What is PAAIA?
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, non-sectarian organization that serves the interests of Iranian Americans and represents the community before U.S. policymakers and the American public at large. We work to foster greater understanding between the people of Iran and the United States, expand opportunities for the active participation of Iranian Americans in the democratic process at all levels of government and in the public debate, and provide opportunities for advancement for our next generation.
PAAIA also has a connected Political Action Committee, IAPAC, which promotes and contributes to the election of Iranian American and American candidates for political office.
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Who founded PAAIA?
In November 2006, a group of approximately 70 Iranian Americans from across the United States gathered in New York City to examine and discuss issues confronting the community. Despite significant individual achievement in all aspects of American life over the preceding three decades, there was a consensus within this group that Iranian Americans had failed to come together as a community to promote their image, support their advancement in public affairs, and present an effective national voice. It was such that PAAIA was born in August 2007.
Click here to read more about our full history.
Does PAAIA have any political affiliations?
No. PAAIA is a nonprofit organization and is not affiliated with any government, political party, or political personality.
Is PAAIA affiliated with the Government of Iran?
No. PAAIA is not affiliated with either the Islamic Republic of Iran or the U.S. government. PAAIA is an independent nonprofit organization focused on representing the interests of the Iranian American community in the U.S.
What is PAAIA’s Position on U.S.-Iran relations?
PAAIA maintains a neutral position on U.S. affairs towards Iran and is not a platform for promoting foreign policy or influencing the domestic politics in Iran. PAAIA, through its annual surveys of Iranian Americans, aggregates and provides access to scientific data and information on the community, including their views on the U.S.- Iran relations. Based on input from our constituency and surveys, PAAIA has in the past and may in the future address certain aspects of U.S. foreign policy towards Iran if and to the extent that such policies impact the Iranian American community.
PAAIA supports the rule of law, respect for human rights, and democratic government in all countries, including in Iran and believes that the future of Iran must and will be decided by the people of Iran.
Why does PAAIA support bridge building between U.S. and Iran?
The lessons derived from the Cold War propose that more assets should be dedicated to cultural and educational exchanges. Such exchanges with Iran will uphold positive features of American society and help cultivate the good will of the Iranian people towards America.
The Iranian American community is in a unique position to help the citizens of Iran and the United States constructively engage with each other. PAAIA’s annual surveys have shown that U.S.-Iran relations are the single most important issue on the minds of Iranian Americans, many frequently travel to Iran and/or have relatives still living there, and a large majority believes that it is very important to facilitate greater understanding between the peoples of Iran and the U.S. Furthermore, studies show that Iran is rather unique in the Middle East in that a vast majority of Iranians have a favorable view of America, while Americans do not have a good understanding of Iranians.
By carefully selecting issues that are both timely and able to make practical difference, PAAIA, through various forms of cultural and educational exchanges, can help increase understanding and dialogue between the peoples of Iran and the Unites States.
Does PAAIA’s bridge-building activities focus on US-Iran political issues?
No, PAAIA’s bridge-building efforts focus primarily on cultural activities and educational exchanges. On an annual basis, we will select a small number of specific events and projects and will announce them as they are ready for public dissemination.
What is PAAIA’s Public Policy Center?
The Public Policy Center is the policy arm for PAAIA, created to gather, maintain, and provide reliable and unbiased information on the Iranian American community, its needs and issues. The Public Policy Center aggregates and provides access to accurate and statistically relevant data and information on the Iranian American community in the United States and the issues that impact them.
Why does PAAIA conduct national public opinion surveys?
In striving to become the leading source of accurate information about the Iranian American community, since 2008, PAAIA has commissioned scientific surveys of the Iranian American community as well as on American perceptions of Iranian Americans. Thesurveys are an integral component of better understanding the Iranian American community and having its voice heard through the availability of ongoing accurate scientific data. These invaluable surveys were the first of their kind and have been presented to the U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of State, the media, and the general public to wide acclaim.
What programs does PAAIA have for Iranian American youth?
The need to invest in the next generation has been a core focus of PAAIA since its inception and one of its concrete legacies. PAAIA’s programs for our next generation include programs for Rising Iranian American Starts (RIAS) and IA NexGen.
RIAS includes a carefully-vetted group of outstanding IA professionals in mid-career who have the potential to become leaders in their respective domains, whether in the private or public sector.
IA NexGen is a group of young Iranian Americans who are exploring paths that best lead them to the future they seek. As they embark on the next stage of their lives, they have access to peer groups, mentorship opportunities, and tailored programs such as internship programs that are designed to provide practical work experience in either the private or public sector.
Click here to read more about PAAIA’s leadership-building initiatives.
What is PAAIA’s position on the human rights situation inside Iran?
As Americans, we believe in the ideals and basic human rights that form the foundation upon which the United States stands: democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, popular sovereignty, tolerance, and free enterprise. We believe that people across the globe, including Iran, share these aspirations and that they should be allowed to fulfill them through democratic processes that include the right to select leaders who represent their best interests. PAAIA has in the past unequivocally condemned the killing of innocent civilians in Iran. However, PAAIA is not a human rights organization. Our advocacy activity is strictly focused on the US process and issues.
As an organization that represents the interests of Iranian Americans, PAAIA seeks to protect Iranian Americans’ right to immunity from harassment and unlawful detention when traveling outside the United States, including Iran. As such, PAAIA has called on the authorities in Iran to safeguard the rights, safety, and security of all Iranian Americans traveling to or living in Iran.
What is PAAIA’s position on U.S. sanctions on Iran?
As stated previously, PAAIA maintains a neutral position on U.S. affairs towards Iran. As such, any involvement that PAAIA may have with respect to the issue of U.S. – Iran sanctions is expected to strictly focus on educating Iranian Americans about the issue and possibly managing the impact sanctions regulations may have on the Iranian American community by, for example, facilitating legitimate humanitarian aid to Iran or identifying and seeking modifications OFAC restrictions that may unreasonably restrict legitimate activities in the United States.
How can I support PAAIA?