PAAIA Names Leila Golestaneh Austin, Ph.D., as New Executive Director

February 2, 2015, Washington, D.C. – The Board of Directors of PAAIA Fund and The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (collectively “PAAIA”) are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Leila Golestaneh Austin as the organization’s next Executive Director.  Dr. Austin will manage the organization and work with the Board to pursue and execute PAAIA’s mission in a robust fashion.

A Professorial Lecturer in Global Theory and History and Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (“SAIS”), Dr. Austin currently serves as deputy director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute at SAIS.  She also manages a multi-year grant that launched the Global Politics and Religion Initiative at SAIS. In addition, Dr. Austin teaches in the Global Security Studies department of Johns Hopkins University’s Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the American University’s School of International Service. She has previously taught at Georgetown University’s Center for Arab Studies and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.  She received her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and her M.A. in International Affairs from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

“We are excited for Leila to take the lead as Executive Director,” said Ali Mojdehi, Chairman of the Board of PAAIA.  “In addition to Leila’s professional experience, we are particularly impressed by her academic and managerial experience and are certain that she, along with the able team we have in place, will advance our organization’s mission to greater heights.”

 “I am a strong believer in PAAIA’s dynamic mission and am excited about the opportunity to guide its important goal of promoting the full participation of Iranian Americans of all generations in American society,” said Dr. Austin.  “PAAIA is the only organization that has the credibility to act as a public policy resource for the Iranian American community while fostering constructive dialogue between Iranian and American citizens during this pivotal time.”

Beginning in 2014, the Board changed its mission and structure to serve the needs of the Iranian American community of today and of the future, taking into account the organization’s more seasoned stage of development, as well as the evolving needs of the community and the nature of US-Iran relations. Based on these reconsiderations, while maintaining its core principles, PAAIA refocused its efforts on three specific pillars: bridge building, influence building, and leadership building. “With PAAIA’s revised mission that will allow the organization to focus on facilitating greater understanding between the peoples of the United States and Iran, while continuing to build an influential voice for the Iranian American community and facilitating the path of success for the next generation of Iranian Americans, Leila’s appointment could not have come at a better time,” said Forough Hosseini, Vice Chairman of the Board of PAAIA. 


PAAIA Fund, a 501(c)3 organization, and its affiliate PAAIA, a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, nonprofit 501(c)4, are dedicated to encouraging constructive relations and enhancing mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and Iran, building an influential voice for the Iranian American community, and positioning the next generation of Iranian Americans for success.  For more information, visit: www.paaia.org. 

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