An important message regarding the future of NIAC from President & co-founder, Trita Parsi:
The last seventeen years in which I have led NIAC have been the most rewarding of my professional life. I couldn’t be any prouder of what we have built together at NIAC – and how far we have come in giving Iranian Americans a seat at the table and a respected voice in Washington: for this I am deeply grateful to you.
On this anniversary, time has come for us to take the next step in our organization’s growth. After seventeen years of serving as NIAC’s President, I am passing the reins to NIAC’s next leader Jamal Abdi, NIAC’s current Vice President for Policy. While I will always remain committed to NIAC, the next chapter for me will allow me to focus more on the US’s broader foreign policy in the Middle East.
Over the summer, I will transition out of my role as president of NIAC. On August 1, Jamal will officially take over as NIAC’s new leader. I will continue working at NIAC through the end of 2018 to support Jamal and the entire team with the transition, as well as with the numerous political challenges our community is facing.
Though leading the organization has at times been tough, it has nevertheless been an absolute privilege to be at NIAC and to be part of the political blossoming of our community.
When I interned on Capitol Hill 21 years ago, I was shocked to find out that our community had no voice. In fact, most members of Congress believed that a group supporting war and sanctions was the representative of our community. I realized that unless we raised our voices, others would speak for us.
Two decades later, Iranian Americans are running for Congress, organizing rallies, showing thought leadership, and perhaps most importantly, when the United States was on the brink of war, our community raised its voice and helped make peace possible.
We have indeed come a long way. When we incorporated NIAC in early 2002, we had a handful of donors and a starting budget of $60,000. Today, we have a mailing list of more than 70,000 people, a $2,000,000+ operating budget and a talented staff of former Capitol Hill staffers, State department officials, and community organizers.
I’m not going to lie – it is never easy to take a step back from something you have invested so much of yourself into for so many years. I have commented to staff that this is bittersweet, similar to a proud parent sending their child off to college. But more than anything, I am proud we have reached this important milestone. One of the most important tests of an organization’s sustainability is when its founder is able to step away. This transition is an affirmation that NIAC is a durable institution and is bigger than any one person.
That is, after all, where our greatest strength is beyond the membership: our staff. We have been fortunate enough to be able to attract some of the smartest, most committed and hardest working leaders to the organization.
Among our staff, Jamal has shown tremendous leadership and strategic acumen over the past decade, which is why the Board and I have offered him the privilege to lead NIAC.
Jamal joined our team nearly 10 years ago, after having served on Capitol Hill as a foreign policy advisor for several years. I cannot do justice to the difference he’s made to the organization and our community. Without him, we would never have been able to help win the battle on the Hill regarding the Iran nuclear deal, nor would we have been able to establish our early warning system in Congress – or our extensive coalition building in Washington.
Over the next several months, Jamal and I will continue to work closely together and he will have the opportunity to outline his vision for the next chapter in our organization’s growth. And while I won’t be on staff in 2019, I will continue to be involved and fully committed to the organization, but through a different role.
I want to say thank you for this opportunity and for your continued commitment to NIAC. We still have a war to prevent and a Muslim ban to rescind – and we have to ensure that at all times, our community has a strong voice and a dedicated seat at the table.
I hope that you will join me in ensuring that Jamal and the staff have the support and resources that they need to take our community’s voice to the next level!
President and co-founder