NIAC Welcomes Four New Board Members

Washington DC – NIAC is honored to welcome four new members to its Board of Directors: Marsha Ershaghi, Kaveh Maleknia, Kamyar Molavi and Dokhi Fassihian. With backgrounds in public policy, business, and law, these distinguished individuals represent a diversity of perspectives on the challenges facing the Iranian-American community. They are all united, however, by a common vision of this community’s potential and a solid commitment to its progress. The new members will serve a two-year term on NIAC's Board of Directors.

In interviews with NIAC staff, each incoming board member identified several key challenges that the Iranian-American community will face as it comes of age politically.

Marsha Ershagi, Director of Professional Services Engagements for the business consulting firm LRN, pointed to the need for our community to "play an active role in cleaning up the negative image portrayals in the media" so that the cultural narrative on Iranian Americans is not written by outsiders.

Real estate specialist Kaveh Maleknia stressed the importance of a mobilized youth to the community's future success adding that "setting up workshops, creating an atmosphere for them to exchange ideas, and [setting up] speaking engagements at colleges are only a few ideas worth exploring."

Kaymar Molavi, an attorney specializing in construction law and litigation emphasized the role NIAC must play in encouraging greater trust among Iranian Americans for the institutions of civil society. "The more successful NIAC is, the more important and more challenging it will be to remain and be viewed as independent and unbeholden." Molavi was not alone in his assertion that greater unity and trust in civil society are critical to the progress of the Iranian American community. In fact, this point was underscored by each of the four new board members.

Dokhi Fassihian, a senior policy associate at the Democracy Coalition Project and a former Executive Director at NIAC characterized the problem by describing Iranian Americans as "brilliant alone, but ineffective together."She expressed hope that times are changing, however. "Today, we have the advantage of living in a democratic country with the opportunity to learn and practice the organizational skills necessary for becoming successful as a group. We should take this task seriously."

Ershagi also addressed the community's need to shift from a focus on solely individual success to one of collective impact. Regardless of our community's deep-seated misgivings about political participation, Ershagi says, "This baggage needs to be dropped and Iranian Americans need to lift their heads and focus on bridge building."

Maleknia's call for a significant expansion of NIAC's membership also reflects a concern for increased unity and trust. In his analysis, sheer numbers will be critical to acquiring a higher degree of civic and political potency for NIAC and Iranian Americans. Maleknia acknowledges that NIAC's influence within the Iranian American community has grown considerably in recent years, but believes that in order to have a meaningful influence on American society as a whole, NIAC will have to expand. "Patiently, we need to increase NIAC membership drastically, to have a strong voice; to be a force."

What all these remarks seem to demonstrate is a recognition that collective progress – on any front – requires a fundamental faith in the power of collaboration and organization. NIAC's ability to bring Iranian American voices to bear on the issues of foreign policy, civil rights, and media integrity will ultimately depend on the trust, support, and participation of the community.

As NIAC welcomes the new additions to its board of directors and shows great faith in their ability to realize their vision for both the organization and the community at large, NIAC also thanks off its outgoing Board members: Shahri Estakhri, Dr. Ali Dabiri and Mojtaba Akbarzadeh. NIAC's remarkable growth in the past two years is to no small part due to the hard work and relentless efforts of Shahri, Mojtaba and Ali.

To learn more about NIAC's new board members, click here.

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