Headshots for Hanaa Rifaey, Liz Leith and Trevor Knoblich

ONA welcomes Hanaa Rifaey as Head of Strategic Partnerships, adds two positions on the new executive team

By on December 20, 2023

The Online News Association (ONA), a global membership organization advancing technology innovation and leadership development in journalism, is pleased to announce that Hanaa Rifaey is joining the executive team as Head of Strategic Partnerships. Hanaa has collaborated with ONA as a consultant for nearly eight years, cultivating a range of effective partnerships among technology and media organizations. Additionally, ONA announced an internal promotion for Liz Leith, CPA, to Head of Finance and Administration, while Trevor Knoblich assumes the new role of Head of Operations and Culture.

Hanaa brings significant experience in nonprofit leadership, strategic planning, fundraising and communications strategy. As a Partnerships Consultant, she worked directly with outgoing Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer Jessica Strelitz to position ONA as the leading hub for journalism and technology leaders to showcase their work, strategically evaluate emerging trends and spark collaborations and influential connections.

In 2013, Hanaa founded the boutique consulting group Press Forward LLC and has served as a strategic advisor to numerous national and local clients such as the Association for Alternative Newsmedia, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington and Greater Good Strategy. Before that, she was the President and Publisher of The American Independent News Network (AINN). Hanaa also has an impressive history of grassroots leadership and community engagement, contributing to campaigns focused on advancing environmental sustainability, voter engagement and more throughout her career.

With the departure of Jessica Strelitz, Hanaa will lead strategic partnerships for ONA. Schedule a time to chat with Hanaa via Calendly or connect by email at hanaa@journalists.org.

“I am excited to continue my journey with ONA, championing the organization’s unique positioning at the intersection of tech and media. I will continue to be a champion for collaborative learning opportunities, and love connecting ONA with the new organizations looking to support the growth and development of the digital news landscape,” said Hanaa Rifaey, Head of Strategic Partnerships

Liz has been instrumental to ONA’s financial health and internal capacity since joining the team in 2020. With expertise in financial management, tax compliance, auditing and operations, she guided ONA through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including navigating the legal implications of becoming a fully remote team. Liz also has helped shape ONA’s fiscal sponsorship of The Pivot Fund, a venture philanthropy organization that to date has raised more than $4 million to support local news. As part of the executive leadership, Liz will continue to be a steward for ONA’s financial sustainability to ensure the association meets the evolving needs of the journalism community.

“We are marking 25 years of ONA in 2024! I’m especially excited to work with LaSharah Bunting and the rest of the team to build an even stronger organization for this next chapter. We are developing the next strategic plan and working to set sound and ambitious goals that will create positive change for our members for years to come,” said Liz Leith, Head of Finance and Administration

Trevor has played a key role in all aspects of ONA’s work for nearly a decade, including the expansion of training programs, ONA’s technology infrastructure and shaping policies and processes to promote an inclusive work culture. In his new role, Trevor will focus on enhancing organization-wide goal setting, improving performance management and developing operational strategies. He will work closely with other members of the leadership team on strategic planning and foster an effective and engaged Board of Directors in support of ONA’s mission.

“Being part of ONA is an incredible honor. I have watched this team transform news leadership and strategic adoption of technology. It will be an exciting new challenge to focus on supporting such a committed, talented group of colleagues,” said Trevor Knoblich, Head of Operations and Culture

About ONA. The Online News Association was founded in 1999 as a forum for digital news pioneers to collaborate on common challenges and encourage the highest journalistic standards. ONA delivers year-round training and resources around emerging technology, hosts the annual Online News Association conference (ONA24 — Sept. 18-21 in Atlanta) and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

Membership includes journalists, technologists, executives, students, educators and other digital media professionals. Become an ONA member to sustain the mission to inspire and support innovation and excellence in digital journalism. To learn about the latest opportunities, subscribe to the ONA Weekly newsletter and join the ONA Slack community.


Karolle Rabarison

Karolle Rabarison is ONA's Director of Communications. She collaborates across the team to connect ONA members and the broader journalism community to emerging tech and leadership training, networking, industry trends, and career development resources.