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PARSA Community Foundation: An Iranian-American philanthropy group is born

By Ali Moayedian - Last year, without much fanfare, several prominent Iranian-Americans pulled in their resources and founded PARSA Community Foundation. The mission of PARSA is to become the leading institution practicing strategic philanthropy and promoting social entrepreneurship towards a strong global Iranian presence.


PARSA’s goal is to invest in the following common causes:

·          Preservation and advancement of Iranian arts and culture.

·          Development of leaders through education and awards systems.

  • Non-profit capacity building and civic engagement.


In short, the goal of PARSA is to bring Iranian-American donors and grant seekers together acting as an umbrella group or a conduit to effectively fund projects that will serve the interests of the Iranian-Americans. This is a noble idea, and with the strong people behind it (who have conquered many obstacles and frontiers), no doubt PARSA will be a success story that will result in a stronger community. 


It is worth noting some background about the Iranian-American community. Following are highlights of a report (published in January 2004) titled Iranian-Americans Reported Among Most Highly Educated in U.S.:

  • Iranian-Americans contribute substantially to the U.S. economy
  • According to 2000 U.S. census, there are 338,000 Iranian-Americans
  • According to research by the Iranian Studies Group at MIT:
    • Actual number of Iranian-Americans may top 691,000
    • Iranian-Americans are among the most highly educated people in the country.
    • More than one in four Iranian-Americans holds a master's or doctoral degree.
    • Researchers identified more than 50 Iranian-Americans in senior leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies.
    • There are more than 500 Iranian-American professors teaching and doing research at top-ranked U.S. universities.


This report illustrates is the significant presence of Iranian-Americans in the economy and education fields. But at the same time, it displays the noticeable absence of this powerful group from the political and electoral arena. Fortunately that has been changing. Several Iranian-American national groups have been created in the last five years to address this gap. Among them are the following:


But let’s face it. We have a long way to go. Also, we live in an extreme capitalist society where, like it or not, money rules. Without spending, one can only go so far; and many projects simply won’t take off, or they will fail along the way. This is where PARSA comes into play. PARSA puts in place a network to distribute funds for projects that strengthen the Iranian-American community, build its awareness and identity, and encourages it to actively participate in the electoral process.


One of the first projects of PARSA was funding of the Norooz banners in the City of Irvine, California. What a great way to send a positive and beautiful message about the community on this festive occasion!



Norooz Banners in Streets of Irvine, California



Another project was providing a grant to Ashoka Foundation to financially support, for three years, an Ashoka Fellow of Iranian origin, anywhere in the world that Ashoka operates (see Ashoka Begins Search for Persian Change Maker). According to the announcement: This grant reflects the mission of PARSA Community Foundation to practice strategic philanthropy and promote social entrepreneurship in support of a vibrant global Iranian community. “Persians' tradition of public service and capacity for entrepreneurship are natural assets to leverage towards community betterment.


Then in June 2007, PARSA completed the first round of its two semi-annual grant cycles with $114,000 going to six powerful ideas.  Youth leadership, preservation of Persian history, promotion of cultural understanding and civic integration were the common themes among the groups receiving the grants. The organizations that were awarded grants to are Promises Films, Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, Iranian Alliances Across Borders, Children's Hope International Literacy and Development, Persian Student Association - Business Alliance (PSA-BA) at Stanford University, and National Iranian-American Council.


PARSA Community Foundation will be holding its Inaugural Gala on October 20, 2007 in Atherton, California. 


No doubt we will be hearing more from PARSA in the coming months.



Background Information on PARSA


Board of Directors 


Anousheh Ansari

Anousheh Ansari is co-founder and Chairman of Prodea systems, Inc. Her previous business accomplishments include serving as co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies, Inc. On September 18th, 2006, she became the first female Muslim in space, first Iranian-born person in space, and the first female space tourist.  Along with her brother-in-law Amir Ansari, she made a multi-million dollar contribution to the X-Prize foundation on May 5, 2004, the 43rd anniversary of Alan Shepard's sub-orbital spaceflight. The X-Prize was officially renamed the Ansari X Prize in honor of their donation. She is also a co-founder of PARSA Community Foundation.


Born in 1966 in Mashhad, Iran, Ansari witnessed the Iranian revolution in 1979. She immigrated to the United States in 1984 as a teenager who did not speak English. She has a B.S. degree in Electronics and Computer Engineering from George Mason University and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University.



Noosheen Hashemi

Noosheen Hashemi is a philanthropist with a passion for entrepreneurship and economic development. Since 2003, she has led her family’s charitable giving through The H.A.N.D. Foundation which has committed significant resources to research and capacity building.  She is co-founder and the Chairman of PARSA Community Foundation.


