Iranian Americans in Public Service
Iranians in Journalism
Iranian Americans in Tech
Iranians in the Arts
Foreign Policy & Iran
Personal Aide to the President of the United States
Ferial Govashiri served as Personal Aide to the 44th President of the United States. Ms. Govashiri began her political career in the Scheduling and Advance department in then Senator Barack Obama’s Chicago presidential campaign headquarters in 2007. Following the election, she was appointed to the National Security Council (NSC) as Senior Advisor to Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor. Next, she served as Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff and the Director of Visits at the NSC. In that capacity she assisted in planning President Obama’s foreign travel and oversaw arrangements for heads of state visiting the White House. After five years serving with the NSC, she was appointed to serve as Personal Aide to the President in 2014. Ms. Govashiri holds a degree in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine.
Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Shervin Hadjilou has been a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State since 2005. She currently works on Public Diplomacy in the Office of Iranian Affairs and is the Diaspora Liaison. For the past six years, she has been working on Iran-related civil society, human rights, and digital media freedom issues, for which she has received Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. Previously she served in the Bureau of Public Affairs, handling both domestic and international media for various State Department officials with a focus on Middle East issues. Prior to that, she worked in the Near Eastern Affairs Office of Press and Public Diplomacy conducting outreach to Arab and Iranian media outlets. Shervinfirst joined the Department as an intern on the Iraq Economic Desk while completing her Masters in International Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark University in Worcester, MA. Shervinis a native of Los Angeles, CA, and attended Immaculate Heart High School.
Matthew Saniie has a background leading national data and analytics programs focused on elections and civic engagement. At BlueLabs, he oversees a team of data scientists and strategists helping clients tackle pressing challenges ranging from creating data-driven strategies to win elections, to helping people obtain health insurance and raising awareness around key social issues. Matthew previously served as National Analytics Director at Enroll America, where he developed an analytics and data program to identify the uninsured, and advised President Obama’s campaign leadership during his reelection as the Battlegrounds States Elections Analyst responsible for Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. He is also a recipient of an analytics fellowship with Analyst Institute and provided guidance to the data programs of campaigns and state parties as a member of the DNC’s national data team.
U.N. Correspondent, BBC Persian
Born on the day of Iran's revolution (February 11, 1979), Bahman grew up in Isfahan, Iran.
He got involved in political activism in high school. He continued it when admitted to Isfahan University of Technology in 1997. This activism landed him in jail at age 20 in July of 1999 after student dorms were attacked. He spent 63 days in solitary and main jail of Isfahan's Dastgerd. A few months after his release, Bahman migrated to Toronto, Canada a few months and matriculated at New York University in 2001. After graduating with a degree in political science, Bahman returned to Iran to produce an amateur documentary about life in that country. The result was a short film piece that aired in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC. The piece won a medal in "New York Festivals" in 2005.
Subsequently, Bahman worked at the CBC as a producer and filed reports focused on Iran and Middle East. BBC Persian has had a radio program beaming to Iran for 70 years. In 2008, it added a TV program to its service. Bahman joined BBC Persian in August 2008 as the Washington Correspondent.
In 2010, he moved to NYC to be the UN Correspondent for BBC Persian. Since then, he has covered countless Iran-related stories and conducted interviews with President Barack Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Secretary John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, and other senior officials. He has covered many of the recent developments on Iran-U.S. relations, from the nuclear negotiations in New York to the historic phone call President Obama made to President Rouhani.
Producer and Host, Huffington Post
Born in London, Modarressy-Tehrani was raised in Watford. She attended Oxford University where she graduated with a Bachelors degree in English language and literature. After graduation, she went on to work for a number of British newspaper publications, including Prospect Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Mail On Sunday, where she was a staff reporter covering national news events, including the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Modarressy-Tehrani attended Columbia University's Journalism School in New York, where she completed a Masters of Science in Broadcast Journalism in 2012. She was the Financial Times columnist for the life and style 'Culture Corner' column, covering style and fashion in the arts. She has also contributed to The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair (online).
