Our Team

Our team at Pardis for Children is comprised of teachers with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Some are parents and some are individuals who have devoted their lives to teaching, but all share a love of learning and a dedication to children’s education. Their biographies can be found below.


Sanam Akhlagh - Founder / Executive Director

Sanam Akhlagh is the founder and Executive Director of Pardis for Children. A member of the Iranian diaspora, Sanam was inspired to create Pardis in 2011, following the birth of her first child, to both build a community for the children of Iranian heritage and to a provide a space for both Iranian and non-Iranian children to gain a richer understanding of the Persian language and Iranian culture.

In her role as the Executive Director at Pardis for Children, Sanam oversees all strategic and operational duties. She has led her team in the development of both in-person and virtual educational programming, catering to children of all ages around the world. By creating and publishing original content, including music albums, podcasts, audiobooks, and educational material in both Persian and English, as well as partnering with revered New York institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Asia Society, and NYC Children’s Museums for cultural events, Sanam has ensured that Pardis now reaches well beyond the Iranian community.

Over the years, Sanam has also been involved in countless philanthropic efforts both inside and outside of Iran. From fundraising to help the victims of the 2003 earthquake in Bam, where she flew to Iran to distribute funds to multiple NGOs on the ground, to organizing a documentary film series at NYU, to directing a documentary film herself (The Iron Cradle), Sanam’s mission has been to build a strong community of Iranians living outside the country and to promote the beauty of her culture to the rest of the world.

Sanam earned her BA, Cum Laude, in Operations Research and her MA in Engineering and Management Systems, both from Columbia University. She has served as a consultant for multiple for profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies, including overseeing the Community Partners program for New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunities.

She is also the President of the Board at Pardis for Children and serves on the board of trustees at Brooklyn Children’s Museum as well as Khōréō, a quarterly magazine of speculative fiction and migration. Sanam, her husband, Morad Masjedi and their two sons reside in Brooklyn, New York.


Parham Haghighi - Assistant Executive Director

Parham Haghighi, a New York-based music producer, vocalist, pianist, and educator, traces his musical journey back to Mashhad, Iran, where he grew up in a musically talented family. Nurtured by a deep passion for music from a young age, he began his piano journey through self-teaching and later formal trainings. Parham's musical pursuits evolved as he actively participated in choirs and performed as a keyboardist and singer in a rock band. Despite earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering, he realized his true calling lay in music and embarked on a transformative path at age 27, moving to the United States in 2012 to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Graduating Summa cum Laude in Contemporary Writing and Production with a focus on Vocal Jazz Performance, Parham trained under luminaries such as Javier Limon, Simon Shaheen, and Joyce Moreno. A recipient of Berklee's esteemed "Outstanding Achievement Award," he has graced music festivals and venues across the US as a vocalist and pianist.

With over two decades of experience teaching private and group piano, voice, and theory, he possesses a fervent dedication to education, particularly for children. Since relocating to Brooklyn in 2017, Parham collaborated with Pardis for Children, assuming roles ranging from teaching music classes and leading choirs to becoming the music director and now assistant executive director. Through these endeavors, he ardently pursues his musical path, aspiring to enrich the often-overlooked landscape of Iranian music.


Aida Izadpanah

Born and raised in Tehran, Aida Izadpanah is an award-winning artist and educator living in New York City. She holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology and is a former Teaching Assistant at Art Students League of New York. Aida is author of the book Child, Play and City: Processes, Principles and Criteria for Planning and Design of Children’s Play Spaces (published in Farsi) and co-author of a book in process (in English) about humanitarian visual representations of war-affected children.
She has been a Research Associate in the City University of New York Graduate Center’s distinguished Children’s Environment Research Group, and has designed and led workshops for children at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum, and other cultural institutions in New York City.
Aida creates large-format mixed-media and porcelain sculptural works, paints and teaches painting in her Manhattan art studio. She has had solo exhibitions in New York City and Los Angeles, participated in many group shows, and won a fellowship to paint in Paris, France. She was the 2017 artist in residence in the College of Arts, Culture, and Humanities at Stony Brook University (SUNY), and was featured in a cover story in Lines from the League magazine.

