Isha Sesay

NEW EXCLUSIVE
  • Peabody Award-Winning Journalist and Former Host for CNN
  • Founder & President, W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead
  • First Female CEO, OkayMedia
  • Author of 'Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram'



Award-winning journalist, media executive, and author Isha Sesay has been covering global events and major breaking news for over a decade, with a focus on stories of social injustice and their impact on women and girls. Sesay is the CEO of OkayMedia, a media company dedicated to Black culture and uplifting Black voices, and serves on the board of directors. Previously, the celebrated journalist spent more than a decade with CNN International as an anchor and correspondent. Sesay led the CNN team that covered the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school in Chibok in 2014. CNN’s in-depth reporting was recognized with a Peabody Award, and Sesay received a Gracie Award for her coverage. Her painstakingly detailed account, Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram, is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Whether offering insights about the intersections of race and gender in the media, global events, or her significant advocacy work, Sesay’s perspective makes an impact with audiences of all kinds.

Sesay is the Founder and President of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead, a non-profit organization working in her native country of Sierra Leone to nurture and empower teen girls to become Africa’s next generation of dynamic female leaders. She serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN’s reproductive health and rights agency. As the host of the podcast The Accidental Activist, Sesay moderates riveting conversations with cultural icons who are united by their motivation to make a difference in the world. In addition, she has moderated and hosted events with groups such as the Gates Foundation, Coca Cola, The Obama White House, The World Bank, MasterCard Foundation, Women Deliver, and Brilliant Minds. She has been sought-after for talks with groups like Untitled Future, The Brookings Institution, the Global Citizen Festival, among many others.

 

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A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Isha Sesay
  • East Bay Women's Conference
  • Untitled Future
  • The Brookings Institution
  • Global Citizen Festival
  • She's the First Summit
  • Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau
  • Brilliant Minds Foundation
  • Women Deliver Global Conference
  • Harrisburg Book Festival
  • Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) Place for Peace Event
Late Show - Highlighting Boko Haram’s Victims in “Beneath the Tamarind Tree” | The Daily Show [5:35] - Get Sharable Link
Explore Talks By Isha Sesay
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Women’s Empowerment: Thinking and Leading Globally

Award-winning journalist Isha Sesay has been covering global events for over a decade with a focus on stories of social injustice and their impact on women and girls. Drawing on her work as the Founder and President of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead, a non-profit in her native country of Sierra Le ...

Award-winning journalist Isha Sesay has been covering global events for over a decade with a focus on stories of social injustice and their impact on women and girls. Drawing on her work as the Founder and President of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead, a non-profit in her native country of Sierra Leone working to empower Africa’s next generation of dynamic female leaders, as well as her role with the UN’s Population Fund, Sesay brings a global perspective to conversations about women’s empowerment, motivating audiences of all kinds to consider their role as advocates and leaders in this impactful talk.

Author Talk: ‘Beneath the Tamarind Tree’

Inspired by her heartbreaking and hopeful first book, Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram, celebrated journalist Isha Sesay shares insights about her work leading the award-winning CNN team that covered the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigeria ...

Inspired by her heartbreaking and hopeful first book, Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram, celebrated journalist Isha Sesay shares insights about her work leading the award-winning CNN team that covered the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school in Chibok in 2014. As the only journalist on the ground who traveled home with a number of the girls, Sesay’s reporting and powerful storytelling offers analysis of the regional and global political forces at play, the role of media, and centers on the importance of elevating the stories of the girls themselves to lead the international conversation.

International Current Events: What’s at Stake

Award-winning journalist and author Isha Sesay has been covering major global events and breaking news for over a decade, offering incomparable analysis of the forces at play as well as the impact of race and gender in media coverage and storytelling. With a unique focus on stories of social injusti ...

Award-winning journalist and author Isha Sesay has been covering major global events and breaking news for over a decade, offering incomparable analysis of the forces at play as well as the impact of race and gender in media coverage and storytelling. With a unique focus on stories of social injustice and their impact on women and girls, Sesay’s sought-after commentary has elevated conversations and panels with her incisive insights and commitment to centering marginalized voices.

The Role of Race & Gender in Media, and What That Means

Celebrated and award-winning journalist Isha Sesay spent over a decade covering breaking global news stories for CNN International, and now serves as the CEO of OkayMedia. Sesay has offered nuanced and insightful analysis in her reporting, including powerful interviews with changemakers, heads of st ...

Celebrated and award-winning journalist Isha Sesay spent over a decade covering breaking global news stories for CNN International, and now serves as the CEO of OkayMedia. Sesay has offered nuanced and insightful analysis in her reporting, including powerful interviews with changemakers, heads of state, and more, bringing a focus to stories of injustice and their impact on women and girls. Drawing on her own experience as a Black woman on a major network, as well as her in-depth reporting of complex global crises, Sesay speaks to the role of race and gender in media storytelling and the impact representation has on politics, communities, and society in this enlightening talk.

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Biography

Seasoned and award-winning journalist Isha Sesay, who spent 13 years at CNN International as an anchor and reporter, is the new CEO of OkayMedia, a media company dedicated to Black culture and uplifting Black voices. Sesay has also been appointed to the OkayMedia board of directors. Sesay is also the Founder, and President of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead, a non-profit organization working in her native country of Sierra Leone, to nurture and empower teenage girls to become Africa’s next generation of dynamic female leaders. 

In 2005, she joined CNN International as an anchor and correspondent. Sesay has covered global events and major breaking news of the past decade, with a focus on stories of social injustice and their impact on women and girls. As part of her anchoring and reporting duties, Sesay’s impressive roster of interviews include numerous global leaders - the Prime Ministers of Kenya and Australia, as well as the Presidents of Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, and a host of newsmakers including Nancy Pelosi, David Beckham, Bill Gates, Bono, Richard Branson, Matt Damon, Michelle Obama, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates - Wangari Maathai, Malala Yousafzai, Leymeh Gbowee, and Denis Mukwege.

Reporting from Nigeria in 2014, Sesay led the CNN team that covered the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls. CNN’s in-depth reporting was recognized with a Peabody Award. Sesay was awarded a Gracie Award for Outstanding Anchor for her coverage of this story, in addition to other accolades during her tenure at CNN.

Sesay’s definitive account and first book, Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram (Dey Street Books) published in July 2019. The paperback edition of the book was released in April of 2020. She lives in Los Angeles.

Of Sierra Leonean descent, Sesay grew up in Britain and holds a B.A. honors English degree from Trinity College, Cambridge University.