Between 1985 and 1995, she worked at Oracle where she took active part in software’s meteoric rise as an industry. She was appointed Director of Finance and Administration in 1988 and named VP in 1990. In 1991, she won Oracle's "Against All Odds Award" for her role in the company's financial turnaround. After becoming a Stanford Sloan Fellow in 1993, she became VP of Marketing and Business Development for Oracle’s Worldwide Education business. In 1996, Ms. Hashemi joined, a profitable finance portal, where she was VP of Sales and Marketing.


Ms. Hashemi serves on the board of the New America Foundation. She holds a B.S. in Economics from San Jose State University an M.S. in Management from Stanford's Graduate School of Business.


Salar Kamangar

Salar Kamangar, VP of Product Management oversees Google's advertising and monetization products, including the AdWords program. He joined Google in 1999. During his first year, he created the company's first business plan and was responsible for its legal and finance functions. From there, Salar became a founding member of Google's product team, where he worked on consumer projects including the acquisition of DejaNews and the subsequent launch of Google Groups. In 2001, Salar led a small engineering team to define and launch the AdWords product in order to monetize the company's growing search traffic. Later, AdWords served as the foundation for Google's syndication on partner sites, including AOL, and today serves as the engine that drives Google's advertising revenue. Mr. Kamangar is a co-founder of PARSA Community Foundation.


Salar earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences with Honors from Stanford University.


Omid Kordestani

Omid Kordestani is Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development at Google. He is directly responsible for worldwide revenue generation as well as the day-to-day operations of the company's sales organization. He joined in May 1999 as Google's "business founder," leading the development and implementation of the company's initial business model. Since then he has brought Google to profitability in record time, generating more than $6 billion in revenue in 2005. Mr. Kordestani is a co-founder of PARSA Community Foundation.


Omid has more than 20 years of high technology consumer and enterprise experience, holding key positions at Netscape Communications, The 3DO Company, Go Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard.


Omid received an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1991 and a BS degree in electrical engineering from San Jose State University in 1984.


Hamid Moghadam

Hamid Moghadam is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of AMB Property Corporation, a leading global developer and owner of industrial real estate. Mr. Moghadam co-founded AMB in 1983 and led the company through its initial public offering in 1997 (NYSE: AMB).


Mr. Moghadam has held a number of strategic roles within the real estate industry. He is the former Chairman of National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT) and the Real Estate Investment Trust Political Action Committee (REITPAC). He served as a director of Plum Creek Timber Company (NYSE: PCL) and was a founding member of the Real Estate Roundtable.


Mr. Moghadam is a Trustee of Stanford University, serves as a director of Stanford Management Company, and sits on the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council and its Campaign Steering Committee. As an active participant in the San Francisco Bay area community, he has served or currently is serving on various philanthropic and community boards including the California Academy of Sciences, Town School for Boys, and as Chairman of Young Presidents Organization’s (YPO) Northern California Chapter. 


He is a past winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and has been named CEO of the Year on six different occasions by three separate industry publications. He also received NAREIT’s Industry Leadership Award in 2005. Mr. Moghadam received SB and SM degrees in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.


AMB Property Corporation® is a leading global developer and owner of industrial real estate, focused on major hub and gateway distribution markets throughout North America, Europe and Asia. AMB invests in properties located predominantly in the infill submarkets of its targeted markets. The company’s portfolio is comprised of High Throughput Distribution® facilities—industrial properties built for speed and located near airports, seaports and ground transportation systems.


Dr. Camran Nezhat

Dr. Camran Nezhat, MD F.A.C.O.G., F.A.C.S, is a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility sub specialist who has been practicing medicine and surgery at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto since 1993.

He is the pioneer and leading practitioner in the field of laparoscopic surgery, specializing in laparoscopic treatment of severe endometriosis involving multiple organs, management of infertility and other pathologies.

Dr. Nezhat has been called the father of modern day laparoscopy due to his numerous innovations and inventions in the field of minimally invasive surgery.  His techniques, foresight, innovations and courage has revolutionized modern day endoscopic surgery, which has been called the most significant advancement in surgery since the discovery of antibiotics.

Amongst others he is the forerunner of technique of video laparoscopy and is the first surgeon in the world to treat and report surgical management of extensive pathology laparoscopically, thus opening the road for surgeons all over the world to follow.




Advisory Board

PARSA Community Foundation’s advisory board is made up of the following prominent individuals who are active in the field of philanthropy and social entrepreneurship, and have committed to providing guidance to PARSA:


Laura Arrillaga

William Drayton

Vartan Gregorian

Laurene Powell Jobs

Matthew Symonds



PARSA Community Foundation:

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