Board of Directors

The Board of Directors oversees Harvard Iranian Alumni and manages its initiatives.

 

 
 
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soraya gheissari alexander

Soraya is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Soraya currently works as the Director of Loyalty, Personalization, and Marketing Business Systems at Dick’s Sporting Goods, overseeing marketing technology, customer engagement, and customer relationship management. Her background is in customer experience, digital innovation, and media strategy. She previously worked at Time Inc. in New York, PBS in Los Angeles, and Fenton Communications in Washington, DC. 
t HBS, Soraya served as Co-President of the Women’s Student Association and Marketing Director of the Social Enterprise Club.

Soraya currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA where she spends her weekends hiking, biking, and exploring with her husband, daughter, and two cats (though the cats prefer to stay home during those adventures).

 

 
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Arya bolurfrushan

Arya is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Arya is the Chief Executive Officer of the Bolurfrushan International Group, General Manager & Chief Financial Officer of RAK Petroleum, General Partner of Emerge Ventures, Director of Arya Insurance and Director of Elevision Media.

At RAK Petroleum, Arya is the General Manager and CFO of the largest non-state oil company in the Middle East. Arya was instrumental in taking RAK Petroleum public on the Oslo Børs and growing the firm five-fold from joining in 2010. Arya has also invested in 36 startups at various stages of maturity. Arya was previously at Goldman Sachs’s internal think tank in New York - the Investment Strategy Group. Arya advised the firm’s partners, largest institutional and private clients.

Arya was honoured as a Global Shaper on behalf of the World Economic Forum, serves on the board of the Young Presidents Organization's Greater MENA Chapter, was elected on the founding board of the Next Generation of Energy Leaders by the United Nations' World Energy Forum's and awarded the Global Power 30 under 30.

 

 
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Sharam fouladgar-mercer

Sharam is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Sharam is the Co-Founder, Founding CEO, and Board Director at AirPR, a technology solution to measure the impact of PR. He was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Shasta Ventures focused on consumer internet and the social graph. Prior to joining Shasta, Sharam was a Venture Capitalist at Sierra Ventures focused on consumer internet, enterprise software (cloud computing / virtualization), and mobile. He served on the Board at Makara (sold to RedHat) and TouchCommerce (sold to Nuance).

Sharam began his career as an early employee at Appian, a BPM software startup where he managed the first enterprise-wide tracking system for the Department of Homeland Security. Sharam has lectured at universities, events and conferences, and judged business plan competitions at Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, and Syracuse. He is also an advisor to Correlation Ventures, Clearbanc, and Top Hat, eLab (Princeton University's Accelerator), Dorm Room Fund (First Round Capital's Accelerator), and Acceleprise (Enterprise Technology Accelerator).

Sharam graduated with honors with a BS in Computer Science from Princeton University. He played NCAA D 1 ice hockey and is fluent in Farsi.

 

 
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yasaman hadjibashi

Yasaman is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Yasaman is a business, data, and technology executive, who is currently Managing Director at Citi leading Data for the Global Consumer Bank based in Dallas, US. Prior to this, she led the innovation agenda for Barclays Africa Group across all business units for the entire continent as their Group Chief Creation Officer, based in Johannesburg, South Africa This also entailed the bank's accelerator program in partnership with Techstars as well as their physical Innovation Hub called RISE based in Cape Town.  Yasaman was appointed to Barclays Africa Group's first ever Chief Data Officer at the age of 32, making her one of the youngest female C-level leaders in a big legacy institution such as Barclays in the emerging fields of Big data, Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence. She defined and led the bank's big data transformation across all businesses for the continent, launching an award-winning portfolio of innovative data products changing digital customer experiences. Her products portfolio to date has won the 2017 Gartner Excellence Award for Best Global Advanced Analytics and Data Science as well as the 2017 EMEA Gartner Eye on Innovation Award for the Most Innovative Digital Business Model. 

Born in Tehran, Yasaman grew up in Hamburg, Germany. She also holds Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Berkeley. 

 

 
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Sherry hakimi

Sherry is a graduate of Harvard Kennedy School.

Sherry is the Executive Director of genEquality, a nonprofit organization using behavioral science and creative design to advance gender equality. Prior to genEquality, Sherry worked with a high-caliber roster of technology, media, and finance companies in an organizational design capacity.

