I Speak for Myself is an inclusive platform through which people can make themselves heard and where everyone’s voice has a place. ISFM’s mission focuses on delivering one core product, a “narrative collection” that is mindset-altering, inspiring, relatable, and teachable. We aim to deliver interfaith, intercultural titles that are narrow in scope but rich in diversity.
Please be sure to check out the website, www.ispeakformyself.com, to learn more about the series.
Maria Ebrahimji is a journalist, strategist, speaker, and independent consultant. Her clients include media organizations, academia, and non-profits. She is passionate about storytelling, diversity and talent development and you will always find her at the intersection of “people” and “ideas.”
As Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer of I Speak for Myself Inc., Maria recruits and cultivates writers and editors, develops content and themes, and designs branding and marketing strategies for each book. She takes great pride in bringing compelling narratives to the forefront and more importantly, developing books that are diverse and groundbreaking.
Maria spent 15 years at CNN Worldwide, where she led a team in guest coverage, newsgathering, and story planning for CNN’s special events, breaking news, and multi-platform programming. While at CNN, she was involved in the coverage of ground-breaking news stories including four Presidential elections; 9/11; the Iraq War; Madrid train bombing; Pakistan and Haiti earthquakes; 2011 Arab uprisings; Royal Wedding; Boston Marathon bombing, and the deaths of Yasser Arafat, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Benazir Bhutto, and Pope John Paul II. She has produced live events with luminaries and newsmakers – during breaking news and in the backdrop of major global events such as Davos, CGI, and the Fortune Global Forum.
Passionate about diversity in the newsroom and across the media spectrum, Maria played an instrumental role on CNN’s Diversity Council, serving as its Vice Chair for several years and shaping diversity strategy in the areas of marketplace, content, workplace, and workforce. In addition she launched and executed CNN Dialogues, a three-year partnership between CNN, the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, and Emory University’s Johnson Institute for the Study of Race & Difference.
Maria is on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Press Club, serves as an advisor to Tau Chapter, Alpha Chi Omega, Inc., and is a member of the Marketing Committee for the Board of Directors of Girls Inc., Atlanta. Her community affiliations include the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, the Georgia Diversity Council, and Refresh South – an events series in Atlanta featuring innovators and global thinkers. She is a former Manfred Woerner, BMW Transatlantic, and Knight Digital fellow, and a former Aspen Young Professionals program graduate. Ebrahimji has also participated in the East-West Center’s Sr. Journalism Seminar in Southeast Asia and is a member of the the Asian American Journalists Association and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications.
Ebrahimji holds a B.A. degree in Mass Communications from Brenau Women’s College and a Master’s of Arts degree in Political Science & International Affairs from Georgia State University.
Zahra Suratwala: As Co-Founder of the I Speak for Myself book series and President/CEO of Zahra Ink, Incorporated, I have found a way to combine my love of writing with my desire to pursue projects that can truly affect change. My writing has appeared in various publications including Patheos, Elan Magazine, AltMuslimah, and Feminist.com. Volume 1 of the ISFM series, “I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim”, was released in May 2011 and was named #2 on HuffPo’s list, Best Religion Books of 2011. Volume 2, “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim”, was released in June 2012 and immediately received a coveted Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly. The ISFM series continues to grow with a new volume coming out each year, and is sparking dialogue across the country.
In September 2012, I was invited by the U.S. Department of State to travel to several cities in Thailand and Cambodia and spoke with various communities there, in an effort to engage in cross-cultural dialogue and break down stereotypes about American Muslims.
I obtained my Masters of Arts degree in English Literature from Loyola University Chicago in 2003. I have lived in Bangkok, Thailand and Cairo, Egypt and have negotiated my identity as a Muslim American woman living both in the US and abroad. When I am not writing, I can be found causing a ruckus with my husband, son and daughter. If home is where the heart is, my home is firmly placed in their hands.
I currently live in one of the most soulful urban landscapes in America: Chicago, IL. However, my restless feet have taken me across the globe on more than one occasion. I have traveled the world in an effort to find myself and have only recently begun to understand that while traveling is indeed a wonderful activity, finding myself can be done much closer to home, by simply picking up a pen. Thus I write in anticipation of what I will discover in my words.