PAAIA Announces the Civic Leadership Program, Significant Investment in Iranian American Youth Leadership

Over $1 million in funding raised for the first 5-years of programming to encourage a deep culture of public participation and community engagement among Iranian American youth  

Dec. 14, 2021 – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), a nonpartisan organization serving the interests of the Iranian American community, proudly announces its Civic Leadership Program, a significant new initiative which invests in youth leadership programs with the goal of creating a more engaged and empowered Iranian American community.  

Despite being considered a successful immigrant community, Iranian Americans have lacked a unified voice to express their needs and concerns at the local or national level. With initial 5-year funding commitments of over $1 million, the Civic Leadership Program will create a devoted space to support young Iranian Americans to get involved in the American civic process as leaders and advocates. 

The Civic Leadership Program is the result of years of planning and contributions of an independent, experienced advisory committee. Iranian American public servants have also recognized the pressing need to develop broad and deep civic participation amongst the youth. One advisor, Iranian American Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi said, “Civic participation shapes our lives in innumerable ways: it builds connections with our neighbors, it determines if our local school serves our needs and if the trash gets picked up on time, and it influences state and national policies.” Councilmember Farokhi added, “But it is a muscle that needs to be encouraged and cultivated for all of us in a democratic society. Encouraging young Iranian Americans to engage with their community will make for lifelong civic engagement and a stronger America. Thank you to PAAIA for launching this initiative.” 

PAAIA has brought on Layla Sharaf to lead this effort as program director. Layla brings with her deep knowledge of the public sector from her experience working in the federal government and her own involvement in youth leadership programs. “The Civic Leadership Program represents a significant action to invest in youth by offering leadership development opportunities and trainings,” said Layla Sharaf. “The four components will offer young Iranian Americans a wide range of exciting avenues to explore community and public service. We are so excited to champion and empower the next generation of leaders.” 

The Civic Leadership Program will feature four initiatives:  

Forouzan Young Leaders 
Generously sponsored by Khosrow and Forouzan Moaveni 

  • A youth leadership program providing workshops, community service activities, team building exercises, meetings with community leaders, and leadership development focused on Iranian American high school and college students. This program will introduce the possibilities of public service opportunities and provide funding, education, training, and mentorship for those who want to pursue public service careers.  

Advocacy Corps  

  • An annual program where young Iranian Americans interested in community organization are funded to organize their local community around federal legislation. Advocacy Corps organizers connect local activists and leaders with their local member of Congress to affect big, long-term change. These young advocates will benefit from opportunities for mentorship as well as critical community organization and hands-on leadership skills.   

Public Office Leadership Academy  

  • Provides both virtual and in-person training to help Iranian Americans develop leadership skills, build public policy knowledge, learn about running a successful campaign for public office, and network with others interested in community leadership.  

Public Service Career Development Center  

  • The Career Development Center will encourage and educate young Iranian Americans to choose public service career paths and hosts a database for relevant job postings.  The program will provide parallel networking events and workshops on how to successfully apply for jobs.  

To learn more about the Civic Leadership Program, visit paaia.org/civic-leadership-program or email us

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