The PAAIA Akbar Ghahary Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP) recognizes that congressional internships are often the inspiration and launching point for the careers of some of the most distinguished public servants in the nation. Members of Congress and their constituents depend on interns for their work and contributions. The purpose of the CHIP program is to promote increased civic participation among young Iranian Americans. The program seeks to simply create a more civically engaged community by providing a rewarding experience that helps participants learn about the importance of being active in the American civic process. Learn about our previous CHIP fellows and their experiences below, or click here to learn more about the program itself and fill out the application form.
Josee Molavi: Spring Internship with Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD/8)
Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Josee Molavi is a first year student at American University studying Communications, Law, Economics, and Government. She plans to graduate in May of 2020 as a Politics, Policy and Law 3-year Scholar with a Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies from AU’s School of Public Affairs Leadership Program. This semester, she serves as a press intern in the Office of Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. This is her first internship on Capitol Hill, but she did prior work for Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17) of the Maryland State Senate.
Leela Najafi: Summer Internship with the Senate Committee
on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Leela Najafi grew up in Marin County, CA. She is nineteen years old and the youngest of three sisters, Ana and Ariana. She moved to Washington, D.C. last year to pursue a degree in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG) at American University. During her first semester of her freshman year she interned for her representative, Congressman Jared Huffman. She really enjoyed her first internship on the Hill and decided that she would like to continue contributing to the work our legislators do, especially with the partnership of PAAIA. Now, she is beginning a digital press internship for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. She will be working directly with the committee and the office of Ranking Member Senator Claire McCaskill. She really looks forward to the internship and being a part of the CHIP program!
Aava Khajavi: Spring Internship with Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA/17)
Aava Khajavi is a first generation Iranian-American graduating from American University this May with a BA in Psychology. She is passionate about educational equity and alleviating the social stigma tied to mental health issues. Growing up in Los Angeles, a city with an enormous Iranian American population, Aava witnessed first-hand how little Iranian Americans’ interests are represented in the political arena. This reality is what inspired her to pursue a career in politics and encourage her community to have a larger voice in government.
Shahriar Jahanbani: Fall Internship with Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA/10)
Born and raised in Great Falls, Virginia, Shahriar Jahanbani is a senior at American University. He is studying in a multi-discipline major in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government (CLEG) and is expected to graduate in June of 2016. Serving as a congressional intern gives Shahriar an important vantage point on American public life, valuable professional networking and communications skills, and an important credential to work full-time as a congressional staffer or elsewhere in federal or state government.
Hadi Sedigh: Spring Legislative Fellow at the office of
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY/11)
Hadi Sedigh is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia’s School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 2011. He joined Representative Yvette Clarke’s Washington, D.C. office as a fellow in January, where his duties include research, writing, and communicating with constituents and interest groups. After gaining understanding of an issue, he writes one or more of a variety of documents, including memoranda outlining the issue for the legislative staff and talking points or speeches for the congresswoman. Prior to joining Representative Clarke’s office, Hadi was pursuing a University of Virginia Post-Graduate Fellowship in Indianapolis, where he performed pro bono legal services for indigent Indianapolis residents. Hadi had also previously served as a law clerk in the Office of House Employment Counsel at the House of Representatives.
Shahrooz Shahandeh: Spring Internship with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Shahrooz Shahandeh is a graduate student at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he is pursuing a Master of Science in Foreign Service. As a legislative intern in Senator Charles Schumer’s Washington, D.C. office, he focuses on foreign policy, technology and communications, and immigration reform. Before moving to D.C., Shahrooz also worked in governmental affairs in California, where he served as a local government liaison for The Energy Coalition, an environmental non-profit organization, and as Executive Assistant to the Mayor of the City of Irvine.
Marisa Vavruska: Summer Internship at Capitol Hill office of the LNE Group
Marisa Vavruska is a rising senior at Amherst College (Amherst, MA) with a major in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. Outside of academia, Marisa is member of the Amherst College rowing team and a bassoonist in the Amherst College Symphony Orchestra. In the past, she has held internships with Freedman Consulting (Washington, D.C.), a strategic consulting, communications and policy development group and the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH), where she served as a research assistant. This summer, Marisa is interning at the Capitol Hill office of the government relations firm, LNE Group, and is attempting to learn Farsi at the Middle East Institute in her spare time.
Mitra Yazidi: Summer Internship with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Mitra Yazdi is a rising junior at Yale University majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics with hopes of attending law school in the future. In the past she has been involved with non-profit organizations focusing on human rights issues such as OMID Advocates for Human Rights and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. In addition, she has extensive volunteer experience with organizations that promote cancer research and awareness. Mitra will be spending her summer as an intern with Senator Dianne Feistein’s San Francisco office working on constituent and community outreach as well as research.
Parnia Zahedi: Fall Internship with Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA/11)
Parnia Zahedi is a junior at Georgetown University double majoring in government and English, with a minor in Spanish. On campus, she is Vice President of the College Academic Council, on the Executive Board of the Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society, and a member of the co-ed professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi. As an intern in Congressman Gerry Connolly’s office, Parnia attends congressional hearings in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, prepares memorandum from hearings and briefings, and drafts constituent correspondence. She has previously interned for the lobbying firm Manatos & Manatos as well as the Terry McAuliffe gubernatorial campaign. Upon graduation, Parnia hopes to work on Capitol Hill and attend law school to pursue a career in foreign policy.
Deanna Javadi: Summer Internship with Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Deanna Javadi is a senior at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where she is studying International Relations. Deanna is actively involved in extracurricular activities and campus student groups, including Delta Gamma Fraternity, World Affairs Club, Greek Allies, and Peer Values Education. She has also held a number of internships including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), and the Roberto Wirth Fund. This past spring 2012 semester, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy.
Monna Sabouri: Summer Internship with the
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)
Monna Sabouri is a student at CUNY Queens College, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with honors in Business and Liberal Arts. During her time in Queens College, Monna has worked as a Legal Intern for the Honorable Justice Rosengarten in Queens County Supreme Court. She is affiliated with her father’s non-profit organization, the Roodaki Foundaiton, which helps the promotion of Iranian Culture throughout the world. Monna is also a musician, getting her minors in music theory from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. She went to the Pre-College Division of the Manhattan School of Music for Classical Voice and Piano. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has been featured in various film and television projects.
Darien Salehy: Fall Intern with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)
Darien Salehy is a recent graduate of University of Colorado – Boulder, where he majored in International Affairs. He joined Senator Udall’s Washington, D.C. office this fall. He is currently interning for the Senator Udall’s Press Department, conducting legal and factual research, speech writing, and working on official press releases.