Prior to genEquality, Sherry worked for the City of New York, where she led strategic planning and operations projects for multiple economic development entities under the Bloomberg administration. Prior to her time in public service, Sherry worked in marketing and communications at Reebok, Harvard Business School, and Iranian Alliances Across Borders. Sherry is an active member of the Iranian American community, and continues to advise and work with several nonprofit Iranian diaspora organizations.

At the Kennedy School, Sherry served as Student Government President. Her writings have been published in the Kennedy School Review and Fast Company, among others. She is a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project. A New England native, Sherry has also lived in Iran and Spain.

 

 
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nellie kargar

Nellie is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

 Nellie is a Certified Public Accountant and currently works as the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for ICI Homes in Daytona Beach, FL. Previously Ms. Kargar held positions as a Senior Financial Analyst for Amazon and Division Controller / Financial Analyst for ICI Homes. 

 Nellie currently serves as Vice Chair of the Food Brings Hope Executive Board, Treasurer of the Hope Place Building Committee, Board Member of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation, Board Member and Treasurer of Harvard Iranian Alumni, Vice-Chair of Operations of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans’ Emerging Leaders and Board Member of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s Eagle Athletic Association. In 2013 and 2017, Nellie was selected by the Volusia Flagler Business Report as a “40 Under 40” business leader. 

 Nellie currently resides in Ormond Beach, FL and enjoys life as an avid foodie and aspiring golfer.

 

 
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ario keshani

Ario is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Ario Keshani is an experienced entrepreneur, angel investor, and technology executive. Most recently, he was CEO and co-founder of Split Technology, Inc., a transportation technology startup that was acquired by Volkswagen in 2017. Prior to being acquired, Split delivered a revolutionary shared rides transportation service that utilized advanced technology to instantly connect people traveling in the same direction. Today, Split’s original algorithms and technology underpin all of Volkswagen’s ridesharing and ridepooling projects. 

Prior to Split, Ario was Vice President of Business Development at Transdev On Demand, responsible for building Transdev’s business in North America. In that role, Ario’s work resulted in the launch of businesses in markets all around the US. Earlier in his career, Ario launched souschef meals, a ready-to-cook food delivery startup in New York, built two taxicab companies, and spent time as a Business Designer at IDEO, the world’s leading design firm, and as a strategy consultant at Capgemini, a leading technology and strategy consulting firm.

Ario has been featured in numerous publications and interviews, including the Washington Post, Forward Thinking Radio at SiriusXM, and Vox.com. He received a B.S., cum laude, in International Political Economy from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Services.

 

 
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cameron khansarinia

Cameron Khansarinia is a graduate of Harvard College. 

Cameron is currently an Analyst on BlackRock’s client business team. Writing his honors thesis in political theory under Professor Harvey C. Mansfield, he received a degree in Government. In his time at the College, he was active in the Institue of Politics and served as Student Body Vice President. He also served as Chair of the Harvard Iranian Gala for three years, working alongside a talented team of fellow students. 

Cameron's focus on Iran has stretched the length of his academic career. He has served several Iranian human rights organizations in communications, research, and strategic roles. 

When not at the office or on a HIA conference call, you can find Cameron on the tennis or squash court or (depending on the season) still acclimating to East Coast winters. 

 

 
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ava nasrollazadeh

Ava is a graduate of Harvard College.

She is a Consultant the the Boston Consulting Group, where she focuses her work on clients in the Consumer Goods and Healthcare industries. At BCG, she is grateful for the opportunity to partner with local organizations and global NGOs to support arts and gender equality initiatives.

At the College, Ava graduated with honors  in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Global Health & Health Policy. She was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant recipient, and her research at Fudan University focused on Type II diabetes. Outside of the classroom, she focused her time on building the communities that meant the most to her. In the undergraduate community, she served as Student Body President, where she led policy work to address campus sexual assault issues and introduced 2 mobile apps--Omni and Ventfull--to centralize campus resources for students.

Within the Iranian community, Ava co-founded the Harvard Iranian Gala, and is excited to continue being a part of its growth through the annual Harvard Iranian Weekend. Born and raised in the midwest, Ava now spends her time between New York and California. She attributes her constant tahdig cravings to her Iranian heritage!

