CINCINNATI — Shakila Ahmad is probably best known in southwest Ohio for being the first woman to serve as president and board chair of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati.
But she’s also the first-born daughter of a first-born daughter who has generations of strong women in her family as role models.
“I think seeing strong Muslim women was the No. 1 thing that, you know what, women can do whatever they want to do, and the religion in no way holds them back,” Ahmad said. “It was that strong foundation and the belief that there’s absolutely nothing in the faith that would keep me from being a leader in the Muslim community to, you know, being a leader in the professional community or the civic community for that matter.”
She talked with WCPO about the power of family, the value of education and the importance of leaving a better world for future generations as part of an audio story series called Ohio Values.
The idea behind the series is to give local, national and global audiences insight into what matters to Ohio voters in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
To create Ohio Values, journalists from six news outlets spent the past several months interviewing Ohio voters throughout the state to get their perspectives.
All interviews were conducted using the story-gathering tool A Picture’s Worth, where voters selected a photograph that is important to them and then discussed the photo and the values they hold dear.
WCPO published two Ohio Values stories earlier this year.
The Cincinnati Herald, a WCPO media partner, also has published Ohio Values stories about local voters. Those stories are available here.
For Ahmad's audio story, she chose a photo that includes five generations in her family – her grandmother, her mother, herself, her daughter and her daughter’s baby boy.
“It’s very iconic in the sense that it has five generations of one family and all but one of them are females that are matriarchs of the family in the sense that they’re all first-born children, and they happen to be females,” she said. “It was taken Jan. 1st of 2020. It seems like a lifetime ago.”
Listen to the full audio story below: