Sam Rasoul epitomizes the ambitious spirit of America’s immigrant families. “My parents left the Middle East due to turmoil in the late 1960s,” says Rasoul, who was born in Ohio and raised in the Roanoke Valley. Rasoul, who would go on to earn an MBA, start two businesses, and help run a healthcare nonprofit, in 2014 became the only Muslim member of the Virginia General Assembly. He’s since focused on community enrichment projects like Thankful Thursdays, a weekly forum aimed at bringing Roanoke law enforcement and community members closer together, and church partnership that helps former inmates find secure housing. “My family and I learned to integrate into the Roanoke community through the strong friendships that we built in the neighborhoods where we worked and lived. Now, as an elected official in the most powerful country in the world, I am truly living the American dream.”
Employers’ inability to fill [some key] positions is impacting our economic success as a nation.
Rasoul’s parents first sparked his entrepreneurial spirit when they opened their own small business, a corner convenience store, in 1984. After getting his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Roanoke College, followed by a brief stint in Honolulu to get an MBA at Hawaii Pacific University, Rasoul returned home to follow in his parents’ footsteps. He became a small business owner and later the chief financial officer and chief operating officer of a healthcare nonprofit. Several years ago he opened Envigor, a small company that advises businesses on digital integration, strategic planning, and employee training.
Time and time again, Rasoul’s clients and business owners in his district say they can’t find enough qualified American employees to grow their companies, he says. “Employers’ inability to fill these positions is impacting our economic success as a nation. That’s why we have to diversify our workforce. Those living in the shadows today, could benefit the economy by adding billions to the tax base if given status.”