Ali Chitsaz

Ali Chitsaz was born in Tehran, Iran in 1979. He has studied at the Azad University of Tehran and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has exhibited prolifically in Iran in solo and group exhibitions. He has shown internationally in London, Dubai, Cambridge, Chicago, and New York.
Ali reconciles the difference in approaches to painting between his native Persian culture and of his adopted home in America– which would be creating an image in terms of the former and the materiality and surface of the painting in the latter. He employs a process of painting with his hands to achieve joyful and intoxicating compositions. His personal website is: www.alichitsaz.com

Alma Sinai

Alma grew up in Tehran in a family of distinguished artists and was introduced to art, music and different languages since very young age. She began studying Cinematography at Cinema and Theater Department of University of Art in Tehran.While in Iran, she worked as an assistant in an art-workshop with Omid Foundation ( Omid-e Mehr Charity), where she worked with disadvantaged young women and teenage girls. She then moved to the states, switched to painting and received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2012. Alma is currently pursuing her MFA at Parsons the New School for Design. Her personal website is: www.almasinai.com

Armin Antique

Armin Antique (Antighechian) is a New York based songwriter, theater director and illustrator. He has earned his BFA in Theater Directing from Sooreh Art University in Tehran and has directed several plays and composed music for films, documentaries and plays. He has also written scripts for animation series for Iran national TV. Armin has received various awards and nominations for his plays and composing, including the best original score at San Diego Horror movie festival. His play, “two clowns and a half” was chosen as the thesis of the year among theater schools nationwide in Iran which made him the youngest theater director in the history of Fadjr Theater Festival in 2010.
Armin has written several songs and plays for kids and has been teaching children’s Art, music and theater classes in Tehran and NYC since 2010. Armin has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2015. https://aabrang.com/

Ava Nazar

Born in Tehran, Ava has been playing the piano since she was 4 years old. She graduated from Music School of Tehran in 2008, where she was selected as the top performer. Ava has performed as soloist and chamber musician in venues such as the Lerner Hall (Columbia University), Manhattan school of Music and Cell Theatre in New York, and Vahdat Hall, Roudaki Hall, Tehran University and Niavaran Cultural Center in Tehran. She has also been featured at Académies Internationales d'été du Grand Nancy in France. Among her awards in Iran are prizes in the Music Festival for Youth, the Fajr International Music Festival, the Nationwide Festival of Music Academies, the Music Festival for University Students and the Biennial Piano Competition of New Music. Ava released her first CD, Memoires from the conservatory, in 2008 in Iran, which includes recordings of Violin concertos by Oskar Rieding and Ferdinand Küchler accompanied on the Piano. Beyond performing, she has been teaching piano for over 5 years to children. Ava received her bachelor’s degree at Manhattan School of Music. She is currently studying as a recipient of Betty & Daniel Bloomfield fund scholarship at the Juilliard School. www.avanazar.com


Azadeh Shams

Azadeh was born in Iran in 1981. After graduating in Product Design from Florence university, she moved to New York in 2007 where she found her passion in working with children. As she was inspired to focus her work on children's product, she moved back to Italy and got her masters degree in Design and Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano. Azadeh then started working as a designer in Florence, New York City and Milan. In 2018, she founded AZITOYS, a new brand of educational and ecological toys and games, where her passion in Design, languages and children came together. Azadeh is a believer in the importance of language learning in children's development and uses various games to teach language to children. Azadeh has joined Pardis team in Fall 2020.



Bahar Beihaghi

Bahar Beihaghi is a New York City-based actor, born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Holding a BS in civil engineering from University of Tehran, a MFA from Actors Studio Drama school, and trained in Le Coq at L’ECOLE POINT FIXE, she appeared in two international productions in Greece and France as a full time member at Fanous Theater Company. Alongside her other theatrical experiences in Tehran, she worked as an acting coach and Farsi-French Translator for 3 years, for both children and adults. She moved to United States in 2016 to receive her MFA in Acting. She is proud to be one of the co-founders of an Iranian/Iranian American Theater Company named ‘’Peydah”.
Bahar is passionate about teaching Farsi and acting in English, Farsi and French and her vision is to bring her Persian roots to her art as a performer in the West. She is grateful to introduce the Persian culture to Iranian children living in New York through teaching Farsi, performance and music. Bahar has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2017.

