Last night, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans lost one of its board members, and the Iranian American community lost one of its staunchest supporters.
Dr. Akbar Ghahary, a member of the board of directors of PAAIA’s affiliated PAC, the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), passed away from heart complications.
Dr. Ghahary received his master’s in mechanical design and engineering from Aria Mehr University in Iran and his Ph.D., in 1983, in thermoset plastics composition and design in affiliation with Lowell University of Massachusetts. He is well-known for his expertise in polymer design and composites and owns many US and international patents, mostly in polymers and advanced composites. As CEO of Safas Corporation, he created Granicoat (R), the award-winning product that Safas Corporation manufactures and markets worldwide.
However, he is perhaps best known for his commitment to the Iranian culture and community. He was the first individual who organized and founded a three-day conference, Iran Facing the New Century, which focused on Iran’s national identity and national interest at Oxford University, UK in 2004. The conference was well-received and attended by scholars and academicians from Iran, the United States, Canada, and Europe. Dr. Ghahary also served as the President of the Persian Cultural and Humanitarian Association, Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Iranica Foundation, and the co-founder and President of the Persian Cultural Foundation (PCF).
Recognizing the absence of Iranian American participation in the American civic process, Dr. Ghahary co-founded and served on the Board of Directors of IAPAC and served as trustee of both IAPAC and PAAIA. In addition, his relationships with various U.S. presidents and members of Congress helped bring about a better understanding of the Iranian culture and the issues important to our community.
A strong supporter of the younger generation of Iranian Americans, Dr. Ghahary was instrumental in funding and promoting PAAIA’s Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP). Through his generosity, numerous young Iranian Americans were able to participate in meaningful internships on Capitol Hill, working with various congressional offices. Invariably, all of them noted that the internship was one of the most meaningful professional experiences they had.
Dr. Ghahary will be missed for the contributions he made to the social and economic fabric of America and to the many Iranian American causes that he championed. We are indebted to him for his contributions and honored to have worked with and known him. Our most sincere condolences go to his family and friends.