Modarressy-Tehrani joined The Huffington Post's new video network, HuffPost Live, as a producer. She was made a host in 2014 and works for the network out of the New York City headquarters. She hosts a weekly show about women's rights, #WMN w/@CaroMT. She describes her political views as liberal.
Kelly Golnoush Niknejad
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Tehran Bureau
Kelly Golnoush Niknejad is an award-winning journalist and media entrepreneur. She is founder and editor-in-chief of Tehran Bureau, which is hosted by The Guardian, and co-founder of the Iran Media Group, an upcoming financial and legal news service with a focus on Iran, and Medad, a news media lab.
Golnoush is the inaugural recipient of the Innovator Award from Columbia Journalism School for “inspiring, creating, developing, or implementing new ideas that further the cause of journalism.” She started her professional career as a lawyer in California, where she covered criminal courts, before proceeding to New York, where she earned two master’s degrees in journalism from Columbia University, the latter with an emphasis on politics and government.
Her work includes reporting for PBS/FRONTLINE, the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Time, Foreign Policy, California Lawyer, and the National. She has served as a moderator and panelist on discussions about digital journalism and Iranian politics at MIT, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Columbia University, Paley Center/Carnegie, and the Poynter Institute, among others.
Golnoush was born in Iran and moved to the United States when she was 17.
Narges Bani Asadi
Founder and CEO, Sina Technologies; VP and Life Cycle Leader, Sequencing Informatics, Roche Sequencing
Narges was born in Iran and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Tehran in Computer Engineering. She continued her PhD at Stanford University in Electrical Engineering. In graduate school she became interested in using computational methods and systems to analyze cancer and other complex diseases. Bani Asadi and her team won a multimillion dollar grant from the National Cancer Institute for their work. Upon graduation, she started her own company, Bina Technologies, in Silicon Valley. Bina’s products are being used today throughout the country by research institutes, pharmaceutical companies, and clinical institutions for analyzing and managing genomics information to accelerate the science of personalized medicine. Bani Asadi has led Bina through several successes, and recently sold the company to Roche, the largest biotechnology company in the world, to accelerate the product and company development. She is leading Roche Sequencing Informatics strategy in her new role at Roche.
Founder and Managing Partner, Cota Capital
Bobby Yazdani is Founder and Managing Partner of Cota Capital, a firm investing in private and public technology companies Bobby works full time on the development and support of entrepreneurs through Cota Capital.
Bobby has successfully mentored entrepreneurs and invested in over 100 early-stage startups including Aardvark, Addepar, Atheer Labs, Baarzo, BaseHealth, Bina Technologies, Bonobos, Canary, Clearspring, CleverSense, Dropbox, FundersClub, Google, GuardantHealth, HomeJoy, inDinero, InstaEdu, KeyChain Logistics, KissMetrics, Klout, Masimo, Medialets, NextBio (acq. by Illumina), OpenGov, PassBan, Salesforce.com, SoundHound, SweetGreen, Uber, Wash.io, ZenPayroll and more. Born in Tehran, Iran, Bobby completed high school in England and received a B.A. in Applied Mathematics at UC Berkeley.
Founder, Fictionville Studios
Hamid Rahmanian is a 2014 John Guggenheim Fellow. His work centers on film and graphic arts. His work has been exhibited in international competitions and publications. His narrative and documentary films have premiered at Venice, Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, and IDFA film festivals. He has won numerous international awards and his works have been televised on international networks, including PBS, Sundance Channel, IFC, Channel 4, BBC, DR2, and Al Jazeera. Mr. Rahmanian undertook the immense task of illustrating and commissioning a new translation and adaptation of the tenth-century Persian epic poem Shahnameh by Ferdowsi, entitled Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings. This best-selling 600-page art book, which the Wall Street Journal lauded as a “masterpiece,” was published by the Quantuck Lane Press. Recently, he created and directed the cinema-style shadow play performance, Feathers of Fire, which premiered at the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2016. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
CEO, BoomGen Studios
Mahyad Tousi is a writer, creative producer, and media strategist working across story formats, genres, and platforms. His work includes narrative and documentary features, interactive art and media, serialized television, as well as Indie and blockbuster motion pictures. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of BoomGen Studios, the premier incubator and entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Middle East, the cradle of storytelling. Tousi is an Executive Producer on the new ABC series Of Kings and Prophets—BoomGen Studios’ Television debut.