Behin Forghanifar

Behin Forghanifar is an architect, interior designer, and design educator born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She moved to the United States in 2017 to pursue a second masters degree, at Parsons School of Design. Behin has taught various arts and architecture workshops at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, and different elementary schools in Tehran for 3 years. In addition, Behin has 12 years of experience playing the Persian Tombak drum, and has instructed music students ages 6-12. Behin joined the talented team at Pardis just after arriving in New York City and is hoping to help encourage the new generation of Iranian American children to learn about Persian art and culture through interactive and enjoyable lessons. Behin loves being an educator and spending time with children as she believes children have always been her best teachers.


Golnaz Esmaili

Golnaz Esmaili was born and raised in Tehran. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Graphic design from Azad Art and Architecture University and her master’s degree in Visual Communications from Tehran University, she started working as a graphic designer with concentration on art and cultural events in Kargah Studio in Tehran. She also taught art to children age 5-12 at Chaharbagh School in Tehran. Golnaz moved to the United State in 2010 to continue her studies. She received her MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University in 2012. While studying at Yale, she also worked as a teacher assistant of several classes. Upon her graduation, Golnaz moved to New York City in May 2012 where she is currently working as an artist and following her passion in teaching.

Hani Niroo

Hani Niroo stated playing music at  the age of 9. After earning her diploma in Violin from the Music Conservatory in 1999, she attended Tehran University where she received her Bachelor's degree in music with specialization in Setar. Hani continued her education at the Prayner Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna and received her diploma in music theory, harmony and counterpoint in 2008. She then received her certificate in Elementary Music and Movement Education in 2009 from the Carl Orff Institute of Motzarteum University in Salzburg. Hani has been working as a music educator in Vienna since 2008. She is also a singer and composer and has published multiple albums. Hani started her collaboration with Pardis for Children in 2015 and since then has performed in many Pardis cultural concerts and events. Hani has also collaborated on multiple children's albums produced by Pardis for Children, including three music albums; "Songs of Pardis", "Songs of Pardis 2" and "Songs of Norouz"  as well as an audiobooks series "Fairytales from Greater Iran". You can listen to Hani's work HERE

Hani Zandi

Born and raised in Tehran, Hani started working with children at the age of 18 as an assistant at “Daad Afarin” nursery school teaching English and Art to children. She received her BA in “Visual Communication” from Sooreh School of Art in 2008. After working as graphic designer for some advertising companies, she cofounded “Artachicka Design Studio” in 2011. Pursuing her education, she moved to New York City. Her natural love of the children and passion in design urged her to receive her Masters of Science in “ Games for Learning” from New York University. During the program, she worked as a User Experience designer and researcher at “CREATE-NYU”, designing and evaluating learning experiences for different age groups. She collaborated on designing a web-based game, “HOPE”, to support Syrian Refugees in Turkey by providing them game-based education opportunities. She strongly believes in utilizing learning methods such as storytelling, Learning-by-doing and Situated learning to engage listener’s thinking, emotions, and imagination all at once and increases the learning outcome. Hani is passionate about teaching and education and applies all these methods in her teaching practices.  She is currently working as User Experience Designer at “Avanade”. Hani has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2015, leading classes for different age groups and helping with curriculum design and training. 

Iman Raad

Iman Raad is an artist currently living and working in Brooklyn. He mounted his first solo exhibition in New York at Sargent's Daughters gallery in 2017, which was reviewed in The New York Times, Artnet, Vogue, Vice, and Timeout New York. Aside from exhibiting internationally, Raad is an also highly acclaimed graphic designer, included in Phaidon's book of 500 most iconic designs of all time. He has won various national and international awards including 1st prize of Trnava Poster Triennial (2009- Slovakia), IGDS Diploma of 9th Tehran International Poster Biennial (2007- Iran), and Nomination for Dedalus Foundation MFA Fellowship by the Yale School of Art (2017- New York). His posters are held by Les Arts Decoratifs Museum, Ogaki poster Museum, Zurich Poster Collection, Iranian Museum of Graphic Design, and Isfahan Museum of Contemporary Art. Born in Mashad, Iran, Raad received his MFA in Painting and printmaking from Yale University in 2017. He taught Basic Drawing classes at Yale university (2016-17) and was a lecturer in Graphic Design department in Mazyar University and Amir-Kabir University (2008-10). He had artist talk at Lafayette College (2017- Easton, PA), American university of Beirut (2014- Beirut, Lebanon), Kunstquartier Bethanien (2013- Berlin, Germany), and Art University of Tehran (2011- Tehran). Raad was editor-in-chief of Dabireh Journal and a member of Dabireh Collective (2005-2012) researching on Persian language and script, calligraphy and typography. Iman Raad is currently a fellow in the Paint School, Shandaken Projects, New York. www.imanraad.com

