The Iranian American Civic Leadership Program was created to build a community that prioritizes civic participation. Historically, Iranian Americans have had low voter turnout and engagement with the political process resulting in a lack of a unified voice.
To fill this gap, the Civic Leadership Program empowers young Iranian Americans to become civic leaders through education, funding, training, and mentorship opportunities. This program supports Iranian American high schoolers, college students, and recent graduates to make a positive impact in their communities.
The Iranian American Civic Leadership Program is an independent initiative run by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA).
At the center of Nazie Eftekhari’s personal and professional universe stand four pillars that underpin every decision: family, community, company, and country. Together, those foundational cornerstones have supported and informed a path that started four decades ago and today sees her as one of the leading businesswomen in the United States’ private healthcare sector.
Ms. Eftekhari has been a consistent innovator and challenger of industry standards for the last 40 years, first as the founder of the Araz Group and then as founder and CEO of HealthEZ. Today, HealthEZ is a cutting-edge health insurance company that offers services designed to simplify health plan administration for employers while eliminating the complexities in health care billing and payment processes for all involved.
Often recognized for her leadership in business and service to the community, Ms. Eftekhari was given the Carlson School of Management’s “2016 Entrepreneur of the Year” award and the 2011 International Immigrant Achievement Award from The International Leadership Institute. Her accomplishments and contributions have also been recognized through numerous awards including “Woman of the Year,” “A Twin Cities’ Woman Changemaker,” “Small Business Person of the Year,” the “Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights Award,” and “Woman of Distinction Award.”
Ms. Eftekhari has also channeled her spirit of advocacy into a myriad of philanthropic endeavors over her career. As a fervent supporter of human rights, she’s been involved with the Foundation for the Children of Iran and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and has served on the boards of her alma mater, the University of Minnesota Medical School, the Board of Overseers at Carlson School of Business, the Walker Art Center, Children’s Hospital and Clinics, as well as the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC). She’s also been a member of Speaker Pelosi’s Leadership Circle and is a founding member of the Yalda Network: Mothers and Others for Iran. Whether she’s fighting for the rights of women and children in her native Iran or championing patient advocacy at HealthEZ, her steadfast belief in doing the right thing above all else has been a driving force throughout her entire career and life.
Tali Farhadian Weinstein
Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a former federal and state prosecutor, has spent nearly two decades working across a range of American legal institutions. Tali and her family came to America on Christmas Eve 1979 as refugees fleeing the violence and antisemitism of revolutionary Iran. Her parents brought her to the United States so she could grow up experiencing safety, fairness and justice, and she in turn has dedicated her career to fighting for those principles. After earning degrees from Yale College, Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and Yale Law School, Tali was a Law Clerk for Judge Merrick B. Garland at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, Tali worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, first as Counsel to Attorney General Eric Holder, and then as a federal prosecutor. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Tali investigated and prosecuted cases ranging from gun violence and murders to public corruption, tax and other frauds, and national security matters. From 2018-2020, Tali served as the General Counsel of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, one of the largest prosecutors' offices in the county. In this role, Tali was part of the leadership team charged with implementing the office’s criminal justice reform agenda, and created the nation’s first Post-Conviction Justice Bureau.
Tali is currently a Legal Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, and an Adjunct Professor of Law at NYU Law School. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and other publications. She is a Trustee of the New York Public Library, where she chairs the Audit Committee, a Trustee of the Vera Institute for Justice, and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). Tali lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters.
Alan Khazei is a social entrepreneur and movement leader who has pioneered ways to empower people to make a difference. He currently serves as Senior Advisor to welcome.us and The Partnership for American Democracy both of which he helped to launch. Alan is the Co-Founder and former CEO of City Year, which unites young adults, ages 17 to 24, from all backgrounds for an intensive year of full-time community service. City Year served as the model for President Clinton’s AmeriCorps program.
Alan also founded Be The Change which developed three campaigns: Opportunity Nation, to promote social mobility and expand opportunity; Got Your 6, to empower post 9/11 Veterans to lead a resurgence of community; and Service Year Alliance, to promote a year of national service as a civic rite of passage. Alan also ran for Congress in Massachusetts.
Alan is the author of Big Citizenship: How Pragmatic Idealism Can Bring Out The Best In America. Alan was born to an Italian American mother and Iranian American immigrant father. He is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Alan was appointed to the Commission on National and Community Service by President George H.W. Bush and served as a Vice-Chair from 1990-1992. Alan also served as a Commissioner on the Commission on Military, National, and Public Service from 2017 to 2020. Alan has served on more than twenty non-profit boards focused on issues including: education, fighting hunger and poverty, promoting democracy, advancing service and social entrepreneurship, and empowering young people.
Shiva Sarram is the founder and executive director of Blossom Hill Foundation. Shiva was born and raised in Tehran, Iran during the devastating Iran-Iraq war - a war that resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties. Her family moved to Europe briefly and eventually, to the United States where she has resided since the early 1980's. Shiva attended the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Economics. She then worked on Wall Street for Chase Manhattan Bank, Deloitte & Touche, Tiger Management and McKinsey & Company.
Shiva has been involved with philanthropic efforts for over twenty years including serving on the Board of the Tiger Foundation for a decade, a $100 million dollar grantmaking foundation working to break the cycle of poverty for children and families in New York City. Her passion for war-affected children as well as her education in economic development, led her to the extraordinary vision and founding of the Blossom Hill Foundation. She resides in New Canaan, CT with her husband and two children where she is actively involved in a number of social justice and public policy issues including climate change, foreign policy and sensible gun law reform.