Chatting It Up With Fatenah Issa

Posted By on Mar 7, 2019

You can say “Good Morning” to a fellow coworker each day and spend time together in the kitchen waiting for the microwave to warm up your egg and bacon biscuit sandwich; yet you may never really know how awesome they truly are.  

Over the next few months, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into the lives of our Suite Spotte members in Forest Park and La Grange. It’s going be fun learning about and sharing their amazing talents and little known factoids.

Fatenah in Arabic garb

In honor of International Women’s Day, we bring you a recent conversation we had with Suite Spotter Fatenah Issa, who we are blessed to work with here in Forest Park.

Let’s start with your background.  Tell us:  Who is Fatenah Issa?

I’m the daughter of immigrants. My family is originally from Baghdad, Iraq. So basically I grew up between two cultures that tended to be more out of sync.  I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.

My father came to the US on a student VISA in 1957, went back to Baghdad and married my mom in 1969, then brought her to the States. They were here the rest of their lives. Their names are commemorated on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor.

I follow a vegan lifestyle.  I’ve been vegan for 9 years and vegetarian 13 years prior to that.  This is incredibly important to me from all avenues: health, animal rights, environmental issues, as well as just trying to save the planet!

What about your work life?  Tell us about the professional you.

 I am an instructional designer, which is a fancy way of saying “educational architect.” I currently work for Orbis Education, an OPM (outsourced program management) firm that specializes in partnering with universities across the country to help develop health sciences programming.

What’s your favorite thing about your work?

There are two actually:

I love to learn and I love to share! I’m constantly investigating new research and best practices to bring the best student experiences to online higher ed courses.

I thrive on discussion.  So having members of my team available to “talk shop” and brainstorm is key for me.

In costume for the Newberry performance — Ouled Nail garb

Pick three words that best describe you.

Curious, humble, caring     

When you unplug from your instructional design work, what do you do?

There are several things I love to do to help with the work-life balance.

I study Middle Eastern dance at Pineapple Dance Studio right here in Forest Park. We learn a variety of dance styles and get the opportunity to perform.

The last major performance was at the Newberry Library, where we performed choreographies similar to what would have been performed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Here’s the blurb from their site.

Threatened by a fearful Dalek, a gold metal monster

I’m also an avid Doctor Who fan! I’ve been a fan since I was 8 years old. Not only do I enjoy watching but I help run conventions. One where I’ve helped run for close to 15 years in the registration department is Gallifrey One, a Doctor Who convention that has now been running for 30 years! The link is to the staff list, where I’m named under the registration team.

I’m an Ambassador for the Sugar Beet Food Co-op in Oak Park. During the warmer months I volunteer my time to help run the Sugar Beet table at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market.  I also help promote various events there via social media.

Flotsam, Jetsam, and Duncan — the overlords

Lastly, I’m just a very happy cat mom. Three furry overlords run my home (I just pay the mortgage…they run the place really 🙂 ).

What’s your favorite thing about being a member at Suite Spotte?

The atmosphere that Sue has created in the space is just incredible. It’s a lovely alternative to working from home (which by the way is less than a 10 minute drive for me).

Also, the other members are super friendly.  Even though we stem from different industries there are challenges we all face, which helps when I need to brainstorm.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

My gut reaction to this question is that the day honors our voice, our contributions to the world, as well as reemphasizing the dire need for equality. The work continues to ensure gender equality. We’ve come so far. At the same time there’s still work to be done.


Thank you Fatenah for sharing your amazing life with all of us. You are smart, talented, delightful, and have the best laugh ever!!  Stay tuned next month when we delve into the life of another Suite Spotter. Happy International Women’s Day! #BalanceforBetter


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