Inspiring & Empowering

PAAIA aspiring to live up to our full potential


Inspiring & Empowering

by Members of the Boards of PAAIA, PAAIA Fund and IAPAC

On July 17, 2008, posted an item entitled “Hopes and Concerns,” signed by Soudabeh Bashirrad (which may be a pseudonym). The article generally welcomes the formation of Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), admires it for having brought together Iranian Americans of diverse views, and praises PAAIA for taking steps to serve the community. We applaud the author for acknowledging PAAIA’s significant accomplishments during its short history. Unfortunately, the article also contains statements that, at best, reflect serious misperceptions and factual inaccuracies.

The “questions” asked about PAAIA may essentially be divided into three categories: (i) is PAAIA affiliated with any political party or beholden to any personality?; (ii) what has PAAIA done to serve the community?; and (iii) who funds PAAIA? We address each in turn.

PAAIA is not Affiliated with any Political Party

Response to the first question begins with the author’s observations that “[s]eldom have Iranian-Americans of such diverse background come together” and that “[o]ne of PAAIA’s great strengths is the political diversity of its leadership.” PAAIA’s membership did not come together by accident. As reflected in PAAIA’s prospectus – which we encourage everyone to read here – PAAIA was founded, not by one person but a group of diverse Iranian-Americans, as a non-partisan organization intended to bring ALL Iranian-Americans together, regardless of their political views. In emphasizing our common interests, we seek to move past our community’s history of mistrust and lack of unity.

PAAIA’s diversity enables mature decision-making. Each PAAIA-affiliated entity is led by a board of directors of highly successful individuals committed to the best interests of the community. Each board fully and frankly discusses difficult and contentious issues, and strives to reach consensus decisions that account for all viewpoints. No faction predominates; there is no hidden agenda. PAAIA’s decisions are communicated to its members, and feedback is not only encouraged, but solicited. We are familiar with no Iranian-American organization that is more transparent.

Though PAAIA is not beholden to any person, group or political party, it encourages its members to pursue their political preferences in their individual capacities. PAAIA is proud to say, for example, that its ranks include persons who actively supported the presidential campaigns of Governor Romney, Senator McCain, Mayor Giuliani, Senator Obama, and Senator Clinton. The networks cultivated by PAAIA’s members represent one dimension of PAAIA’s unique strengths. These networks enable PAAIA to reach out immediately and to engage in constructive dialogue aimed at education, problem-solving and avoiding misunderstandings whenever our community has a need to reach a public figure – such as instances where candidates for public office make improvident statements about our community. We engage because the interests of our community are best served by reasoned and informed discussion with others; agitation, name-calling and histrionic rhetoric serve only to isolate us and to compromise our ability to educate and influence.

We are therefore surprised by the statements about Ambassador Bolton. PAAIA has never extended an invitation to Ambassador Bolton for a speaking engagement; Ambassador Bolton addressed a group of Iranian-Americans in New York City in November, 2006, nine months before PAAIA even came into existence. Regardless, supposing that PAAIA invites Ambassador Bolton tomorrow, that fact would not establish that PAAIA agrees with Ambassador Bolton’s positions. To believe otherwise would be akin to concluding that, because Columbia University extended an invitation to President Ahmadinejad, the university somehow endorses the views espoused by Iran’s president. If PAAIA is to properly implement its mission, it will frequently come into contact with individuals with whose positions it disagrees. A central tenet of participating in an informed and educated democracy is the ability and willingness to listen to others with whose ideas you might disagree.

PAAIA’s Achievements to Date

The first critical step, as the author acknowledges, is having brought together a diverse group of Iranian-Americans. But there has been, and continues to be much more. We will give only a few examples. PAAIA has been putting together the infrastructure of an organization that can bring not only substance, but scale and breadth to its operations. PAAIA is not about promoting a single individual – each of us already enjoys ample individual success and recognition in our fields – but about empowering the community as a whole. Building an organizational infrastructure that would be a catalyst for community participation in public affairs on a large scale requires time. Evidence of our success, however, is that we have just merged with IAPAC, which gives the organization a political fundraising arm in addition to its already existing educational and issue advocacy dimensions.

