Speaker Profiles


maha_Fotor_20130415MAHA ABOUELENEIN / Google

Maha Abouelenein is the Head of Global Communications & Public Affairs for Google in the Middle East & North Africa. With more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, PR strategy and campaign management, Maha drives the Google communications apparatus for 18 countries. Maha holds a Masters Degree in Communications from Minnesota State University – Mankato, USA and an undergraduate degree in International Business & Marketing with a minor in French.



rymHHR PRINCESS RYM ALI / Jordan Media Institute

Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Ali, an internationally renowned journalist, is the founder of JMI. Prior to marrying His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Her Royal Highness worked extensively for international broadcasters including CNN, where she began as a producer in 1998 and later worked as a Baghdad correspondent from 2001 until 2004. Before joining with the BBC, Her Highness developed her portfolio working for Dubai TV, Bloomberg TV, Radio Monte Carlo Moyen Orient and United Press International-UPI. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, Princess Rym Ali also holds a MPhil in Political Science from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris and a MA in English Literature from the Sorbonne. She has been the Executive Commissioner of the Royal Film Commission – Jordan since July 2005. Princess Rym Ali has received many prestigious journalism-related awards including the Alumni Award from the Columbia University School of Journalism, the “Best International Journalist” prize at the 32nd Ischia International Journalism Awards Ceremony and the Excellence in Media Award from the Global Thinkers Forum. Princess Rym Ali is decorated with the honor of French Knight of the Legion of Honor by French Ambassador to Jordan.



Stephanie Durand is Strategic Media Partnerships Manager at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative of the UN Secretary-General which aims to improve understanding among nations and peoples across cultures and religions. She is in charge of media partnerships/ projects management & development, from meeting of media leaders, training of journalists, innovative projects, and manages over 100 strategic media partners worldwide. She previously worked at Sciences Po Paris first as associate director at the international affairs office and then in charge of international development of the School of Journalism. She holds a master’s degree from Sciences Po Paris and the London School of Economics in International Affairs with a focus on international media, and an executive master in media management from Sciences Po.


Yasar_Fotor_20130418YASAR DURRA / Jordan Media Institute

Yasar Durra is a training manager at JMI, where the programs focus on editorial values, human rights and specific skills for mid-career journalists. Previous work included being a full time training consultant at the BBC World Service Trust in London and a free-lance media adviser. He also served as Regional Executive for the Middle East and Africa at Worldwide Television News-UK, where he was in-charge of developing television news services and a network of international Arab reporters for the Gulf States. Durra started his career at Jordan Radio and Television where he produced news programs and set up JRTV’s International News Exchange Department with the European Broadcasting Union.


craigbwCRAIG HAMMER / World Bank Institute

Craig Hammer is Program Leader of The World Bank Institute’s Global Media Development program, a partnership-driven initiative which focuses on information and media as drivers of good governance. A licensed attorney, his work at the World Bank has included strengthening laws, policies, and regulations to enhance the enabling environment for media and access to information, as well as collaborative approaches with media practitioners (journalists, editors, media owners/managers, students, developers, and more) to strengthen the role of media as a key driver of the global knowledge economy, and as a tech-enabled, institution of transparency and accountability. His portfolio is global, and he leads continuing engagements in Bolivia, Ghana, Kenya, Moldova, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.



Emmy-nominated Daniel Sieberg is a tech expert and author who now works with Google marketing as spokesperson and leads media outreach across products like Google+, Google Earth/Maps, Google’s Politics & Elections team and more. Dating back to 2000, Sieberg was previously a tech contributor at ABC News and MSNBC, the CBS News science and technology correspondent, and the technology correspondent for CNN. His written work has appeared in several publications including Time, Salon and Details. He started his journalism career as a daily reporter at the Vancouver Sun covering tech/business/civics in 1998. His first book titled, The Digital Diet: the four-step plan to break your tech addiction and regain balance in your life, was published in May 2011 with additional printings in the UK, Japan and Korea. It’s about nurturing a healthy relationship with technology. Sieberg has a bachelor’s degree in writing/communications (UVic, ’98) and master’s degree in journalism with a focus in technology (UBC, ’00).


