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About Laila

Laila El-Haddad is an award-winning Palestinian author, social activist, policy analyst and journalist.   She frequently speaks on the situation in Gaza, the intersection of food and politics, her own personal journey as a Palestinian mother and journalist, as well as on contemporary Islam.  She has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, The New Statesman, The Daily Star, Le monde diplomatique, and has appeared on many international broadcasting networks, including NPR, CNN, Aljazeera, and CCTV.

She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between and, co-author of the critically acclaimed The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey, which was the recipient of ‘Best Arab Cuisine Book’ award from Gourmand magazine, and a finalist at the 2013 MEMO Palestine Book Awards.  She is also the co-editor the anthology Gaza Unsilenced.

From 2003-2007, El-Haddad was the Gaza correspondent for the Al Jazeera English website and a regular contributor to the BBC World Service, during which time she covered such events as the Gaza Disengagement and the 2006 Palestinian elections.  She also co-directed two Gaza-based documentaries, including the award-winning Tunnel Trade.  

Through her work as a writer and documentarian she provides much-needed insight into the human experience of the region.  In 2014, she featured in CNN program Parts Unknown with celebrity chef and gastronome Anthony Bourdain, in the episode titled "Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza" as his guide in the Gaza Strip, marking the first time a mainstream American audience had seen Gaza in this ordinary, humorous and humane light. 

El-Haddad received her B.A in Political Science and Comparative Areas Studies, with a minor in history, from Duke University in 2000, and her Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2002, where she was the recipient of the Clinton Scholarship and the Barbara Jordan Award for Women’s Leadership.  She is also the recipient of the American Friend’s Service’s Committee’s Inspiration for Hope award and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Literary Leadership Awards. 

El-Haddad has lectured to student groups, academic faculty, community groups, and non-profits in the US and around the world about her experiences and work.

In her spare time, she volunteers with Syrian refugee relief and resettlement efforts in Maryland as well as advocating for Palestinian rights through her involvement with various community and national groups, including the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and American Muslims for Palestine. 

Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents from Gaza, she currently lives in Clarksville, Maryland with her husband, Yassine Daoud, and their three children.  When not containing the blissful chaos of her household, you will frequently find her poking around in other people's kitchens, chatting up taxi drivers, foraging in a forest, or dribbling down a basketball court.