Frequently Asked Questions

Iranian Americans are one of the most successful immigrant groups in the United States. It is estimated that there are upwards of one million Iranians in the United States. They are dispersed throughout all fifty states but have large concentrations in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and other metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., Seattle, New York City, and Chicago. The majority of Iranian Americans came to the U.S. shortly before or after Iran’s 1979 revolution.

The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. We accomplish our mission through expert research and analysis, civic and policy education, and community building.

NIAC was founded in early 2002 by Alex Patico, Trita Parsi, Babak Talebi, and Farzin Illich as a 501(c)(3) non-profit education organization with the express mission to promote Iranian-American civic participation. Trita Parsi continues to work for NIAC as President. Alex Patico serves on NIAC’s Advisory Board.

NIAC is run by a talented team with critical experience in the governmental, non-profit, and for-profit sectors. The organization is steered by a Board of Directors made up of influential and diverse Iranian-American business, philanthropic, and community leaders. NIAC is also supported by a Board of Advisors made up of prominent leaders with a wide range of knowledge and expertise. NIAC also utilizes professional consultants, including an independent certified public accountant who prepares NIAC’s financial documents.

NIAC is dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. Since its inception in 2002, NIAC has worked to promote Iranian-American participation in American civic life. In 2015, NIAC’s sister organization, NIAC Action, was formed to ensure our community had the tools to secure peace and to advance the priorities of the Iranian-American community. Direct and grassroots advocacy work moved to NIAC Action at its founding, while NIAC continues to provide issue analysis, education, and community building activities.

Community: NIAC promotes an active and engaged Iranian-American community in the US and celebrates the community’s deep historical and cultural roots and traditions.

Democracy: NIAC encourages Iranian Americans to contribute to the long tradition of American democracy by being active, informed participants and responsible, engaged citizens. NIAC also supports the Iranian-American community’s aspirations for democracy in Iran.

Universal Rights: NIAC works to ensure that human rights are upheld in Iran and that civil rights are protected in the US. NIAC believes that the principles of universal rights – dignity, due process and freedom from violence – are the cornerstones of a civil society.

While NIAC encourages civic participation, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, NIAC cannot endorse or oppose any candidate running for elected office. NIAC’s sister organization, NIAC Action, is a 501(c)4 organization and thus may engage in some political activities. To learn more about NIAC Action and its work, please see NIAC Action’s website.

Since its inception in 2002, NIAC has given the Iranian-American community a powerful voice. NIAC’s sister grassroots advocacy organization, NIAC Action, was founded in 2015 to ensure our community had the tools to secure peace and to advance the priorities of the Iranian-American community. Direct and grassroots lobbying work moved to NIAC Action at its founding, while NIAC continues to provide issue analysis, education, and community building activities.

NIAC works to advance the interests of the Iranian-American community, as defined by Iranian Americans themselves. As a true grassroots organization, NIAC’s policy positions are guided by the results of our annual supporter survey. These membership surveys have consistently reflected the majority views of the Iranian American community, as measured by numerous national polls.

NIAC focuses on issues that are on the national agenda, like major legislation passing through Congress or the potential of a US-Iran war, and issues specific to the Iranian-American community.

NIAC receives support from the Iranian-American community and American foundations. NIAC does not receive funds from the Iranian government nor the United States government. Please see our Transparency in Governance and Finances report here for more detailed information.

An unfortunate reality in Washington is that groups and individuals often resort to baseless smears to try to discredit those who disagree with them. This is true in political elections and in many policy debates, especially anything related to Middle East policy.

Some individuals and groups opposed to NIAC’s work (and the viewpoints of the majority of Iranian Americans) have used these same tactics to try to silence NIAC and our grassroots supporters.

You can find our response to their politically motivated smears on our Myths vs. Facts page.

No. NIAC opposes war because it is not in the national interest of the United States. NIAC believes that war would impose tremendous suffering on both the American and Iranian people. NIAC also believes that war with Iran will most likely strengthen the most radical groups inside Iran and its government.

Public opinion polls of the American public and the Iranian-American community show consistent, strong opposition to war and support for diplomacy.

NIAC has been a vocal critic of the Iranian government’s human rights abuses for years, and was a leader in the campaign to establish an independent UN human rights monitor on Iran.

NIAC has actively worked to support human rights and has condemned the Iranian government’s record on human rights, including both prior to and after the June 2009 post-election crackdown. When NIAC made the decision to support peaceful solutions to the US-Iran conflict in 2007 based on a vote of our members, NIAC decided concurrently to also educate lawmakers and the general public on Iran’s human rights abuses.

NIAC’s latest work on human rights can be found here.

You can help NIAC and its mission both through financial support and by donating your time and efforts. You can become a NIAC supporter either by making a financial contribution or by volunteering for NIAC.

We welcome questions and comments. You can find our contact information or send us an email here.