Hey! I'm Laila Alawa (Laila doesn't, as many people have thought over the years, come from my parents' fascination with the Eric Clapton song. It's pronounced like Lay-la. My last name is A-la-wa.)
I currently work as a digital strategist and communications associate for KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, while serving as an associate editor for The Islamic Monthly, writing as a columnist for The Huffington Post, PolicyMic, AltMuslim, The Guardian, The Islamic Monthly, MuslimGirl.net and ILLUME Media. I am the founder and president of Coming of Faith LLC, a social venture utilizing digital media to tell the stories of underrepresented minorities, and serve as a branding and constituency consultant for a number of businesses and political personalities. I am the media relations director for the American Muslim Consumer Consortium, and work as a project manager for a crowdfunding platform. I run a successful jewelry business by the name of Lilla Stjarna (Icelandic for 'pieces of the stars', a play on my Danish heritage and last name meaning 'stars').
In 2014, I was selected as a social media leader to develop and curate content, engage online communities, and live tweet at the U.S. Department of State's Meetup for the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony. During that year, the White House recognized my accomplishments at an event - "Beyond the Ceiling: Groundbreaking Voices of American Muslim Women" - in celebration of Women's History Month. I was also selected as a fellow for the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute.
Born in Denmark, I immigrated to the United States as a young child after having spent the first few years of my life in Japan.
I found myself growing up in the suburbs of New England, and currently live in Washington, D.C. I am the oldest of eight children and was homeschooled from the second grade until I graduated a year early from high school to get started on college.
I attended Wellesley College where I pursued my childhood passion of people-watching with a major in psychology and minor in education studies. Throughout my time there, I split my time between working for the rights of underrepresented minorities on campus and working with professors on innovative psychology research covering such topics as stereotype threat for women in the sciences, consumer behaviorism and minority stereotyping and judgement. As a result of my research on stereotype threat for women in the sciences, I was published as an author, under the paper "Stereotypes About Gender and Science: Women =/= Scientists."I worked for two years as a research specialist at Princeton University, studying socio-cognitive processing under the framework of community identity and belonging.
I was all for studying the world through an academic lens until I discovered my true passion for being in the middle of the story- sometimes even being a part of creating the story. I found my deep passion for writing, story production and activism once I graduated, and haven't looked back since.
I have been a member of the Asian American Journalists Association, American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, and Muslim American Journalists Association since early 2013.
I have been published in The Guardian, School Library Journal, The Huffington Post, PolicyMic, LeanIn.com, Wellesley Underground, Religion Dispatches, ILLUME Media, AltMuslimah, Patheos: AltMuslim, The Toast, The Islamic Monthly, and MuslimGirl.net.
I am a digital strategist, a thought leader, a visionary, and most importantly, a learner and mentor - and I love what I do.
Laila in the News
04/04/2014- "The After-Party: #EmpoweredMuslimWomen" The Chicago Monitor
04/04/2014- "54 Powerful Tweets Explaining What It Means To Be An Empowered Muslim Woman" Buzzfeed
12/20/2013- "Twitter Turns Ugly Over PR Person's Idiotic Tweet" Mashable
11/05/2013- "Islamophobic Groups Well Funded" Islamic Horizons
05/20/2013- "Femen: It's Wrong and Alienating Women of Different Views" PolicyMic
07/12/2012- "Letter from the 2012 Young Leaders Government Summit Delegates to President Obama" Muslim Public Affairs Council
09/11/2011-"Woman Remembers Trying to Understand Attacks" NPR/WBUR
09/08/2011-"Strangers in their own land, as they came of age" The Boston Globe
09/06/2010- "Reignited ire buffets Muslim students" The Boston Globe