Home: Duxbury, MA. Age: Older than I look, a blessing and a curse. Forty-something. Birthplace: Tehran, Iran. Profession: Nonprofit executive, educator, restorative justice advocate, mental health professional. Organization: VISIONS, Inc. (Vigorous InterventionS In Ongoing Natural Settings). Title: CEO/Executive Director. Pronouns: She/They. Alma mater: UC San Diego (BA, Political Science/Sociology); Southwestern Law School (JD); University of San Diego (MA, Peace and Justice: Conflict Resolution/Human Rights Advocacy); University of Southern California (MSW, Adult Mental Health; Geriatric Health Fellowship); Northeastern University (EdD). Languages spoken: English, Farsi, Krio. Basic French and Arabic. Conversational Spanish.
Current project: Expanding our organization to include restorative justice (RJ) more explicitly, and reviving our psychotherapy program (trauma healing at all 4 levels: personal, interpersonal, cultural, institutional). Recent recognition: Invited to give two presentations at the upcoming International Restorative Justice Conference in Sassari: 1) Conflict over the Nile; 2) Doing RJ through an Anti-Racist Lens. Recent professional development: Getting trained in EMDR (ongoing). Latest accomplishment: Our organizational income grew by 200%. What’s been your big (or biggest leap)? Starting to be more comfortable with my voice/story, doing my first podcasts. Continuing to present at conferences, etc. Applying for my current position two and a half years ago. Hobbies: Travel and anything on or in the water. Recent travel or adventure: Flying on a plane anywhere has been interesting lately; Valle de Guadalupe, Sardinia, upcoming in fall – Malta, Montenegro/Albania, northern Africa (pre-COVID, tried to do three new countries per year). Last book read: A Woman Is No Man, by Etaf Rum. Recently viewed and recommended: Searching for Italy (CNN); My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Prime). Recent unique acquisition: My MSW degree.
Personality profile: A friendly introvert. Connector, positive, empath, adaptable. A social justice advocate, striving for liberation (for all). What one word would your closest friend use to describe you? Heart. Moral compass: “Inner compass that points towards what is right and fair” (from a friend). How do you define a perfect friendship? Enjoyable, trusting, still connected after time apart. How do you define an ideal business relationship? Trusting, building, connecting resources; collaborative/non-competitive, respectful. What is your greatest joy? Time with my boys. What is your greatest fear? Losing loved ones (family). What is your guilty pleasure? Travel and food shows. What word or phrase do you use far too often? I “love” everything. What natural talent(s) have you neglected? Swimming, piano, languages. What is your favorite place (or way) to spend money? REI; bookstores, travel. What is at the top of your bucket list? Experiencing every country; seeing the world more at (both negative and positive) peace (fed, housed, loved/accepted, etc.). How do you relieve stress? Breathing, meditation and reading; exercise, nature and hugs. What is your go-to workout? Strength training, Pilates, yoga. Previously, swimming. What ingredient is essential to your perfect vacation? Adventure, new experiences, culture, good food. Depending on circumstances, water is involved.
What was your first paying job? Well, if I’d sold anything, selling Cutco knives. What was your favorite college course? History of Drugs (Sociology). What was your favorite childhood toy or game? A doll my maternal grandmother knit for me (I still have “her”). What book have you repeatedly read? The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. What movie have you repeatedly watched? Friday; Zorba the Greek; Elf, Love Actually. What’s prominently featured on your home or office wall? Art from my time in (mostly) West Africa. Besides your parents, who has had the greatest influence on your life? Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. What’s the best advice you received growing up? See as much of the world as you can. What’s the best advice you received in your career? Teamwork makes the dream work. What modern technology innovation do you most appreciate? My fridge. What is your favorite app? Duolingo. What is your go-to source of news and information? A variety, to get a larger picture of the “truth”, including NPR, PBS, BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN. And, where possible and relevant, going directly to the person the information is about. What is your go-to source of creative inspiration? Travel. What company or organization do you most admire? Ours! Our founders have done an amazing job doing this important work for four decades. As Black women in the south, they were able to create a sustainable and impactful organization. What world event has had the greatest influence on your life? Iranian Revolution then Iran Hostage. Before then, my family happily lived and thrived in Iran; after that, both their own country changed dramatically AND how the world perceived Iran changed dramatically.
To connect the world, one song/bite/sip/story/dance at a time.
What change would you like to see in the world? Liberation; both positive and negative peace (lack of conflict AND lack of inequitable institutions); more connectedness and appreciation of differences; greater kindness and love toward one another. What message do you want to send out into the world? Connection leads to understanding, which in turn, leads to empathy. What mega-trend most excites you? Working from home 🙂️. What mega-trend most concerns you? Nationalism, isolation, lack of information, avoidance of contact.
What title would you choose for the movie about your life? Enough. What actor would you choose to play you in the movie about your life? Nazanin Boniadi or Melanie Chandra. Who would you like to spend an evening with, in heaven? My maternal Grandpa, who passed when I was 10. Also, my father’s mom, whom I never got to meet. As a kid, what did you first want to be when you grew up? A journalist; a marine biologist; a Supreme Court Justice. After your loved ones, what object would you first save from your burning home? Our passports. And a baby blanket and doll my grandmother made for me when I was born. How would you choose to spend tomorrow, if you knew it was your last day on earth? With loved ones eating my favorite foods and outside in nature and on the water. What advice would you give your younger self? You are enough. You are perfect just being who you are (don’t worry about what anyone else thinks). What period in your life would you do differently, if you could? None. Everything has brought me to where I am today.
Personal mission: Loving others and truly seeing them in order to understand them and the world around us. Favorite quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” (Marianne Williamson). Desired epitaph: A life truly lived and loved.