Company: Ghafari Associates LLC
Impact: Built 2nd-largest architectural/engineering firm in Southeast Michigan, and served as U.S. diplomat
Attended: Wayne State University
A native of Lebanon, Yousif Ghafari moved to Detroit when he was 19 years old and enrolled at Wayne State University. He received a bachelor’s in mathematics in 1974, a master’s in applied mathematics and computer applications in 1975, and a master’s in chemical engineering in 1981.
“When I first came to the United States to attend college, I didn’t have any idea of where to go,” Ghafari said. “My uncle suggested I go to Wayne State; it wasn’t far away, it was affordable, and they accepted me. Just a few years later I had the education I needed to become a licensed engineer and start a company.”
He went on to establish his company, Ghafari Associates LLC, in Dearborn in 1982. It was ranked by Crain’s Detroit Business as Southeast Michigan’s second-largest architectural/engineering firm, with additional locations in Chicago and Indianapolis. Ghafari also served as U.S. ambassador to Slovenia under the George W. Bush administration.
Ghafari’s projects have won awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Construction Association of Michigan, the Engineering Society of Detroit and others. Among many notable architectural and engineering projects on the firm’s resume is the refurbishment of Wayne State’s Old Main building and work on the University’s Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center.