The 2023 Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit was a Success!

From July 9 – 15, we hosted our second Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.! 33 Iranian American high schoolers and counselors from 7 states across the country came together for a transformative week building leadership skills, learning about the importance of civic engagement, and taking action to make a difference in their communities. 

Participants had the opportunity to delve into their Iranian American identity, learn about the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, advocate for issues they believe are important, and form lasting connections with their Iranian American peers.

Through discussions, interactive workshops, and firsthand experiences, our Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit participants learned to articulate their shared values and respond mindfully to the challenges that face our Iranian American community and our nation as a whole.

Iranian American Youth meets with members of Congress with PAAIA's CLP
Iranian American Civic Leaders visit the White House with PAAIA's CLP


Left: Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit participants hear from Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4)
Right: Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit participants meet with Senator Tim Kaine (VA)

Some highlights from the week:

  • Exploring our Iranian American identity through our shared values, cultural food and activities, and insights into the history of our community
  • Participating in public narrative training, a leadership model crafted by Marshall Ganz at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with the aim of using storytelling to encourage action
  • Visiting the White House and U.S. Capitol Building for an inside look at our democratic institutions and how progress really happens
  • Celebrating our Iranian American culture with a delicious Persian dinner at Georgetown’s Peacock Café and a “Party Like a Persian” silent disco
  • Hearing from successful Iranian Americans who have careers in public service about their journeys and experiences in Washington, D.C.
  • Advocating on Capitol Hill for a variety of important issues that participants chose themselves

For a glimpse into the week, check out the “Summit” highlights on Instagram and follow @IACivicLeaders for updates on future opportunities!

Iranian American Students hearing from Representative Jim Himes
IA Civic Leaders meeting with Senator Tim Kaine

Left: Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit participants hear from Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4)
Right: Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit participants meet with Senator Tim Kaine (VA)

Our Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit participants applied the knowledge, skills, and insights they gained throughout the week to their advocacy on Capitol Hill.  After hearing directly from Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) about his experience as a member of Congress and what inspired him to commit his life to public service, students met with eleven congressional offices to bring attention to issues they are passionate about.

Some of the policies that participants wanted to promote included the MAHSA Act (H.R.589), the Fossil Free Finance Act (S.1138), the Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA), and the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.17).  They used their personal experiences and storytelling abilities to cultivate a legislative interest in these bills and encourage action. 

As we brought our second annual Farokhzad Civic Leaders Summit to a close, participants reflected on the inspiring and fulfilling week they had building lifelong friendships and practicing civic leadership.

“Iranian American youth are incredibly passionate and talented. Throughout the week I got to learn about different people’s passions and experiences and that was probably the best part of the week.”

“I learned the importance of uniting together as young Iranian Americans and advocating for what we believe and improving the future for other young Iranian Americans through telling our story.”

“My biggest takeaway from the Civic Leaders Summit was the importance to advocate for your community and become an ally to those who lack the privilege you have.”

IA Civic Leaders on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building

Looking ahead, we’re excited about the many opportunities PAAIA’s Civic Leadership Program will continue to offer Iranian American youth.  Currently, our Pezeshkan Family Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP) is accepting applications for the Fall!  Visit our website and follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on what’s happening and how you can get involved! 

These programs and the unique opportunities they present to young Iranian Americans are only possible with your support. Please consider contributing to the Civic Leadership Program to invest in the next generation of leaders!

August 3, 2023

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