of one is the well-being of all,” she says. “It really is that collectivist nature that is a core element of a lot of African cultures, in particular, that we need to adopt.”
Work Horizontally and Practice Gratitude
Lul’s internship with Amelia Missieledies highlights the importance of mentorship. But Lul also values building a strong community with her peers.
“I take a lot of time to connect with and work with young women in my age group, not only in my field but just across it,” she says.
Having conversations with her peers allows for innovative and creative thinking.
“When you’re working with a group of people you can just level it out, you can really just break through obstacles that you never thought you could before on your own,” she adds.
In her work with TPC, Lul draws on her personal experiences as well as the perspective of her staff and the community she serves. And she believes in the importance of practicing gratitude for all of life’s miracles – including finding your passion.
“There’s nothing that anyone can be more grateful for than finding a purpose, finding a place where your purpose and your passion overlap, where the people that you love become your sole focus – that’s an honor in itself,” she says.