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Jessikka Aro is an award-winning investigative reporter with the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Aro specializes in Russia, extremism and information warfare. In 2014 she started to investigate pro-Kremlin social media troll techniques and influence on public debates outside of Russia’s borders; now, her reporting is widely quoted and used in international troll investigations. Due to her work, she became the target of a severe and ongoing international propaganda and hate speech campaign. In 2019, Aro published a best-selling investigative book about Kremlin’s information warfare in Finnish, which has been translated to several languages. Aro is also lobbying for better legislation to counter hybrid threats and protect citizens from state-sponsored online security threats, and has testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs at a hearing on "Russian Disinformation Attacks on Elections: Lessons from Europe.” In 2019, the US State Department awarded her with the International Women of Courage Award, but the award was mysteriously rescinded by the Trump administration allegedly due to Aro’s social media criticism of President Trump.
Broadcast journalist Yakeen Bido spent her early years in Idleb moving between her hometown and Latakia during the onset of Syrian war in 2011. Following her studies in sociology, Yakeen returned to Idleb, and for five years she’s reported on political, military and humanitarian issues enduring violent interrogations, smear campaigns and multiple arrests. Bido has contributed to outlets including Orient TV, Al-kul Radio, BBC TV, Damascus Voice Radio, France 24 and ANA Press Agency. Syria ranks 174 out of 180 countries in the RSF 2020 Global Press Freedom Index, but Bido continues to report on-camera – she is the first woman to broadcast from the region. Risking her life from the frontlines, Yakeen faces death threats from Assad regime-supporters due to her identification as a woman and role as a journalist. Yakeen has previously been awarded International Women’s Day honors from the Head of Coordination of the Syrian Revolution in Turkish Urfa, in recognition of her work in the press and pioneering role in society.
When Gulchehra Hoja began reporting for Xinjiang TV, pressure to promote the Communist Party led her to Radio Free Asia (RFA), which offered the only autonomous Uighur-language news outside of China. After joining RFA in the U.S., Gulchehra was sent a “red notice” from China, banning her from returning home. Today, two dozen of her family members – among an estimated 800,000 to 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in detainment – face “cultural genocide,” according to Gulchehra. Categorized as “re-education” facilities, these detention camps in Xinjiang also include crematoriums. Following Gulchehra’s risky interviews with escapees, prison guards and other officials, she testified in front of the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on the dangers of reporting on human rights.
Solafa Magdy is a multimedia reporter based in Cairo, Egypt. Her news reports and features have covered the political transition and social unrest in Egypt, minority rights, women’s rights, education, human rights, refugees and sexual harassment in Egyptian society. Her work has appeared in Alroeya (UAE), TRT World, MadaMasr and BBC Egypt. An expert in mobile journalism, she is the founder of Everyday Footage, a school that trains young women journalists and researchers in mobile reporting.
At the United Nations, Solafa is keen to follow discussions of human rights – particularly, freedom of speech and protections for journalists – as well as initiatives to eradicate poverty and reduce plastic waste. Solafa has been imprisoned in excruciating conditions since November 2019, when she was abducted and detained following a raid of independent news outlets in Cairo. She has been jailed in pre-trail detention without access to a fair trial, exceeding what is lawfully prescribed in Egyptian law.
Susan Goldberg is Editor in Chief of National Geographic and Editorial Director of National Geographic Partners. As Editorial Director, she leads all journalism across platforms, including digital journalism, magazines, podcasts, maps, newsletters and Instagram. She was named Editorial Director in October 2015 and Editor in Chief of National Geographic Magazine in April 2014. She is the 10th editor, and first female editor, of the magazine since it was first published in October 1888.
Under her leadership, National Geographic has been honored with nine National Magazine Awards, including four awards in 2020 and the top prize for General Excellence in 2019. In 2020, National Geographic also was named the Webby Media Company of the Year, with a total of 15 awards, as well as earning the Gold Medal as Brand of the Year for the Society of Publication Designers, the most prestigious award for visual journalism in the industry. In addition, National Geographic was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2019 and for Explanatory Reporting in 2017. The magazine has received numerous other awards for photography, storytelling and graphics. Goldberg also has led reporting that was honored with multiple local, state and national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize at the San Jose Mercury News (1990/Breaking News), and a finalist for the Pulitzer at The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (2009/Feature Writing).
Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, a role she began in January 2018. She often tells stories about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. Alcindor is also a contributor for NBC News and MSNBC often appearing on a number of shows including Morning Joe, Andrea Mitchell Reports, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Previously, Alcindor worked as a national political reporter for The New York Times where she covered the presidential campaigns of Mr. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders as well as Congress. She also wrote about the impact of President Donald Trump’s policies on working class people and people of color. Before joining The Times, she was a national breaking news reporter for USA Today and traveled across the country to cover stories including the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. and the police related protests in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Md. Alcindor’s overall goal is to be a civil rights journalist and she was inspired by the late PBS NewsHour anchor Gwen Ifill. In 2020, the White House Correspondents’ Association named Alcindor the recipient of the Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage. She has also been honored with the Ifill Next Generation Award by Simmons University and NextGen Leader Award by the Georgetown Entertainment & Media Alliance. In 2017, she won an award in a tribute to Ifill during Syracuse University’s Toner Prize ceremony. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and was named the organization’s “Emerging Journalist of the Year” in 2013. Alcindor earned a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University and a bachelor’s in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University. A native of Miami, Fla., Yamiche is married to a fellow journalist and is the daughter of Haitian immigrants who met while attending Boston College.
Christiane Amanpour is CNN's chief international anchor and host of the network's award-winning, flagship global affairs program "Amanpour," which also airs on PBS in the United States. She is based in the network's London bureau.
Her illustrious career in journalism spans more than three decades joining CNN in 1983. Amanpour rose through the organization becoming the network's leading international correspondent reporting on international crisis in the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Palestinian territories, Iran, Sudan, Israel, Pakistan, Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Egypt, Libya.
Amanpour has interviewed most of the top world leaders during her career and has received every major broadcast award, including an inaugural Television Academy Award, fourteen News and Documentary Emmys, four Peabody Awards, two George Polk Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards and the Courage in Journalism Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award and ten honorary degrees.
She was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame, Broadcast & Cable Hall of Fame and The Atlanta Press Club’s Hall of Fame. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an honorary citizen of Sarajevo and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of the Press and the Safety of Journalists. Amanpour is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island.
Elisa Lees Muñoz
Elisa Lees Muñoz is the IWMF’s Executive Director. Elisa leads the organization to achieve its mission to support women journalists to develop their careers by providing training, tools and assistance so that they can work as safely as possible. She enhances the IWMF’s brand, and delivers the annual Courage in Journalism and Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Courage in Photojournalism Award. She is charged with growing the IWMF by expanding its programs into new geographies; introducing new initiatives such as Hostile Environments and First Aid Training (HEFAT); partnering with other organizations; and driving communications and outreach to our core constituents. Elisa has been a human rights activist since graduating from the University of Maryland with an MA degree in International Relations. Before joining the IWMF as Director of Programs, Elisa lead the Crimes of War Education Project and before that monitored the human rights of scientists for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served as an election monitor for the OSCE in the Balkans.
“It is a privilege to lead an organization as unique as the IWMF. Supported by our Board; leaders in journalism, media and communications; we have the opportunity to improve the skills, security and lives of women journalists around the world. And, by doing so, enable their voices and those of whom they cover to be heard.”