As PAAIA’s Executive Director, Dr. Leila Golestaneh Austin provides operational and strategic direction to ensure PAAIA’s mission to represent the Iranian American community’s interests before U.S. policymakers and the American public at large is achieved. She founded PAAIA’s robust Civic Engagement Initiative, a program that works to actively inspire and empower Iranian Americans to get involved as concerned members of their communities. As a board member of IAPAC, PAAIA’s connected political action committee, Dr. Austin supports and encourages Iranian Americans to actively participate in the U.S. democratic process and run for public office. Finally, she develops and manages programs that highlight the many ways Iranian Americans contribute to the social, cultural, and economic tapestry of the United States, in addition to elevating national discourse on social and racial justice issues for community dialogue.
Prior to joining PAAIA in 2015, Dr. Austin was Professorial Lecturer in Global Theory and History and Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where she also served as co-director of the Global Politics and Religion Initiative and deputy director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute.
Dr. Austin 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 at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Austin did her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr College.