Salah Ali: Putting family first in the fight for clean air

Salah Ali: Putting family first in the fight for clean air

Salah Ali is a family man with a lot on his plate. Fortunately, he is an engineer that knows how to find innovative solutions — an absolute must as a husband and father of four. 

Rising in the morning before his kids, Salah spends his work day (remotely during the pandemic) developing exciting new technologies for Ford Motor Company — but he really takes things into overdrive after clocking out of his day job. From serving in a state-appointed role on the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, to attending city council meetings or speaking to legislators, and, of course, his role as a board member for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, Salah devotes a lot of his time and energy toward a more healthy and sustainable future. 

Despite Salah’s full plate, his family and kids are his top priority. He makes it a priority to carve out time with his children every evening to see what kind of support they need. It is this passion for his family to grow in a safe and healthy environment that motivates Salah, with the knowledge gained from growing up in Dearborn and realizing a healthy environment is not a given. This perspective feeds his passion, giving him that extra spark that is so easy to notice when you talk with him.

Growing up in Dearborn, Salah was impacted by poor air quality and environmental injustices. 

“As a child, I had thought it was the norm and the sight of billowing smoke from stacks was a constant reminder of an everyday reality. It wasn’t until I went to high school and met people from other parts of the city that I realized something was really wrong.”

He attended Dearborn Public Schools, enrolling in a demanding 2 year engineering program at Fordson High School. Salah would attend this Academy of Engineering & Technology program for half the day and then jump over to his primary school (Edsel Ford High School) for the rest of day. 

This rigorous education prepared Salah well for an Electrical and Computer Engineering bachelor’s degree from Wayne State. But it was after his bachelor’s degree that Salah experienced a rude awakening that turned out to be a pivotal moment in his journey. Shortly after graduating, the global “Great Recession” hit the economy which led to unemployment. 

“Having to choose between supporting my family and pursuing a higher education was never a thought I could have imagined.”

But as it turns out, losing his job was a blessing in disguise. 

“It gave me an opportunity to volunteer with nonprofit organizations and meet social, cultural and environmental advocates. Through this network, I felt motivated and inspired that progress to the environmental horror experience I grew up with is possible.” 

Through this experience, Salah found inspiration to double down on addressing environmental injustice.

Fast forward 9 years, and Salah earned his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. 

The combination of Salah’s real-world experience with his high level engineering education makes him a unique and effective advocate who is able to cut through the noise toward real solutions. He brings the first-hand familiarity of the impacts of poor environmental conditions on people with the ability to develop recommendations for environmental policies.

He brings with him a network of advocates who are passionate for positive change through his involvement with the American Human Rights Council, the Clean Air Council of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, in addition to the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice.

Despite the boards he already served on, the professional societies, and a full work and home life, Salah recognizes the critical importance of Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund’s dedicated mission to educate the public and decision makers on the issues, feeling hopeful and excited at the chance of getting involved. 

“It’s one of, if not the most, reputable, hard working, extraordinary environmental groups in the state….The environment impacts everyone in some form or fashion; some more than others. It’s best to involve yourself proactively before it becomes reactionary.”

Michigan LCV Ed Fund is thankful that Salah is giving a considerable amount of his time, energy, and talents to the organization, and more importantly, the cause and the movement around a more healthy and sustainable future for people in Michigan. And we are very grateful to his family for sharing him with us!

Join The Movement

Get exclusive, real-time updates about environmental action in Lansing — PLUS ways you can take action straight to your inbox.

Join the movement to protect the Great Lakes state

And we’ll show you two ways to help. Together, we can be a voice for change and protect Michigan’s land, air, water, public health, and democracy.