Benefit Dinner 2014 Awardees
Heba Morayef '00
Egypt Director, Human Rights Watch
A prominent advocate for human rights in the region, Morayef serves as the Egypt director in the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, where she has been working for the past five years. Morayef has been named by Forbes as a Power Woman 2013: Women to Watch this Year and was recognized by Foreign Policy among the top 100 leading global thinkers in 2013. At Human Rights Watch, Morayef is responsible for documenting human rights violations, analyzing the situation and trends in Egypt, as well as researching, writing and publicizing reports about violations. Previously, she worked at the international secretariat of Amnesty International in London as a campaigner for Libya and Tunisia, at Article 19 as the Middle East program officer in London and at the United Nations Development Programme's Human Rights Capacity Building Project in Cairo. Morayef graduated from AUC with a bachelor’s in political science, specializing in public international law. She also studied international human rights law graduate courses at the University. Morayef earned an LLM from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2005.
Rana El-Kaliouby '98, '00
Co-founder and Chief Science Officer, Affectiva
Working for years as a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop ways for computers to be able to recognize human emotions based on facial cues or physiological responses, El-Kaliouby is currently the co-founder and chief science officer of Affectiva, an emotion measurement technology company that grew out of the MIT Media Lab. El-Kaliouby is also a founding member of the Autism Communication Technology Initiative at MIT. She co-founded Affectiva to apply and scale inventions in affective technologies, including the Affdex video-based expression recognition technology, which she invented. El-Kaliouby has been recently chosen by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women to Watch in 2014. She is also the 2012 recipient of Technology Review’s Top 35 Innovators Under 35 Award and was inducted into the Women in Engineering Hall of Fame. In 2006, The New York Times rated her research as one of the top 100 innovations of the year, and her work has been featured in Reuters,Wired, The Boston Globe and other prominent publications. She holds a bachelor's and master's in computer science from AUC, in addition to a PhD from the University of Cambridge.
Haifaa Al-Mansour '97
Saudi Arabia's First Female Filmmaker
Internationally recognized as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al-Mansour is the country's first female filmmaker. She was selected byForeign Policy among the top 100 global thinkers in 2013 “for quietly breaking the Kingdom’s gender barriers.” She is the director of the 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows and, most recently, the critically acclaimed movie Wadjda, which is the first film ever submitted by Saudi Arabia for Academy Award consideration. Al-Mansour is a graduate of AUC’s English and comparative literature department and completed a master's degree in directing and film studies from the University of Sydney. Even though her work is both praised and condemned for encouraging discussion on topics considered taboo, such as tolerance, the dangers of orthodoxy and the need to critically examine Saudi traditions, it has impacted a new generation of Saudi filmmakers and created fertile ground for discussions on the idea of opening cinemas in Saudi Arabia.