Civic Leaders Summit

Civic Leaders Summit 2022 Recap

From July 10 – 15, PAAIA’s Civic Leadership Program hosted our first Civic Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.! Thirty-two Iranian American high schoolers and counselors from fifteen states across the country came together for a transformative week resulting in a strong community of impressive young Iranian American leaders.


Through the Civic Leaders Summit’s programming, participants gained important skills to help them lead by translating their values into action. Through discussions and interactive workshops, our participants learned to articulate shared values and respond mindfully to challenges faced by our Iranian American community and beyond.


Some highlights from the week:

  • Exploring the history of our Iranian American community and its impact on our identity

  • Participating in public leadership training, developed by Harvard University Professor Marshall Ganz Visiting the Library of Congress to learn about our Persian language heritage through the rare books collection

  • Enjoying Persian cuisine at Georgetown’s Peacock Café and hearing from Chef Maziar about his involvement in the first Nowruz at the White House and the role of culture and cuisine in diplomacy

  • Training to advocate on Capitol Hill for a variety of issue areas important to the group


For a deeper glimpse into the week, check out the “Summit” highlights on Instagram and follow @IACivicLeaders for updates on future opportunities!

The participants applied the lessons they learned throughout the week, which culminated in a visit to Capitol Hill where they met with thirteen congressional offices to share their thoughts about what matters most to them. Offices were selected based on where participants are from.


We also met with the first Iranian American Member of Congress, Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (OK-5), for lunch and Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) joined us on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building. Both shared their own stories of public service and answered questions from participants on the opportunities and challenges of representation and the democratic process.


Hear from some of the participants themselves on how the week went!


“With new risks and new experiences, come friendships and education that will last a lifetime. The day on Capitol Hill opened my eyes to a potential political career.” – Arya, California


“The Civic Leaders Summer Summit was an amazing experience. I met so many fellow like-minded Iranian Americans while being civically engaged and learning about our personal narratives.” – Lara, New York


“Getting to meet my representative allowed me to truly understand how powerful my voice is in political actions.” – Maire, Virginia

As we brought our inaugural summit to a close, none of us could have imagined a more inspiring and fulfilling week of practicing civic leadership while forming lifelong friendships.

Summit Girls T-shirts


A week-long immersive experience that inspires and empowers young Iranian Americans to become civic leaders. This competitive program will introduce students to the important topic of civic participation through dialogue, engagement, and experiences including meeting with elected officials, experts, and leaders. The Summer Summit will create a space for participants to build a community of highly motivated and accomplished peers bonded by their shared identity.


Summer 2023 dates TBD


Current high school students who identify as Iranian Americans


Washington, D.C. (American University)

Program Outcomes


Participants will be better equipped to actively participate in government and politics at the national, state, and local levels.


Participants will be trained in the fundamentals of leadership, helping them inspire others to become change agents in their communities.

Critical Thinking

Participants will have developed essential critical thinking skills and be ready to address current and future political, economic, and social issues facing their community and society-at-large.


Participants will understand the importance of their Iranian American identity and values and how they can bring their authentic selves to public service.

Young Iranian American students from the IACLP campaigning for Congressman Jim Himes


Participants will have an opportunity to hear from leaders on critical issues in their communities and the country. The Summer Summit provides direct experience in community organizing and action planning to highlight how leadership intersects with identity, and how young Iranian Americans can lead in their communities.

Program Highlights

Panel discussions with policy and advocacy experts

Meeting with civic leaders

Experiential learning activities aligned with the information being presented.

Schedule specifics, including speakers and field trips, will be announced as confirmed.

The Washington Monument

Application Requirements

All applicants must be current high school students as of March 2022 (including graduating seniors). The application requires a resume and a short essay to demonstrate an interest in civic participation. The application for the 2022 summer has now closed.


Cost: Summer 2023 cost TBD


Travel: Attendees are responsible for travel to Washington, D.C.


Financial Aid: Financial assistance is readily available, please contact for more information.

For questions, please contact