As a producer for HLN (formerly CNN Headline News), Natasha Ali MA1997 has worked on developing and launching new programming for the 24-hour news network. She was previously a producer for the network’s popular television program Showbiz Tonight.
Shortly after arriving in Madison to pursue her graduate degree, Ali became the minority adviser for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She sought out students of color to offer them encouragement to continue pursuing careers in journalism — an industry in which minorities are significantly underrepresented. “My office was a safe haven to laugh, cry, and talk when being a person of color on the mostly white UW campus seemed overwhelming,” she says.
Those chats helped her adjust to Madison, too, and they propelled her toward her first TV news job. While maintaining a full course load, volunteering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and winning the UW’s Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, Ali was also the producer of the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. weekend newscasts on WKOW-TV in Madison. She moved on to Madison’s WISC-TV after graduating, and by age 24, she was a newsroom leader.
In 1998, her dream of working in New York City became a reality. She started working at NY1, New York’s 24-hour news channel, and then for ABC Television’s World News Weekend.
Ali, who is a 2013 recipient of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 Award, also focuses on giving back. When she was in high school, her life was transformed by an organization called A Better Chance (ABC), which places promising students of color in college prep schools or communities with exceptional public high schools. ABC sent her from Brooklyn, New York, to an upstate school in Manlius to finish her education, and she remains an active supporter of the organization today.
In 2010, she became a member of the board of visitors for UW–Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she says she is excited “to contribute to Madison and the UW once again as a mentor.”