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Our Staff


Layla Sharaf, Director

Layla Sharaf is an effective leader with a strong commitment to public service. Ms. Sharaf currently serves as Director, Civic Leadership Program, Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian American (PAAIA). PAAIA empowers young Iranian Americans to become civic leaders through education, funding, training, and mentorship opportunities.
Ms Sharaf developed her passion for mission-oriented work while serving in the White House, where she helped manage the executive branch’s technology foundation. She continued to work with the public sector at a technology start-up, where she focused on government clients.

Ms. Sharaf earned her B.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University

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Lara Samii, Intern

Lara Samii is a high school junior from New York City. She is an Iranian American who interns with the Civic Leadership Program as she is interested in politics and believes in the power of civic engagement to effectuate change.


Lara founded a Civic Engagement Program and teaches the class to under-resourced children in a Public School. The course helps educate youth about local issues and the importance of getting involved in one’s community. It is discussion based, and there are hands-on activities planned for every session. Lara is interested in politics and is a Fellow on the Carolyn Maloney Campaign for re-election. In addition, she is also the Co-leader of Teens Find Middle Ground which is an organization that helps teens find a bipartisan solution in our divided nation. She is also the Co-leader of a student-led organization to fight food insecurity called The Helpful Kitchen (THK). It has collected and donated 17,000 pounds of food to date to food pantries. In school, Lara is  a Co-leader of the Middle East Culture and Appreciation Club, a place to embrace one's Middle Eastern culture. 


Bahar Babagoli, Intern



Ava Keshavarzi, Intern


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