Kaveh Haghtalab

Kaveh Haghtalab is an Iranian kamancheh, drumset, and percussion player. He grew up listening to his parents performing Persian classical music. At the age of 14, he began to perform with various music ensembles at concerts and festivals in Iran. Subsequently he was selected to become a member of "The Center For Preservation and Propagation of Iranian Music", and won a title in Fajr International Music Festival. He came to the U.S in 2012 to further study western music and received Advanced Performance Diploma from The Collective School Music, and has been performing and touring around the U.S with different bands and also as a solo performer since then.​ 

Mahya Jaberiansari

Mahya Jaberiansari is cleverly disguised as a responsible adult who was born in Iran and raised in the United States and briefly in Canada from the age of seven. Although she studied Public Health at UC Berkeley and Columbia University, she shifted career paths toward Project Management last year and is currently working in the marketing industry. A few years ago, Mahya became an aunt for the first time (and now an aunt to four, soon to be five babies) and realized her love for children is immeasurable and completely inseparable from her daily life. Currently, her nieces and nephews are her best friends and she spends most of her free time with them, experiencing up close and personal the intricacies of their delicate minds and souls. She started working with Pardis a year ago and is blessed to be able to continue this journey with such incredible children and families.

Maryam Khosrovani

Born in Tehran in1981, Maryam received her Master’s degree in Art Direction and Graphic Design in 2011 from ESAG Penninghen (Julien Academie) in Paris. In her artwork, Maryam focuses on her ongoing interest in the duality of female identity. She tries to overcome the barrier of her culture and communicates in a global language to a wider audience through a fusion of digital codes. As a graphic designer she uses a concept-oriented approach and illustrates her ideas in non-linear narratives. Maryam has shown her work in many solo and group exhibitions including at the Aun Gallery, Rogue Space Chelsea Gallery and Elga Wimmer Gallery. 
Aside from her bring an artist, Maryam is passionate about teaching children and has many years of experience working as an educator with different age groups. In recent years she has collaborated with the Rockefeller University’s “ Child and Family Center”, École Française, Iran Game Development Institute, and Kherad high school in Tehran. Maryam has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2014. She currently resides in Brooklyn where she works as an artist, educator and graphic designer. www.maryam-khosrovani.com

Maryam Mehrjui

Maryam Mehrjui grew up in Tehran.  She has lived in France and has been working and studying in New York City for the past twelve years.  She studied theater at New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing, Tisch School of the Arts, attended summer courses at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, mask and clowning, Butoh and Suzuki workshops in New York City. She has participated in multiple movement courses at Movement Research and Body Mind Centering programs.  Maryam has also written, directed and performed her own plays in different venues across New York City, and appeared in works by John Jesurun, Merry Conway from Conway and Pratt Projects and Lee Breuer from Mabou Mines.  In addition, she has been part of Total Theater Lab Productions for eight years where with Caroline Thomas they have held acting courses for children.  Her father, who currently works in Iran, was one of the founders of the new wave of Iranian cinema in the 1960’s.  Maryam has appeared in some of her father’s movies as a child actor, and in a few short movies made in Iran in recent years.  Maryam also works as a registered nurse and is currently studying Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. For more information please check: www.heartbodymindacu.com

Maryam Zadeh

Maryam is an award-winner artist, visual designer, author, UX-UI designer, and art educator who has a long-time experience of teaching in different majors of art and design in different educational levels from kindergarten to university. 

Having a second master's degree in art education, concentrated in Art Teaching from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as earning the Art Teaching License from the state of Illinois in the US, have made Maryam’s knowledge much deeper in the both fields of art and education. 

Although teaching to high schoolers and kindergarteners in the US and Iran was already in her resume', Maryam has learned a different points of view about how to design lesson plans and curriculums more professionally after her graduation from SAIC and starting her teaching career at Vivvi - an early childhood education program in Manhattan- beside teaching at Pardis for Children. On the other hand, her experience of teaching at different universities for more than six years in different majors of art - including Illustration, Printmaking, poster, graphic designs, and art critics - have led Maryam’s teaching career to a more professional approach. 


