PAAIA’s Top Ten Achievements in 2009
Join PAAIA Today and Contribute to Making 2010 Even More Successful
January 7, 2010, Washington, D.C. – Having grown to over 2,200 members and six active local chapters, PAAIA is viewed favorably by more than 70% of Iranian Americans who know the organization. In 2009, PAAIA helped launch the Iranian American 2010 Census Project and led the formation of a coalition of more than fifteen organizations working collaboratively towards an accurate count of Iranian Americans. During the past year, PAAIA was instrumental in introducing the Nowruz Resolution in Congress, and has ensured that the views of Iranian Americans concerning recent developments in Iran are heard by U.S. policy makers. IAPAC and PAAIA have continued their support for Congressional candidates as well as Iranian Americans running for public office, and to inform and educate community members about legislative developments of interest or concern. PAAIA held the “Passing the Torch of Success” event at UCLA in May before an audience of more than 2000, and continued to celebrate the achievements and contributions of more than 100 Iranian Americans throughout the year. Finally, during the past year, PAAIA stood up to bias against Iranian Americans by joining a friend of the court brief in the case of Mattel vs MGA, seeking a mistrial on the grounds that MGA and its Iranian American executive Larian were denied a fair trial as a result of juror bias towards Iranians.
PAAIA is proud of its many achievements during the past year and remains committed to fully empowering Iranian Americans by further building our community, enhancing our image and increasing our political influence. However, this is an undertaking that benefits all Iranian Americans and is deserving of YOUR active support and involvement.
1. Building a Grassroots Organization Representing Iranian Americans. In 2009, PAAIA’s ranks grew to more than 2,200 members represented by active local chapters in Chicago, Houston, the New York Tri-State Area, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Southern California. Most importantly, according to a national survey of Iranian Americans conducted by Zogby International in August, more than seventy percent (70%) of Iranian Americans who know the organization have a favorable opinion of PAAIA.
2. Launching Iranian American 2010 Census Project & Coalition. In April, PAAIA helped launch the Iranian American 2010 Census Project, aimed at securing an accurate count of the Iranian American population. Since then, PAAIA has led the effort to form a coalition of more than fifteen national and prominent Iranian American organizations working collaboratively toward this important objective.
3. Nowruz Resolution Introduced in Congress. Working closely with Congressman Honda and other members of Congress, PAAIA succeeded in having the Nowruz Resolution introduced for the first time in the U.S. House of Representatives in March. The Resolution recognizes the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz, expresses appreciation to Iranian Americans for their contributions to American society, and wishes Iranian Americans, the people of Iran, and all those who celebrate the holiday a prosperous new year.
4. Surveying Iranian Americans regarding Recent Developments in Iran. Following the historic developments in Iran in the aftermath of the disputed June 12th presidential election, PAAIA commissioned Zogby International to conduct a national public opinion survey of Iranian Americans and their views concerning these developments, the Obama Administration’s reaction to them, U.S.-Iran relations in their wake, and the role, if any, that the Iranian Diaspora could or should play with respect to such developments. The results of this survey were released in November and have been shared with Members of Congress and key administration officials in order to inform future U.S. policy decisions with respect to Iran.
5. Building Greater Political Influence for Iranian Americans. During 2009, IAPAC continued its bi-partisan support for Congressional candidates, including Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Governor Charlie Crist’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate (R-FL), and Iranian American candidates running for public office, including Amir Farokhi’s candidacy for Atlanta City Council and Mark Ameli’s candidacy for Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles County. This past year, PAIAA also organized a Network of Iranian Americans in Public Service, committing to support their careers in government.
6. Informing on Iran Sanctions & Other Legislative Developments. Throughout 2009, PAAIA provided timely and balanced reports on legislative developments of concern or interest to Iranian Americans, particularly concerning civil rights and immigration policy as well as U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Iran. For example, in November PAAIA released a comprehensive report on Iran sanctions legislation under consideration in the 111th Congress.
7. Passing the Torch of Success and Celebrating Iranian Americans. In May, PAAIA held the unprecedented “Passing the Torch of Success” event at UCLA, where speakers Omid Kordestani, Firouz Naderi, Hamid Biglari, Sam Nazarian, Pardis Sabeti, and Parisa Khosravi inspired the audience of more than 2,000 by sharing their experiences and insights. Throughout the year, PAAIA also featured more than 100 prominent and less recognized Iranian Americans, celebrating their achievements and contributions to America and the world.
8. Demanding Fair Trial for Iranian Americans. During jury deliberations in a 2008 lawsuit involving Mattel and MGA Entertainment, whose CEO Isaac Larian is an Iranian American, a juror commented that Iranians are “stubborn, rude, are thieves, and have stolen other person’s ideas”. Upon learning of the juror’s comments, the presiding judge did not grant a mistrial sought on the grounds that MGA and Larian were denied a fair trial as a result of the juror in question having exhibited bias towards Iranians. In July 2009, PAAIA together with the Anti-Defamation League, the Iranian American Bar Association and the Iranian American Jewish Federation, filed a friend of the court brief before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the verdict against MGA and Larian should be overturned because they were denied a fair trial. By joining the amicus brief, PAAIA took a firm stand against all forms of intolerance and sent a strong message that we will not tolerate bias or discrimination against Iranian Americans.
9. Standing Up to Bias against Iranians. Following insensitive on-air remarks about Grizzlies Iranian center Hamed Haddadi during a November 18th broadcast of their game, PAAIA conveyed to Fox Sports the Iranian American community’s outrage over such remarks, eliciting a response letter from the Chairman and CEO of Fox Sports Television Group providing us assurances that the incident was isolated and expressing zero tolerance for any slur or perceived slur.
10. Expanding PAAIA’s Reach. In 2009, PAAIA significantly expanded its reach among Iranian Americans and beyond, with its website having been visited by more than 85,000 unique visitors and its email database exceeding 30,000.