A Fort Bend District Attorney official was recently honored by the state of Texas with an award recognizing his hard work on the job.
Ibrahim Elias Khawaja, Texas’ first Arab-American First Assistant, received the award as part of Arab American Heritage Month and because of his dedication to the Fort Bend community.
For Fort Bend, the most diverse county in America, it’s a sign that hiring county officials that represent their community is paying off.
“I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting it. I’m not big on awards, I don’t like people singing happy birthday to me,” Khawaja joked with the Texas Signal.
He said he was humbled by the award, but surprised he was the first Arab-American in Texas to hold the post.
“It is a big deal that I’m the first, but at the end of the day, my goal is for stuff like this to not be a big deal,” Khawaja said. “That’s what being progressive means to me. It’s not about holding a plaque, it’s about implementing progressive ideals.”
A University of St. Thomas and University of Houston graduate, Khawaja spent much of his career working in the Houston area.
Before starting his own successful legal defense firm, he served as an assistant district attorney in the Harris County DA’s Office. He said his time working in Harris County motivated and informed his return to local government law.
“I wanted to go back because I wanted to take my experience and makes changes in the system,” Khawaja said.
He said one of the biggest changes seen coming out of Fort Bend District Attorney’s Office under the leadership of Brian Middleton include a Cannabis Oil Diversion Program— a pre-trial diversion program that allows people to avoid a felony charge if caught with THC concentrates.
“I wanna be able to look back in 50 years from now and see that I opened the door for many other people to follow in my footsteps and to carry on this legacy and to continue to be able to earn their positions based on merit and hardwork,” Khawaja said.