Mehrnam Rastegari

Mehrnam Rastegari is a prominent Iranian musician and film score composer, singer, violinist, and master Kamancheh player. She has been featured in some of the most prestigious music festivals in the World, including the GlobalFest in NYC, USA, Secret Planet in NYC, USA, Fajr International Music Festival in Tehran, Iran, and the WOMEX (World Music Expo), which occurred in Tampere, Finland.Rastegari was featured as a guest speaker in the TEDx event “Oasis: Existence in Nothingness.” Additionally, she composed the score for multiple award-winning films, including “Dispirited” for which she won the award of “Best Original Score” from the Melbourne City Independent Film Awards (MCIFA), and the film “Rotten,” which was nominated for the original score in Japan Kadoma Festival​​​​​.She’s been teaching Violin, Kamancheh and music for kids since 2012.

Mehrnoush Aliaghaei

Mehrnoush Aliaghaei was born and raised in Iran, and moved to the United States after finishing high school. She received her MFA in Film from Columbia University, and her BA from University of California, Berkeley where she double majored in Film Studies and Comparative Literature. While studying at Columbia, she was an instructor of two film history discussion classes for undergraduates. She has also tutored several college students during the past decade and has been with Pardis since Fall 2014, teaching older groups. Mehrnoush is the producer of over a dozen films and is the screenwriter and director of Scheherazade which was awarded Faculty and Jury Selects in 2014 Columbia University Film Festival. She is the co-founder of Virgool Productions, a company that produces promotional videos for small businesses and NGOs. www.maaa.us

Mohammad Aghebati

Mohammad Aghebati was born in 1975 in Mashhad, Iran. He studied Theater Directing at the Tehran Arts University. Upon graduation, Mohammad founded Leev Theater Group with his classmates in 2000. He has since worked on various projects with Leev Theater Group. In 2003, Mohammad received a medal from President Khatami as Iran’s successful Young Theater Artist for his direction of the play, Kiss You and Tears based on Vatslav Havel’s life. Since 2008, he has focused on working with Theater for Young Audiences (TYA). He has taught several workshops and classes to educators, teaching them on how to integrate theater and games into classrooms. He has also lead theater for young audience workshops at multiple International festivals. Few of Mohammad's plays for Adults and TYA include: “Skellig and Children of fly”, “Attar’s Simorg”,” Arash” and “Only God has the Right to Wake Me Up”, premiered at the opening night of Freiburg Theater Festival in Germany in 2005, “Only God”, won best directing prize from Isfahan International theater festival. He is currently a Special Researcher Fellow at the Yale School of drama, studying Theater and he is also a member of several international TYA networks such as Assitej and Next Generation Artist. His award winning recent play “Hamlet, Price of Grief”, was presented as part of the “Under The Radar Festival” in Public Theater in New York. The play has been touring across the States and was recently presented in NYC at the Asia Society as a part of Iran Modern series. Mohammad has recently moved to New York and is in the process of establishing a new theater group in the city. www.maaa.us

Mona Tavangar

Mona Tavangar is a musician and children’s educational media professional based in New York. Born in the US to Iranian parents, she is passionate about teaching and celebrating Iranian language, music, and culture. Mona studied psychology and music at Tufts University, where she sang jazz, opera, and musical theater. She also taught children’s piano classes and co-conducted a children’s choir through the Tufts Community Music Program. Since graduating in 2022, Mona has been working at Scholastic Inc., focusing on placing books in children’s hands through the Scholastic Book Fairs and Book Clubs. As a former student of a Persian language school in Boston similar to Pardis, she is honored to help nurture and empower the next generation of Iranian-Americans.

Narges Kalogli

Narges Kalogli is an actor and filmmaker born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She holds an MFA in Acting from The New School of Drama and a BFA in Theatre and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley. During her formative years, she had the opportunity to train under the guidance of the esteemed director Bahram Beyzai at Stanford University, where she performed in several of his productions. Driven by her passion for documentary filmmaking and deeply inspired by the world as seen through the eyes of children, Narges has found her role as our social media manager at Pardis for Children to be a perfect fit. Narges is dedicated to spotlighting our school's vibrant activities and connecting with individuals who share Pardis for Children's mission: nurturing the cultural roots and language of Iranian children worldwide.

