The Freedom Sculpture – A Shared Dream
With Fourth of July, Independence Day (United States) just around the corner, I can’t help but think about our nation’s visionary founders, and the many great leaders who have followed in their footsteps, dedicated to not only preserving but also improving upon the vision set forth by our founders. As a former refugee and immigrant from Iran, now a citizen of this great nation for nearly 25 years, I am a beneficiary of the American Dream, conceived by our founders, hundreds of years ago.
This year, Fourth of July holds an even greater significance for me. Right here, in my hometown of Los Angeles, Farhang Foundation, together with the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Paul Koretz, will be hosting the L.A. Freedom Festival, a celebration of diversity and unity in Los Angeles. At this event, The Freedom Sculpture designed by Cecil Balmond O.B.E. and realized by the ARYA Group will be unveiled; an interpretation of the Cyrus Cylinder, an ancient Persian artifact widely considered to be the first declaration of human rights and individual freedoms (proclaimed by Cyrus the Great some 2,500 years ago).
Dubbed the “Statue of Liberty of the West”, The Freedom Sculpture will be a monumental gift to the City of Los Angeles on behalf of the one million-plus donors who have generously contributed to the project. A permanent fixture in the heart of Los Angeles, this monument is to stand as a testament to the values of Cyrus the Great, values that are reflected in the U.S. Constitution and values that epitomize the tolerant and harmonious spirit of Angelenos.
As both an Iranian-American (present-day Iran was once known as Persia) and a diehard Angeleno, I am so proud of this effort. But there is another, more personal twist to my pride.
I joined Farhang Foundation when it first launched in 2008, as a non-religious, non-political, and not-for-profit organization on a mission to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture for the benefit of the community at large. A couple of years later, I became its executive director, a role in which I had the honor to serve until a little over three years ago when I left to join GENBAND. During my tenure at Farhang, I had the privilege of working alongside a passionate and dynamic Board of Trustees, led by the visionary Ali C. Razi, founder and chairman. I learned so much from him, all the Farhangees as we called everyone who was part of the organization, the community, the generous supporters of Farhang, as well as our colleagues at various universities, museums, academic and artistic institutions with whom we collaborated to propel Farhang’s mission. Being a witness to its growth and prosperity year after year was a truly fulfilling experience – both personally and professionally – I felt privileged to be given the ‘Farhangee Forever’ title upon departure in April 2014.
Today, the Foundation continues to thrive and the July 4th occasion is a stellar example of it!
One of the main goals of Farhang is to shine light on the positive contributions of Iranian culture to the world through endeavors such as the Iranian Studies Program at USC, a signature annual Nowruz (Iranian New Year) Celebration, and of course The Cyrus Cylinder Exhibition at the Getty Villa in October 2013, where the idea of The Freedom Sculpture was first formed and has now culminated with this historic public unveiling in the coming days.
I have always been a believer that while two nations may have an adversarial relationship, this does not have to be the case between their citizenry. By fostering cultural understanding through the efforts of community organizations, perhaps we can build bridges between people and show that at our core, we share similar values.
And finally, I could personally not agree more with the words of Mayor Garcetti reflecting on this historic occasion – he says:
“The ideas of multiculturalism of religious tolerance, of human rights, it is not something that has just been invented. It is something that is an eternal human instinct. We are doing something not just for one community, but for all of us. In this moment in America, don’t you think we need to find those bridges towards each other, not walls that divide each other?”
So this Fourth of July, as I celebrate America, I will also proudly celebrate the unveiling of The Freedom Sculpture in Los Angeles, knowing that this historic monument will someday be a pillar to a bridge.
To join the grand festivities, complete with fireworks, Persian delicacy and live entertainment, offered FREE of charge to all, visit freedomsculpture.org.
