Laila Hourani is a senior program officer based in the foundation’s Cairo office. Her grant making is centered in the arts, culture, and media and focuses on amplifying the power of cultural expression to build inclusive narratives that enhance civic engagement. In recent years, Laila's grants have included support to Syrian civil society organizations engaged in sustaining the artistic productivity of Syrians, providing art education services to Syrian refugee communities, and memorializing the Syrian conflict for global sharing and learning on the human cost of war and forced migration. She has also sought to advance social justice by supporting the work of emerging and established filmmakers.
Before joining Ford in 2011, Laila was based in Syria and led the development of strategy for the British Council’s arts and culture work in the Near East and North Africa. Among her many achievements at the British Council were co-curation of the Cultural Program at the London Book Fair Arab World Market Focus in 2008 and initiation of the New Writing for Theater Program, which seeded a new generation of playwrights in the Arab region and culminated in publication of the anthology Plays from the Arab World (Nick Herns Books, 2010), for which Laila wrote the introduction.
Laila has served as a board and jury member in key organizations, including Landscapes of Hope (advisory board), Cultural Resource, Ettijahat-Independent Culture, the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Citizens for Dialogue program, and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC). She studied Russian language and specialized in TV journalism at Moscow State University (1988-94). Her debut novel, Baoh, was published by the acclaimed Beirut-based Al Adab in 2009.