After several years of working in conflict zones as a cinematographer, and on award-winning documentaries such as “Blindsight,” “Wasteland,” and “Some Assembly Required,” Tousi produced the micro-budget features “Marvelous” with Oscar®-nominated Michael Shannon and Amy Ryan, and “Looking for Palladin” with the late acting legend Ben Gazzara and Oscar®-nominated Talia Shire. Tousi has consulted on Disney’s “Prince of Persia,” Julian Schnabel’s “Miral,” TLC’s “All American Muslim,” Netflix’s Emmy®-winning documentary “The Square,” Disney’s “Aladdin on Broadway,” Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater,” Relativity’s “Desert Dancer,” Open Road’s “Rock the Kasbah,” and Gini Reticker and Abby Disney’s “Trials of Spring.”
Tousi speaks internationally on storytelling and the designed convergence of mass-entertainment, interactive media, and social impact. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.
Deputy Chairman, Middle East & Gulf Region, Southeby's International Realty; Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Greater London (appointed by Her Majesty the Queen)
Harvard and Oxford educated, Roxane Zand began a career in museum and arts administration after three years in UNESCO. She left Iran after the Revolution to resume professional activities in London in the field of education and the arts, and as one of the founding members of the Harvard Club of London. Ms. Zand was an officer of the Iran Heritage Foundation before moving to Asia House, as well as a freelance consultant for numerous projects for the British Museum and elsewhere in the art world before joining Sotheby’s in 2006 where she is now Deputy Chairman for the Middle East.
Currently she sits on the Advisory Council of the Pictet Art Prize, the Development Board of the University of the Arts London, and has been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London for her services to Middle Eastern art and culture. She is also arts editor for the Encyclopedia Islamica. At Sotheby’s she has played an instrumental role in developing and contributing to sales of Arab and Iranian art, and has conducted a number of charity auctions to benefit causes in the MENA region.
CEO, Iran Industries Investment Company
Reza Soltanzadeh is the CEO of Iran Industries Investment company (IIIC), a diversified investment holding company based in Tehran. Founded in 1994, IIIC has a portolio of publicly listed companies in Banking, Petrochemicals, Food & Cement industries. Boursiran Securities, the largest Asset Manager and a leading securities Brokerage in the country is a subsidiary of IIIC. Reza Soltanzadeh is a non executive Board Member at Middle East Bank and Iran Leasing Company. He is also a member of Foreign Invesment Committee at the Tehran Stock Exchange. Reza Soltanzadeh holds a Doctorate of Medicine from Manipal University and an Executive MBA from UCLA.
Former British Ambassador to the United States, France and Turkey
Sir Peter Westmacott, former British Ambassador to the United States, is a senior fellow with Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center and also a resident fellow with the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.
Westmacott served as British Ambassador to the United States from January 2012 to January 2016. Prior to his position as Ambassador to the United States, Westmacott served as Ambassador to France from 2007-2012, and Ambassador to Turkey from 2002-2006. Westmacott’s 40 year career in the British Diplomatic Service has also included four years in Iran (before the Revolution) and an interim deployment to the European Commission in Brussels. Previously, he was the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Director for the Americas from 1997-2000 before taking a seat on the board as Deputy Under Secretary. From 1990-1993, he was Deputy Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.