From Serving in the White House to Storytelling in VR and NPR, Meet D.C.'s Most Influential Iranian-American Women

From the Oval Office to the most powerful American boardrooms, Iranian-American women are among the most hardworking of this country's changemakers. On November 13th, The Iranian American Women Foundation (IAWF) will feature many of these women, currently serving at the White House, the State Department, in global investment firms, and The National Gallery of Art, as part of a day-long leadership summit in Washington D.C.

Photo: Sahar Nowrouzzadeh at the White House (far left)

As part of our panel on the changing media landscape, journalists from NPR, Vox, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and myself from SecondMuse will examine emerging technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 capture while emphasizing the critical role that traditional media continues to play in covering global stories.

Photo: Ardalan interviewing subsistence farmers in the rural village of Tiriloca, Timor-Leste as part of a 360 documentary on food innovators.

The theme for the summit is "Building Bridges" and will include these trailblazing women:

  • Ferial Govashiri: Govashiri currently serves as Personal Aide to the President of the United States. Ms. Govashiri began her political career in the Scheduling and Advance department in then Senator Barack Obama's Chicago presidential campaign headquarters in 2007. Following the election, she was appointed to the National Security Council (NSC) as Senior Advisor to Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor.

  • Sahar Nowrouzzadeh: Nowrouzzadeh recently joined the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff after serving as a Director For Iran and Iran Nuclear Implementation on the National Security Council (NSC) Staff at the White House from 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining the NSC, she served as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State and prior to that as a Team Chief and Senior Analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Afsaneh Beschloss: Beschloss rose up the ranks to be Treasurer and Chief Investment Officer of the World Bank, where she was responsible for the investment of the World Bank's assets, as well as external assets from the IMF, central banks and sovereign funds. Today, Beschloss is the Founder and CEO of Rock Creek, a global investment and advisory firm.
  • Gazelle Hashemian: Hashemian is the Founder of BlueFlower, a wellness company, and BlueJuniper, a technology Firm. Prior to her current endeavors, she led her technology firm which she had founded with her husband, Paragon Technology Group. Under Ms. Hashemian's leadership and through the execution of the company's growth, Paragon grew organically from 5 employees in 2001 to over 240 employees in 2011 serving the public and private sector's management consulting and technology services.
  • With more than 3,000 members nationwide, IAWF showcases the diversity of America, celebrates the confluence of American fabric and Iranian heritage, and propels women forward into new, dynamic professional leadership arenas. IAWF Founder Mariam Khosravani, has brought together a critical mass of engaged professional women to talk about their lives, their desires, their professions, their failures, and their visions for the future.

    Photo: IAWF Orange County Host Committee (Mariam Khosravani holding the W) at a leadership conference in OC on October 30, 2016

    Khosravani was one of millions who left Iran after the 1979 revolution. "We had a lot of difficulties, a lot of challenges moving to a new country, learning a new language, adopting a new culture. Proving ourselves," Khosravani told the Orange Country Register. "And all of this was happening right after the revolution in Iran, the worst time, the worst relationship existed between the U.S. government and Iran."

    If you can't join the D.C. summit in person, follow #IAWFDC16 on Facebook and Twitter.