National Iranian American Council Opens Its Doors
"Among Iranian-Americans, there are Fortune 500 Company CEOs, a large network of doctors, major players in the information technology revolution, thousands of university professors and world-class engineers, but our voices are not being heard in the critical American civil society debates," said Babak Talebi, a founding member of NIAC. "We hope to empower Iranian-Americans to help them broadcast their voice, whatever position they may wish to take," he said.
Some of NIAC's first projects include an ongoing voter-registration drive, the creation of a comprehensive database on Iranian-American organizations in the US, educational workshops for Iranian-American organizations enhancing their ability to serve the needs of their community, the production of literature detailing Iranian-American success stories, surveys to assess the needs and wants of the community.
"Our community is educated, affluent, dynamic, and professionally successful," said Trita Parsi, the acting President of the organization. "However, we have yet to harness our immense human potential into constructive engagement in American civil society. In order to accomplish this goal, we hope to build capacity in our community through educational programs, workshops, and general community-building," he added.
During the recent Iranian New Year holiday, celebrated by hundreds of thousands of Iranian-Americans in public parks across the country, NIAC volunteers registered Iranian-Americans to vote. "Voting is only the first step towards full participation in the US society. In order to be noted for the incredible contributions we have made and continue to make to the greatness of this country and to be heard, we must participate in our local parties, serve on our neighborhood associations and school PTAs.", said Newsha Moraveji, a consultant to NIAC.
Local government officials support NIAC's efforts. "Ethnic groups in America, such as Iranian-Americans, should register to vote to be part of the community and have a part in selecting who represents them, whether it be Board of Education members or members of Congress", argues Betty Ann Lucey, Registration Manager of the Board of Elections in Montgomery County, Maryland.
The National Iranian American Council believes that Iranian-Americans have the ability to play a key role in American civil society with the same levels of success and professionalism that they have played in American economic, academic, technological and scientific life.
"In big ways and small, Iranian-Americans have woven themselves into the fabric of American life. We at NIAC hope to help tighten the knots already woven and help create new patterns that would forever solidify the Iranian-American patch of the great American quiltwork," said Parsi.