Zausmer Honors Arab American and Chaldean American Heritage Month: Catherine Garmo and Abbes Awada

In honor of Arab and Chaldean American Heritage Month, which celebrates Arab and Chaldean American heritage and culture, Zausmer is highlighting a few attorneys at our firm.

We would like to take this opportunity to spotlight two of our associates, Catherine Garmo and Abbes Awada.

As the second person in her family to attend college and become an attorney, Catherine reflected on her achievements thus far and attributes her successes to her family. Catherine’s parents are originally from Iraq, having immigrated to America in the 80s. “My Chaldean heritage is very important to me because it has shaped me into the woman I am today,” Catherine said. “We are a very family-oriented and hardworking culture.”

Catherine shared with us that her Chaldean background has helped her connect with other Chaldean and Arab attorneys who have grown up and been through the same things that she has experienced. “I have always been around people of the same culture as me, which has helped me not feel like a minority in this community and field of work,” Catherine said.

We asked Catherine to share one thing people in the legal industry can do to support efforts to increase the representation of Arab and Chaldean Americans in the law. “I think people in our profession are actually doing a great job representing the Arab and Chaldean culture,” Catherine said. “I have seen many firms employ Arabs/Chaldeans, and there are many Arab/Chaldeans who own their own firm, which is a great representation of our community.”

Abbes Awada’s family is originally from Lebanon. “For me, my heritage is a source of pride and resilience, a way to connect with my roots and navigate the challenges of living in a multicultural society,” Abbes said. “It is a reminder of the strength and resilience of my family members, who faced countless obstacles in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families.”

Abbes believes his Arab American background has positively impacted his life as an attorney. “Being an Arab American in the United States can present unique challenges, from discrimination and bias to navigating cultural differences and stereotypes. As a lawyer, being an Arab American can impact how one is perceived by clients, colleagues, and judges, and may influence the types of cases one works on,” Abbes shared. “However, being an Arab American brings a unique perspective and set of skills to the legal profession. I am able to provide insight into cultural nuances and help bridge gaps in understanding between different communities. It has allowed me to commit to social justice and advocacy, given the history of discrimination and marginalization that many Arab Americans have faced.”

Abbes shared his advice to more junior Arab and Chaldean American attorneys and law students: “Remember you belong in the legal profession, and your voice and perspective are valuable. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your ideas, even if they may differ from your colleagues. Your unique experiences and background can bring important insights to the table and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.”

Zausmer appreciates and values the many talents and perspectives that each individual brings to the firm and recognizes that our ability to attract and retain attorneys and staff members with diverse backgrounds is fundamental to our success. A well-balanced workplace and diverse culture not only enriches the quality of life for our employees, but also enhances the excellent service we provide to our clients.


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