Meenakshi_Fotor_20130415MEENAKSHI DALAL / UNAOC Assistant Coordinator

Meenakshi Dalal is a 22-year-old broadcast journalist from the Missouri School of Journalism, currently working with the UNAOC’s media program. She also writes, produces and edits for newsy.com, which provides multi-source mobile news analysis to multiple media partnerships. Through Newsy, Dalal creates content for The Huffington Post, AOL, About.com and others. In addition she produces shows and reports for the NBC affiliate station KOMU.




faisalFAISAL J. ABBAS / Al Arabiya News Channel’s English

Faisal J. Abbas is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s English online service English.AlArabiya.Net; an award-winning journalist and avid blogger renowned for his contributions for the US-based Huffington Post. His previous work includes reporting and producing for Future Television and founding the paper’s acclaimed Media Supplement section of Asharq Al Awsat, a London based pan-Arab Daily. Faisal also worked for Al Hayat, an international Arab newspaper. He contributes commentary to Foreign Policy magazine, Financial Times, The Times and International Herald Tribune; as well as regular appearances as a pundit on Middle Eastern affairs for CNN, BBC, and Sky, among others. During the Arab Spring, Faisal focused on examining the role of social media during the revolutions and the impact they have on Arab societies; he has given many lectures and talks about this topic at Cambridge, LSE, SOAS and other academic institutions. He is currently researching a book around the same topic.


charlesCHARLES N. DAVIS / Missouri School of Journalism, Reynold Institute

Charles N. Davis focuses his scholarly research at the Missouri School of Journalism on access to governmental information and media law. His work appears in law reviews and scholarly journals on issues ranging from federal and state freedom of information laws to libel law, and privacy. He earned a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work in furthering freedom of information. Davis has been a primary investigator for various research grants, including one from the Rockefeller Family Fund for the study of homeland security and freedom of information issues. He was a co-investigator for an award from the U.S. Department of State for a curriculum reform project for Moscow State University in Russia. Previously, Davis was a national correspondent for Lafferty Publications, a Dublin-based news wire service. He reported on banking, e-commerce and regulatory issues. He is a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.


William_Echikson_Fotor_20130415WILLIAM ECHIKSON / Google

William Echikson is Google’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs for Free Expression in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In that role, he is responsible for leading the company’s outreach on its Transparency Report and in its relations with international organizations. Previous work included working as European foreign correspondent for a series of US publications including the Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and BusinessWeek. From 2001 until 2007, he managed the Brussels bureau for Dow Jones as bureau chief. William also has written, directed and produced for television documentaries for America’s Public Broadcasting Service. He has published four books of narrative non-fiction, including a work on the collapse of communism and the history of the Bordeaux wine region. He graduated from Yale College with a Magna Cum Laude degree in history.


melodyMELODY MOEZZI / Writer, Activist, award-winner author and UNAOC Global Expert

Melody Moezzi is an Iranian-American writer, activist, attorney and award-winning author. She is a United Nations Global Expert with the UN Alliance of Civilizations; a member of the British Council’s Our Shared Future Opinion Leaders Network, and a member of the U.S. State Department’s Generation Change initiative. Her first book, War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims, earned her a Georgia Author of the Year Award and a Gustavus Myers Center for Bigotry and Human Rights Honorable Mention. Moezzi blogs for The Huffington Post, Ms. and Bipolar Magazine. Her writings have appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN, NPR, Al Arabiya, Parabola, and the Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, among other outlets. Moezzi has provided on-air commentaries for NPR‘s All Things Considered, BBC, CNN, and many other broadcast news programs. She has also worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reporting to the U.S. Congressional Commission on International Religious Freedom.



Based in Mountain View, California, Vanessa Schneider’s been with Google for two years, working on outreach for Google Maps. Before becoming a Googler, Vanessa worked at The New York Times for several years as a community and user-generated content specialist, Time Inc. as a researcher and reporter, and at New York startup Hot Potato, acquired by Facebook in summer 2010. Vanessa has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Culture & Communication (Ithaca College, ’07).


nicholasNICHOLAS WHITAKER / Google

Before joining Google as senior producer on Google Earth and Google+ Hangouts, Nicholas Whitaker spent the past decade producing, shooting, directing and editing hundreds of videos for non-profits, fortune 500 companies and government agencies. Since 2008, Nicholas has also been a professor at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, and Marymount Manhattan College where he teaches courses in video production, new media and media theory. Nicholas earned his bachelor’s degree in media studies/documentary video production (New School University, 2005) and a master’s degree in media, culture and communications with a focus in political communication and new media (NYU, 2008) Nicholas is currently based out of Brooklyn, New York.