Nurses come into our lives and families at the most important and tender times. What would we do without them? Today, around the world, we are celebrating International Nurses Day, on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, and today in New York City, at the United Nations, our friend and inspiration, Deb O’Hara Ruscowski, a RN, […]
In a high school near Princeton, New Jersey, home of the highest ranked university in the world producing some of the greatest minds, innovations and companies in history, and famous for Albert Einstein, students lead by an inspiring educator have built an online tutoring platform where young people around the world can help each other […]
Face Forward Mends the Lives of Victims of Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking and Other Cruel Acts of Crime It is impossible for those of us who live in loving relationships and families, who have the resources to lead comfortable lives, to imagine the pain and suffering of children and adults who are beaten, burned and […]
What Happened on September 11 Has Inspired Millions to Never Give Up or Lose Hope, Even Under the Most Difficult Circumstances I was born on September 11 and feel honored each year to have the opportunity to look back on what happened on that day in 2001, not because of what the terrorists destroyed, but because […]
Iranian Baha’is Have a Human Right to Advance Through Study While Practicing Their Faith Education Is Not A Crime; a campaign that raises awareness of human rights abuses in Iran, is committed to protecting the rights of young people who have been barred from studying due to their beliefs, and encourages universities worldwide to admit […]
Fine Artist Zaria Forman’s Quiet & Powerful Activism Zaria Forman‘s pastel drawings transcend photorealism, bringing the eye and heart into a mystery so strong the mind begins to work differently. Inspired by her mother, Rena Bass Forman, who planned an expedition to Greenland but never made it when she succumbed to brain cancer, Zaria honored […]
We never know where innovation will rise, and for what meaningful purposes. This week, I learned about a project being led by a young 22-year old engineer name Madindra Aryal in Katmandu, Nepal who witnessed the devastating earthquake there and was inspired to invent a solar-powered panel able to light streets, homes and charge mobile […]
Let’s Give Girls in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Other Countries Guitars That Can Inspire Kids Everywhere What started out for the renowned rock guitarist Lanny Cordola as a single trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, to meet and comfort a family that lost two young daughters in a tragic suicide bombing, has turned into a mission to teach girls […]
On this Fathers’ Day, as we are all still trying to process the most recent tragedy in Orlando, I’m honored to share the story of a remarkable man. Iran Nazario continues to dedicate his life to eliminating gang warfare in Hartford, Connecticut while sharing his own life story, his strength and his philosophy to contribute […]
After emerging as a movement in the last decade, Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programs are starting to graduate children who have evolved into impressive young adults – and our future will be in their very capable hands and hearts.Photo: WindwardSchool.org On Friday, the Windward School’s Class of 2016 graduated, moving forward as responsible, well informed and inspired […]
Some human’s journeys are more personal than others. For my friend Reza Pakravan, his life’s journey is personal and passionate as he continues to race around the world living his best life, while drawing attention to some of the world’s greatest challenges. In March 2011, Reza set the world record for the fastest crossing of […]
Sometimes life throws challenges at us we simply cannot understand. Then a light comes on and a single individual recognizes the gift that adversity delivers, and has a crystal clear sense of their purpose. Such is the case with a woman I admire so deeply. Her story is personal, and so is mine. Brandy McFadden […]
It’s a good, busy day today, reflecting on and sharing my thoughts and love with so many amazing social entrepreneurs who are benefiting from the great work the team at Giving Tuesday has been doing over the last few years to bring awareness to the joy that comes from giving. I’ve never been a fan […]
It is no secret that I am keenly interested in innovation across a variety of fields. Innovation is the result of passion, determination, and a great deal of hard work. At its best, innovation – whether in the field of technology, economics, or social justice – leads to the betterment of lives. When I think […]
Pari Forood is the first generation Iranian-American author of the true-life novel, The Gates of Light, published in May 2015. After graduating from Vassar College, she was the Press Secretary to Congressman Hamilton Fish, Jr. in Washington, D.C. where she was inspired to write her book about the issue of immigration, both as a policy […]
For my friends Sultan and Kate Meghji, 2015 has been year of joy, achievement and sudden loss. Even as they were preparing to introduce their family foundation, inspired by decades of service by earlier generations in India, Africa, and North America – they got the news that their father, genetics pioneer Dr. Moez Meghji, passed away […]
In my continued series on individuals who inspire me and are giving back to the community, I would like to feature author, social media genius, NPR Producer, mother of four and 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient; someone I also get to call my friend, Iran Davar Ardalan. This extraordinary woman has grown-up with […]
With the devastating effects that Ebola has had in West Africa, I am glad to know there are scientific pioneers out there like Dr. Pardis Sabeti leading the charge against this fight and proud to profile her in my ongoing series sharing the accomplishments of inspiring people. Dr. Sabeti led a team that went to […]
Dr. Cori Lathan is one of the most interesting women scientists and entrepreneurs I’ve come across, and it is an honor to share her story as part of my ongoing series of profiles of inspiring people making a big difference. I was introduced to Dr. Lathan through a colleague at my company (GENBAND), when one […]
This picture above says it all about Willy Oppenheim, who co-founded Omprakash while he was in college, after volunteering at a hospice center in northern India. I am honored to feature him in my ongoing series on inspiring people and the movements they ignite! In 2004, Willy met an elderly man suffering from paralysis. “The […]
