The power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways is the hallmark of an influential person. Successful influencers know how to act or produce an effect that drives change, within organizations and society at large, through the use of their platforms. Whether it be creating content, communities or technologies, they don’t need to be at the head of the table or industry to make the world a better place.
Marcom Weekly proudly recognizes the first-ever list of Influential Arab Americans in Marketing and Media. Our list identifies pioneers in media and marketers who change the way business is done. Most importantly, they represent some of the strongest advocates of inclusion for people of color, no matter their ethnicity, nationality or religion.
This year’s list includes former U.S. congressional candidate Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Harvard-grad-turned-CEO May Habib and MSNBC’s Ayman, and several more.
Laila Alhusini is an award-winning American journalist, radio host and content creator. She is the founder of U.S. Arab Radio, a national radio program that reaches more than three million afﬂuent Arab-Americans in the United States and Canada and delivers radio and television coverage linking Arab-Americans in the Middle East with programming in English and Arabic. U.S. Arab Media, of which she is the CEO, is both the parent company of U.S. Arab Radio and online news outlet covering top stories of importance to Arab Americans. Through these initiatives and as the host of three U.S. Arab Radio programs, Alhusini continues to interview national and international guests, with a mandate to unify Arab and American communities and their diverse audiences. She has more than 15 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism and contributed to the business news service Zawya, a Thomson Reuters Company, focused on the Middle East. She previously worked as a reporter for the BBC World Service and the Associated Press before immigrating to the United States. She was a recipient of the Broadcaster Award from The Arab American Magazine‘s Today, Community Leadership Award from Life for Relief and Development and Arab American Business Woman of the Year Award.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is an author, entrepreneur, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl, the most read platform for Muslim women’s voices in the country. What she started as a platform designed to be a stepping stone for young Muslim women has since reclaimed the Muslim women’s narrative in mainstream coverage in Western media with its own unprecedented columns in outlets including Teen Vogue, Fortune, and The Huffington Post. It became the first Muslim company to make the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Al-Khatahtbeh became the first veiled woman to be honored in the media category and rang the NASDAQ Opening Bell in 2016. She was named one of Teen Vogue‘s “New Faces of Feminism,” a “Generation Prophet” by The Economist and was invited by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama to speak at the inaugural U.S. State of Women Summit. Al-Khatahtbeh is a leading voice in social, religious, and political issues, regularly appearing in television and online media outlets such as CNN, BBC, and more. She has appeared on CBS’s “Face The Nation” and spoken in spaces like the Clinton Global Initiative University with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Cannes Lions, and the White House, among others. She previously wrote a column for Forbes, was also the first Muslim woman to run for federal office in New Jersey and curated Spotify’s Muslim Vibes playlist for Muslim Women’s Day.
Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is an Emmy-nominated journalist, producer and actor. He recently left his position as a senior presenter for AJ+ where he produced award-winning documentaries focused on social justice and human rights to explore new forms of storytelling and develop a podcast. He appears as a commentator for CNN; NBC; BBC; MSNBC; Al Jazeera; Yahoo; and other platforms, and is often invited to speak at leading media, technology, and ideas conferences around the world – including the UN, World Economic Forum, SXSW, Aspen Ideas Festival and Google Zeitgeist. Previously, Shihab-Eldin worked as a producer as well as for The New York Times, The Huffington Post and PBS. In 2015, Ahmed was a correspondent on six documentaries for the award-winning “VICE on HBO,” which he helped produce. His recognitions include the Arabian Business Power List “100 under 40: The world’s most influential young Arabs” in 2015 and 2016, Forbes’ “30 Under 30 list of young disruptors, innovators & media entrepreneurs impatient to change the world” in 2013 and the Professional Excellence Award from the Network of Arab-American Professionals also in 2013. In 2009, Shihab-Eldin began teaching digital media courses as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School Of Journalism, his alma mater. Shihab-Eldin is passionate about telling stories that connect people across boundaries and borders that separate them.
May Habib is the CEO and co-founder of Writer (formerly known as Qordoba), an AI writing assistant company that helps businesses all around the world write content that’s more clear, consistent, and on-brand. Habib helps content owners and leaders scale their messaging, communication style, and must-have language, no matter who’s writing. “I know that words matter now more than ever in every facet of life, with business being no exception,” Habib tells Marcom Weekly. “The more companies make using a language that takes diversity into account a priority, the more it moves the needle to an inclusive workplace environment and customer interactions,” she added. Finding a way to help companies develop a consistent voice by avoiding insensitive language and crafting clear and on-brand content was a key motivator in developing Writer. Top companies including Twitter, Intuit, and McKesson have standardized their content creation on Writer. Her company was named to the Forbes’ Cloud 100 Rising Stars for its AI-powered content guidelines that help organizations like Marriott and Braintree align all types of content — from communications to marketing to product to HR. In addition to this, Writer’s significant growth also led the company to twice earn a spot on the Arabia Growth 500 list. Habib was a recipient of the young CEO of the Year Award from Arabian Business Magazine, serves on the board of Techwadi, an organization that bridges Silicon Valley with the Middle East’s tech community and is the alumni secretary of her undergraduate class at Harvard.
Ayman Mohyeldin is a media personality working as an anchor for NBC News and MSNBC where he hosts “MSNBC Live with Ayman Mohyeldin” weekday afternoons. Prior to joining MSNBC, Ayman previously worked for Al Jazeera English where he covered the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and was a foreign news producer with CNN. Mohyeldin has covered major news events in the Arab World and the Middle East including the Iraq War, the first multi-candidate presidential Egyptian elections, Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the 2005 Palestinian elections in the Gaza Strip. He has covered the Sharm al-Sheikh resort and Jordan Hotel bombings. He became the first journalist to enter one of Libya’s nuclear research facilities after producing Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi’s first interview announcing Libya would abandon all weapons of mass destruction programs. Mohyeldin served as an associate producer for the NBC News Special that also received Emmy nominations for “Ship at War: Inside the Carrier Stennis” and “Inside the Real West Wing.” Ayman has also covered the annual Muslim Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca and was involved in the production of CNN specials “Islam: The Struggle Within” and “Hajj: A Spiritual Journey.
Dena Takruri is a senior presenter and producer at AJ+, a digital media venture by the Al Jazeera Media Network based in San Francisco, CA. She is also a producer and featured profile in the Peabody and Emmy nominated series “The Secret Life of Muslims.” Previously, Takruri was a host and producer at HuffPost Live, the online streaming video network of The Huffington Post based in New York City. She covered a vast range of topics, from foreign affairs to domestic politics, and even lifestyle and fashion. Prior to joining HuffPost Live, Takruri was with Al Jazeera Arabic in Washington D.C. for four years – producing its flagship political talk show, “Min (From) Washington.” Takruri is recognized for her bold and immersive reporting, characterized by speaking truth to power in any setting and giving voice to those unheard. Many of her videos have gone viral, earning millions of views on Facebook and YouTube. She has reported internationally on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and on Europe’s refugee crisis, where she was one of the first journalists to ever broadcast using Facebook Live. She has extensively covered the #BlackLivesMatter movement and issues related to Arab and Muslim communities in the U.S.