 

 
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arta tabaee

Arta is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Mr. Tabaee is a Principal at Clearlake Capital Group where he focuses on private equity and special situations investments in the consumer and industrials sectors.  Prior to joining Clearlake, he was an investment professional at H.I.G. Capital. Before that, Mr. Tabaee was a Senior Associate at TPG in the North American Buyouts Group. Prior to TPG, he was a member of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at Morgan Stanley & Co. 

Mr. Tabaee graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. in Economics and a minor in Spanish from Duke University. He received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.  

Mr. Tabaee grew up in New York and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

 

 

HIA Advisory Board

The HIA Board of Directors is fortunate to have a top-tier Advisory Board. The HIA Advisory Board provides guidance, mentorship, and support for HIA's initiatives and activities.

 
 
 
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Cyrus Amir-Mokri

General Counsel, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Corporate and Investment Bank
Cyrus is currently the General Counsel at JP Morgan Chase & Co's Corporate and Investment Bank. Previous to that, he was a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and the Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Treasury Department. 

Cyrus was a senior legal and policy advisor to the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He participated in the legislative process that led to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act and subsequent implementation through rulemaking. He also served as the agency’s deputy representative to the Financial Stability Oversight Council and as liaison for inter-agency affairs. 

Cyrus is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor given for outstanding contributions by immigrants to the United States. Cyrus is a graduate of Harvard College.

 

 

Roy Mottahedeh

Gurney Professor of History, Harvard University
Born in New York City on July 3, 1940, Professor Mottahedeh received his primary and secondary education in Quaker schools in New York and Pennsylvania. Professor Mottahedeh graduated magna cum laude in history from Harvard College, undertook a second B.A. in Persian and Arabic at Cambridge University, and received his PhD in 1970 from Harvard University.

Professor Mottahedeh began his teaching career at Princeton University in 1970, and joined Harvard’s faculty in 1986 as Professor of Islamic History in the History Department. In 1994 Professor Mottahedeh was appointed Gurney Professor of History. He also served as the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University from 1987 to 1990, and as Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University from 2006 to 2011.

Professor Mottahedeh's publications include Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society (1980); The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran (1985); The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, co-edited with Angeliki Laiou (2001); and Lessons in Islamic Jurisprudence (2003).

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rouzbeh Pirouz

Senior Partner at Pelican Partners
Rouzbeh is a Senior Partner at Pelican Partners, a private equity and real estate investment firm in London. Previously, Rouzbeh was Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mondus, a pioneering electronic procurement business in Europe, which culminated in a share sale to Telecom Italia. 

Rouzbeh has been at the forefront of trying to develop world class management education institutions and programmes in the Middle East. Rouzbeh is a Trustee of several UK charities and sits on the Middle East advisory boards of a number of leading think tanks. 

Rouzbeh was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. Rouzbeh received his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees at Stanford University and Harvard University, respectively.

 

 

Cumrun Vafa

Donner Professor of Science, Harvard University
Professor Cumrun Vafa is Donner Professor of Science at Harvard University. Professor Vafa is a string theorist. His research is focused on the nature of quantum gravity and the relation between geometry and quantum field theories. 

Professor Vafa is known in the string theory community for his co-discovery, with Professor Andrew Strominger, that the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy of a black hole can be accounted for by solitonic states of superstring theory, and for expounding the relation between geometry and field theories that arise through string dualities (culminating in the Gopakumar-Vafa conjecture).  

rofessor Vafa is a recipient of the 2008 Dirac Medal and currently a trustee of Network of Iranians for Knowledge and Innovation (NIKI).

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Roxane Zand

Deputy Chairman at Sotheby's, Middle East and Gulf Region
Harvard- and Oxford-educated, Roxane Zand began a career in museum and arts administration after three years in UNESCO. She left Iran after the Revolution to resume professional activities in London in the field of education and the arts, and as one of the founding members of the Harvard Club of London.

Ms Zand was an officer of the Iran Heritage Foundation before moving to Asia House, as well as a freelance consultant for numerous projects for the British Museum and elsewhere in the art world before joining Sotheby’s in 2006 where she is now Deputy Chairman for the Middle East. Currently she sits on the Advisory Council of the Pictet Art Prize, the Development Board of the University of the Arts London, and has been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London for her services to Middle Eastern art and culture. She is also arts editor for the Encyclopedia Islamica.

At Sotheby’s, Roxane has played an instrumental role in developing and contributing to sales of Arab and Iranian art, and has conducted a number of charity auctions to benefit causes in the MENA region.