I’m in Barcelona today, and was unable to attend The J. Luce Foundation’s annual gratitude event that was held last Thursday, February 26th. I was recently introduced to Jim Luce, founder of the Foundation, last fall by a mutual friend, and spent time with him where he is based in New York City. Jim came […]
I’ve been following Box for a while now, as part of my marketing role at GENBAND. We also deliver collaboration tools to large enterprises (different from Box – we focus on real time communications between human beings using voice, video and messaging). But the idea is the same – how can we give people in […]
2014 has been a year of tremendous change, challenge and collective progress across many dimensions in my life, and today I am especially full of gratitude for a growing circle of friends and colleagues. As part of my professional journey and choice to re-enter the “corporate” world and as part of my life’s plan to […]
The Emerging Ecosystem of Goodness Cigdem A Binal, Independent Technology Marketing Strategist (Guest Author to BtheChange.) In a world increasingly run by software, ecosystems have become a powerful and valuable asset in order to stay on top of the rapidly evolving marketplace. With the growth of open source models, and the advancement of applications enriched […]
Today I am happy and honored to share a story about two women who reached across continents and two very different worlds to bring one vision to light. Kwamboka Okari shelters, feeds, clothes, educates, and advocates for 230 orphans in Kisii, Kenya. Peg Campbell heads up the U.S. team on the Board of Directors for […]
Malala Yousafzai captured the world’s attention and respect when she survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Pakistan while she was riding the bus to school on October 10, 2012. She amazingly survived and the international outcry that followed helped to bring further attention to her cause. Malala and her […]
In my ongoing series profiling leaders I admire, I am delighted to show more than I am telling in this post – sharing the beautiful, visual design Lauren Towle has been contributing to non-profits since she graduated from college. I met Lauren through a dear friend nearly ten years ago, and was so impressed with […]
Bita Daryabari is a woman I have admired for many years, both in my vocation (in the communications industry), as well as avocation (in supporting the advancement of Persian arts and culture). Her work speaks louder than her words, though she is a woman of letters, and in 2008 created the Bita Daryabari Endowment in […]
The last two weeks have been incredibly busy, exhausting and inspiring! Thanks for following me half way around the world and back, where in NYC last night, our Summer of Service interns had the honor of meeting the LIG Global Foundation team at the warm and beautiful Gabriel’s restaurant near Lincoln Center. The room was beautiful, […]
Earlier this month, on a business trip to NYC, I met Camelia Entekhabi-Fard for the first time, or so I thought. We had been introduced by a mutual friend, who met Camelia in Kabul, Afghanistan years ago, and stayed connected on Facebook, following each other’s unusual lives quietly without ever having met personally. Or so […]
Last week in New York, I had the great pleasure to meet Judy Shapiro, otherwise known as “Judy Consumer,” and currently founder and CEO of engageSimply. Within minutes, I felt her great energy, and found myself fascinated with her vision for “Engagement Networks” which she is building many of on – or should I say […]
Sometimes the most inspiring people in the world are sitting right in front of you – and part of your closest family. In this post, continuing this series on inspiring people blessing the planet, I am honored to profile Neda Moeini, co-founder & past president of Group of Gold Line, who helped build the business with […]
The next visionary leader I would like to spotlight in my series on Companies, Cultures, and Leaders I Admire is Dr. Phillip Olla, CEO and co-founder of Mobile Diagnostic Services. Throughout his career, Olla has held roles in various sectors, including telecommunications, space, finance, and healthcare, but what truly stands out to me is his […]
Last Friday, I was honored to take part in one of hundreds of volunteer events that occurred around the world as part of my company’s annual “Global Day of Service.” Thousands of employees worked full “eight hour days” and more, helping organizations and people in their local communities. While the GENBAND team volunteers year round, […]
I am full of gratitude today because I have had the honor to transition recently from one dream job to another. For those of you who know me for years, or for my entire life, you know how much leaving the communications industry to help build Farhang Foundation meant to me, personally, professionally and spiritually. […]
As our series profiling visionary leaders who are mashing up business and giving around the world continues, I am honored to feature Chid Liberty, and his Liberty & Justice sustainable .com / .org model. In his twenties, Chid, who is now 34, returned to his home country of Liberia in 2009 to cofound the country’s […]
Updated 07/28/15 I’m grateful to so many of you who have shared your enthusiasm for my new blog, and woke up inspired today to start a new series of posts on people, teams and companies who inspire me. I’m starting with Fasha Mahjoor, one of the leaders I admire most, founder and CEO of Phenomenex. […]
With WebRTC, developers at a company based in Melbourne, Australia have created a connected care application that uses browsers to bring together people with cystic fibrosis around the world with specialists determined to find a cure. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening, genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system with approximately 70,000 […]
It was an honor last week to address one of my favorite organizations in the communications industry – Women in the Channel. I shared with them a vision for the future of “real time communications” delivered in new ways, with new technologies including WebRTC. The worlds of IT and telecom, which are blurring, have long […]
My friends have been encouraging me to start a blog for many years, and a recent change in my career path has finally triggered this first post today. After spending more than a decade in the telecommunications industry starting in the late-90’s, which we called it at the turn of the century, I accepted a […]