The National Iranian American Council is pleased to announce the newest additions to its Board of Directors for the 2014-2016 term: Nobar Elmi, Ahmad Kiarostami, Kaveh Mirani and Ahmad Shams. Each of these individuals has demonstrated tremendous talent and leadership in various sectors including business, government, technology, and arts. Their strong track records of achievement and vision, combined with their shared consistent commitments to the Iranian-American community, makes them ideal additions to our team.
Former NIAC Outreach Director Nobar Elmi will be rejoining the NIAC family in a new role on our Board. During her two year tenure on NIAC’s staff Elmi left a major mark, initiating several critical NIAC initiatives and traditions including theAnnual Leadership Conference, Ambassador Program, and National Day of Service. Elmi currently works as a Business Writer at the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), where she helps conduct new initiatives and programs. In addition to having made strides in the non-profit and private sectors, Elmi also has significant experience in government affairs. She formerly served as Legislative Liaison for the Texas General Land Office and worked at a leading public affairs and lobbying firm in Los Angeles. Speaking about her continued involvement with the Iranian-American community and interest in joining NIAC’s Board, Elmi stated, “What’s most exciting to me is simply the ability to galvanize the Iranian-American community to speak up, be heard, and take actions.”
Ahmad Kiarostami has had an impressive and varied career, having made extraordinary professional accomplishments in both arts and technology. As the founder of three companies, including two of the first multimedia and online production companies in Iran, he has consistently shown a talent for innovation and entrepreneurship. Kiarostami has also taken leadership roles at Microsoft Middle-East, developed full-text search technology for Persian content and served as a board member of the San Francisco Cinemathèque. In addition, Kiarostami has produced and directed numerous popular music videos for top Iranian artists including Googoosh, 127 and Hamed Nikpay.
Before joining NIAC’s Board, Kiarostami already demonstrated tremendous leadership as a NIAC volunteer. In his role as the Chair of NIAC’s Bay Area Executive Team’s Arts & Culture Subcommittee, Kiarostami initiated a program called Docunight. This monthly Iranian documentary series began in San Francisco and quickly grew to other cities such as Los Angeles, Vancouver, Dubai, and New York. Given his longstanding interest in arts and culture, Kiarostami explains that what motivates him most about next steps at NIAC is his hope “to bring some cultural aspects into our political activities.”
Kaveh Mirani is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in both the textile and hospitality industries. A well-known figure in the Chicago area for owning the popular French restaurant Mirani’s, Mirani also serves as president of Winnetka Foods Inc, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Winnetka Chamber of Commerce. Before his current role, Mirani was a professor of Economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the School of Business at Miami University of Ohio.
When asked what motivated him to join NIAC’s Board of Directors, Mirani stated his recent trip to Iran heavily influenced his decision: “The economy was in shambles and extreme poverty was visible in all strata of the society. Iran was hurting, Iranians were suffering, helpless and in need of assistance from voices outside of Iran.” A longtime advocate for improving the lives of ordinary Iranians, Mirani co-founded the Iran Committee for Democratic Action and Human Rights and worked as a senior analyst for the Development and Investment Bank of Iran. By joining NIAC’s Board, he hopes to help improve the lives of ordinary Iranians by working to advance NIAC’s promotion of diplomacy and peace between the US and Iran.
Ahmad Shams is the founder and Chairman of Merex Inc., a major international logistics company that manufactures components for military aircrafts around the world. During his spare time Shams gives back to the community by playing an active leadership role in various local non-profits, such as the International Society for Children with Cancer (ISCC), the US arm of the Iranian NGO Mahak. Shams also serves as Vice Chairman of Regenerate, is a Paul Harris Fellow at the Rotary Club International, and manages the Shams Foundation as a means to fund various charitable and non-profit organizations.
Shams’ decision to join NIAC’s Board was shaped by his fundamental belief in NIAC’s main objectives of diplomacy and the improvement of human rights issues within Iran. In his new role, Shams hopes to further raise awareness of NIAC’s goals, objectives and community events: “I believe that my contacts, business skills, and reach into the Iranian community within the US — as well as in Iran — can help promote NIAC’s goals and objectives.”
We are thrilled to welcome such an accomplished, diverse, and engaged group of Iranian Americans to NIAC’s Board! We look forward to working together to progress and advance our community’s interests, and shaping a better future for Iranian Americans.