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Celebrating Iranian American Leaders and the Iran Opportunities Fund

Source: The Institute of International Education (IIE)


The Institute of International Education (IIE) is proud to honor three women from the Iranian  American community in New York -  Laya Khadjavi, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, and Nazgol Saati Shahbazi - with the first-ever IIE Women's Global Leadership Award at the organization's 90th anniversary gala in New York on Wednesday, September 23rd.


IIE is celebrating these women for their leadership in involving the Iranian community in the U.S. in improving cultural and educational relations between Iran and the United States.


The Iran Opportunities Fund, established by these three remarkable women together with IIE Trustee Maryam Panahy Ansary, is a unique public-private partnership dedicated to fostering mutual understanding through international educational exchange. Over the past three years the program has brought more than thirty Iranian graduate students to the United States to teach Persian at colleges and universities across the country, due in large part to Laya, Roya and Nazgol's passion and generosity. 


Institute of International Education

809 United Nations Plaza | New York, NY 10017


Co-founders of the Iran Opportunities Fund and Recipients of the Inaugural IIE Women's Global Leadership Award


Laya Khadjavi is a Managing Director and head of the Markets Group of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.  Throughout her 22-year career at Morgan Stanley, Laya has held a succession of leadership and senior management positions in the Firm's Institutional Securities Group before joining the Wealth Management division in 2008. Laya began her professional career at Salomon Brothers in 1984.


Laya is a co-founder and staunch supporter of the Iran Opportunities Fund under the auspices of the Institute of International Education. Laya is a member of the Board of Directors of Wildcat Service Corporation, a member of the Board of Trustees of Resurrection Episcopal Day School in Manhattan, and a Trustee of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans.  In 2008 Laya received The Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award.


Laya holds a BS in applied mathematics-economics and a BA in French literature from Brown University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.  Laya, her husband Hamid Biglari and their two children Roxana and Mandana live in New York City.



Roya Khadjavi Heidari is a strong proponent of understanding and peace through international exchange. She brings this awareness to New York City by sponsoring events that feature Iran's rich heritage. She is active at the  Institute of International Education, and co-founder of the Iran Opportunities Fund which provides young Iranian scholars with a unique opportunity to teach the Persian language at over 20 U.S. colleges and universities.


Roya serves on the board of trustees of the Lycee Francais de New York, focusing on leading the school's fundraising efforts. In 2008 she became the recipient of the most prestigious academic award by the French Minister of Education and was nominated Chevalier dans l'Ordres des Palmes Academiques, for her service to the French culture.


A Wellesley College graduate, Roya began her career in fashion merchandising in 1984. She left Lord & Taylor in 1994 to become the vice president of sales and marketing for Yves Saint Laurent ready-to-wear in North America.  Roya is married to Massoud Heidari and has two children, Layla and Amir.



Nazgol Saati Shahbazi was born in Tehran, Iran where she lived until 1978. She earned her BA in economics and political science from Tufts University and received her MBA in finance from Columbia Business School in 1985.


She then joined Bankers Trust Company where her fifteen year career spanned from the LBO Group in Los Angeles to the Private Equity, Restructuring Advisory and Distressed Debt Trading Groups in New York. She is currently working with KSPartners, a family owned real estate investment and management company.


Nazgol is involved with numerous charitable organizations for Iran and children around the world, including The Popli Charitable Foundation and The Learning Leaders. Along with Ms. Khadjavi and Ms. Heidari, Nazgol has co-founded the Iran Opportunity Fund to promote peace and improve cultural and educational relations between Iran and the United States. She lives in New York City with her husband, Kambiz Shahbazi, and two children, Sarvenaz and Tirdad.

... Payvand News - 09/17/09 ... --

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