Our educational efforts on image-building have included co-sponsorship with the World Affairs Councils of America of a conference to educate American teachers about Iran. There is no better way to disseminate accurate information than to give teachers the tools they need to enlighten students. PAAIA is also producing video profiles of Iranian-Americans who have had extraordinary accomplishments, and we expect to begin airing those within the month. We publish a newsletter to inform our members about legislative and other developments of interest to them. This includes disseminating information about matters such as the Patriot Act, which is a complex piece of legislation that defies simplistic characterization. We continue to engage public officials in both the executive and legislative branches, and when the appropriate moment is presented, PAAIA will not hesitate to defend the civil liberties of Iranian-Americans.

Who Funds PAAIA?

PAAIA does not accept any funding from any government organization or agency. Rather, PAAIA is funded by the generosity of its members, over fifty of whom have committed a substantial sum of their hard-earned money over three years to ensure that the organization may establish itself. PAAIA’s members are contributing because they believe that from those who are blessed much is expected, and they want to give back to the community. PAAIA policy places a cap of $250,000 per person on commitments over three years. Consequently, any assertion that PAAIA has received commitments of greater than that amount is flatly wrong. PAAIA and PAAIA Fund are incorporated in Delaware, and are duly registered as tax exempt organizations with the IRS. IAPAC, in addition, is regulated by the Federal Election Commission.

Invitation to Learn More about and Join PAAIA

There is one more matter. The posting contains innuendo about various members of PAAIA either being motivated by conflicts of interest arising from their personal political affiliations or having sympathies with a particular government. As indicated by the implausibility of the idea that PAAIA would simultaneously be doing the bidding of the Bush Administration and the Government of Iran, the author’s suggestions are absolutely baseless. Making uninformed accusations is irresponsible and harmful to the interests of the community. In the United States in the 21st century, we must as a community elevate the quality of our political thinking and discourse away from conspiracy theories that have no basis whatsoever in reality and are based only on suppositions and remote inferences.

Iranian-Americans are highly accomplished and successful. We should rightfully be proud of our accomplishments and heritage. As the author notes, PAAIA has managed to coalesce a diverse group of high-powered Iranian-Americans devoted to serving their community. This diverse group continues their support and participation in PAAIA because there are no illegitimate connections or hidden agendas. We invite and welcome all in our community—including the author—to become better informed about PAAIA, and to join us in our collective quest to ensure that our community realizes its full potential for the benefit of all of us, particularly our children.

* PAAIA Board of Directors
* PAAIA Fund Board of Directors
* IAPAC Board of Directors
* PAAIA Executive Team

Please contact PAAIA ( at with your questions, comments and suggestions.



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I don't trust this

by Ali1234 (not verified) on

I don't trust this organization; The co-founder Jamsheed Ameri is the husband of the Iranian neocon Goli Ameri (who was appointed by Bush for as the assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs). You can google her name or read about her in wikipedia.

I want to know what are the views of PAAIA/IAPAC about the economic sanctions on Iran? Will this organization exercise its influence on the U.S government to stop the sanctions?



by CyrusShah (not verified) on

We Iranians do not trust organizations that keep silent on the ongoing IRI genocide against us.

Please provide your views and activities to bring about a free, secular democracy or Constitutional Monarchy for Iran. This the duty of every Iranian and also your own duty.

Otherwise the people of Iran will not support you.



by Pahlevan on

What a prominent board of directors. I think Iranian-Americans can finally gain the influence they deserve in washington through this organization and have their voices heard.

NIAC's reputation is now tarnished, through no one's but their own fault; hence they cannot improve the image of Iranian-Americans, they might even hurt it. Iranian-Americans should unite in supporting PAAIA/IAPAC.

Also IMHO, it would be better if this organization had a single name, rather than two. Our community is in dire need of unity. Thanks for the effort and keep up the good work.




It's not enough, Babak

by anti-IR (not verified) on


The top priority for all Iranians is the overthrow of the IR islamofascist regime, not any other issue. What have you done about that?

If you do not agree with John Bolton's position, what plan do you have to free Iran?