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Community Names Government & Politics Professor “Person of the Year”

Friday, February 3, 2017

Professor of Government and Politics Azzedine Layachi, Ph.D., is the new “Person of the Year” for his community in Valley Stream, NY. He was recognized by the community for his dedication to special needs children and his superb record as a youth soccer coach. This honor, along with Layachi’s record of accomplishments, appeared on the front page of the December 28, 2016 issue of the Valley Stream Herald.

While coaching soccer on Saturdays in Valley Stream and working with a full range of youth abilities, Layachi discovered The Outreach Program for Soccer (TOPS) for special needs youth in Hempstead. TOPS originally launched across the United States in 1978 as a free program open to children ages 4-19. Layachi founded a chapter of TOPS in Valley Stream called the Valley Stream Soccer Club, and became the commissioner of that chapter in 2014. The Valley Stream Soccer Club provides each participant with a free soccer ball, uniform, and t-shirt. Since then, dozens of children with special needs in Valley Stream have bonded over soccer and improved their social and motor skills in a program that caters to their unique needs.

In addition to volunteering several hours a week coaching TOPS, Layachi also recruits young volunteers to assist him in mentoring athletes with special needs. Not only is Layachi passionate about the sport, he is most proud of teaching these children how to play it. He takes time out of his busy academic schedule to serve these children and guide them in forming their own identities within the community. Many in the Valley Stream community value Layachi’s dedication to playing soccer with autistic children, and note that he finds pleasure in helping them communicate and reach their goals.

Layachi is an expert in economic development, political change, political Islam, Middle East politics, African politics, and politics of ethnicity. He is the author of several books, journal articles, and book chapters on these subjects. He is also the former president of the Northeastern Political Science Association and the New York State Political Association.

Layachi is committed to both his work and students at St. John’s and those in need in his community. His accomplishments reach beyond the scope of academia, into the very lives of our future leaders of the world. He truly embodies the SJU Mission to respect the individual, serve the needy, show solidarity with other human beings, and give of oneself to make the world a better place.