Washington, DC – NIAC proudly welcomes Prof. Hamid Dabashi and Prof. Scott Lucas to the Advisory Board, and Dr. Paymaun Lotfi, Prof. Karim Pakravan, Dr. Forough Parvizian-Yazdani, and Nora Valenzuela to NIAC’s Board of Directors.
These six exceptional individuals bring decades of experience and unique backgrounds to the organization. They are all dedicated to promoting Iranian-American civic participation and political engagement and strengthening the community’s voice in the nation’s capital – not only for the benefit of today’s Iranian Americans, but for future generations to come.
Dr. Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Literature at Columbia University in New York, is an internationally renowned cultural critic and award-winning author, a public speaker around the globe, a current affairs essayist, and a staunch anti-war activist. He is a frequent contributor to CNN.com and the host of “The Week in Green,” a program dedicated to supporting Iran’s Green Movement.
“NIAC is important because the growing Iranian-American community needs a national forum for social and political representation,” states Dr. Dabashi. “This is particularly crucial for the young generation; I have four children – all born and raised here – and I look at them and think of the thousands like them and the pride of place they must have in this country. NIAC is not about me and my generation. It is about them and their future.”
Alabama native Dr. Scott Lucas, Professor of American Studies at University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, states, “NIAC provides a place for Iranian Americans to express their views, raise their concerns, and be recognized. Unless you’re talking about ‘The Iran Issue,’ we don’t hear much about Iranian Americans in the general American media. We get a really 2-D view of them if we’re not either a member or close affiliate of the community.”
A specialist in US and British foreign policy, Dr. Lucas has written and edited nine books, more than 40 major articles, and a radio documentary, and co-directed the 2007 film Laban! He is the co-creator and editor of Enduring America, a cutting-edge blog on US politics and international affairs with a particular emphasis on coverage of Iran.
“Over the last 20 years I’ve too often heard some academics/politicians talk about a ‘clash’ of civilizations, economics, politics, etc. I don’t like that polarized approach,” he said. “Let’s head for a new way that leads us out of the idea that one side wins and one side loses.”
Dr. Paymaun Lotfi is an orthopedic surgeon in Northern Virginia. An active member of his community, he is currently leading a team of Metro Washington, DC Area Iranian Americans towards building a community center. This team brings together a diversity of individuals from across the political spectrum in pursuit of a center for culture, knowledge and community.
“As a community we’ve accomplished so much over the past 30 years we’ve been here, but we need to reflect that politically as a force. Not just for us but for our kids,” he said. “It’s a privilege to join NIAC’s Board of Directors – they are one of the few organizations in this country who are making a real difference in ensuring that our voices are heard.”
Dr. Lotfi has authored numerous papers on orthopedic surgery, as well as spinal surgery. He has also participated in instructional seminars demonstrating advanced surgical techniques. He is the recipient of numerous scientific awards in fields of basic science and biology as well as clinical orthopedics.
Dr. Karim Pakravan is Associate Professor of Finance at DePaul University in Chicago. He returned to academia after a 25-year career as a senior strategist in global financial markets. He is a recognized specialist in leading-edge applied macroeconomic and financial research on currencies and emerging markets, country risk assessment and modeling in an enterprise-wide risk management context, as well as international financial architecture.
“NIAC is the first organization of its kind that is attuned to the way the American political scene works and is also uniquely placed to mobilize the energies of Iranian Americans – particularly the younger generations who are bicultural,” Dr. Pakravan, a leader in the Chicago community, states. “I look forward to being effective in promoting the interests of the community as well as the Iranian people, particularly in the area of human rights.”
Dr. Forough Parvizian-Yazdani, a dentist in Northern Virginia, is a very active member of the Metro Washington, DC Iranian-American community, often hosting events at her home. She coaches two soccer teams, leads her daughter’s Girl Scout troop and is active on the PTA. She served on the Smithsonian’s Nowruz Organizing Committee for 2008 and 2009. She recently joined the board of MedicalVibe Foundation, whose primary goal is to provide humanitarian, medial missions in the United States and internationally.
“The existence and purpose of NIAC is of utmost importance for the Iranian-American community. By being involved and having a voice, you are being a responsible member of your community, nation and world,” says Dr. Yazdani. “The organization gets its personality through its members and I can only imagine what we can accomplish with greater involvement! Nobody can dispute “power in numbers.” Our community needs to make a statement and share our many talents with American society – this is the American way!”
“I am honored to be a part an organization that helps me be a more responsible citizen of the United States while preserving my Iranian heritage.”
Nora Valenzuela, former President of Network of Iranian-American Professionals of Orange County (NIPOC), remains active in NIPOC as a senior member of the organization’s Advisory Board. In 1999, Nora received the Governor’s Community Service Award and in 2007 accepted the Congressional Merit Award from Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez on behalf of the Mehregan Organizing Committee. She has served on the board of a number of national organizations and is a strong supporter of civic participation. She currently holds the position of the Program Manager, PMO at Riverside County Information Technology.
“Besides having an active voice on Capitol Hill, where key decisions are made, NIAC needs our support at a grassroots level in the different parts of the US. I felt I could make contributions in helping NIAC by sharing the vision and the goals of the organization on a local level,” Valenzuela said. “NIAC needs the support of other Iranian American organizations and the community as a whole to be able to effectively advocate on our behalf. It’s crucial that the community help and participate.”
“I look forward to learning from the distinguished individuals involved in the organization from different sectors of the community. Also being able to share my experiences and collectively be able to make a contribution into the preservation of NIAC.”