Negar Behbahani

Negar Behbahani was born and grew up in Tehran. She started playing piano since she was 6 years old. Negar received a diploma in Persian Literature followed by a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Azad University in Tehran, focusing on the Piano and Tombak. Having the experience of learning music from the very young age, Negar has always been very passionate about teaching music to young children and while majoring in music she started teaching both Piano and Tombak to children in private and group settings. Negar has also given several performances in public and private music halls and her first album Trio-1 (various Artists, Hermes Records) was released in 2008 in Tehran. Her love of the arts has made her excel in all her previous endeavors such as music composing, piano playing and writing short stories. She has also experimented in different mediums such as video art, sound installation and photography. Negar has exhibited her videos and installations in different museums and locations across Europe and United States.

Nikki Farahanchi

Nikki Farahanchi has received professional training in Persian dance and belly dance over the past six years. Growing up in the US, she attended Farsi school as a young girl, where she discovered her love for Persian dance and the joy of connecting with her culture through movement. Nikki graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Since then, she has relocated to New York City, where she works full-time at Bloomingdale’s corporate office and teaches dance on the side. Additionally, she has experience leading Nowruz dance productions for Iranian student groups at the University of Michigan, NYU, and Columbia University. She has a passion for working with children and is excited to share the beauty of Persian dance with the Pardis community.

Niloufar Nourbakhsh

Described as “stark” by WNPR and “darkly lyrical” by the New York Times, a winner of the Second International Hildegard commission award and a 2019 recipient of Opera America’s Discovery Grant, Niloufar Nourbakhsh’s music has been performed at numerous festivals and venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center. A founding member and co-director of Iranian Female Composers Association, Nourbakhsh is a strong advocate of music education and equal opportunities. She is currently a Teaching Artist at Brooklyn Music School, an adjunct faculty at Molloy College, and a co-director of Peabody Conservatory Laptop Ensemble, while finishing her doctorate at Stony Brook University. www.niloufarnourbakhsh.com

Nushin Nazari

Nushin Nazari was born in Tehran, Iran. She got her bachelor of arts in graphic design from Tehran, where she also worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. She moved to New York City in 2011 and received a master of fine arts from City University of New York Queens College with a focus on studio arts in 2016. She currently works as a ceramic artist in Brickhouse studio in Queens. She still continues to make illustrations and drawing. Her works have been exhibited in Iran and the US. In the last two years, she has been working with various New York City public schools as a part of CASA (Cultural After School Adventures) program, teaching to elementary school students various forms of visual arts such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and ceramics. Her classes consist of hands-on projects leading to exhibitions at the end of each semester. Some of the works by children have been also presented in Queens College museum. She is also very interested in working with pre-school children. She has been with Pardis for children since 2016. https://www.nushin-nazari.com

Oldouz Dehghan

Oldouz Dehghan was born and raised in Karaj, Iran. She is from an Azerbaijani family and grew up bilingual (Farsi and Azerbaijani/Turkish). Her passion for language led her to a Bachelor’s degree in German language from Tehran Azaad University. She received a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from CUNY Graduate Center in 2018. Oldouz is a freelance translator and Farsi instructor at ABC Languages. She's been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2015.

Rene Saheb

Rene Saheb was born in Tehran and began her art studies with a degree in Visual Communication from the University of Science and Culture in Iran. She then earned a BA in Art and Professional Design from Limkokwing University in Malaysia in 2010, and an MBA in Art from Bahar Business School in Iran in 2017. Art for Rene is a tool to navigate the nuances of the present, and her global experiences deeply infuse her works with themes of cultural dialogue, especially focusing on the Iranian language and culture. She is passionate about working with children, nurturing their creativity, and introducing them to diverse cultures. Rene previously taught art at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in Iran. Additionally, she volunteered for several years, leading art activities for working children.

Roshanak Yousafian

Roshanak Yousefian is the owner of Popilee Patisserie, a NYC-based patisserie specializing in authentic handmade Persian sweets. Roshanak's love for the culinary arts started early, as a young girl in her aunt’s kitchen in Mazandaran, Iran. Popilee grew out of Roshanak’s desire to combine her passion for cooking with her desire to preserve and share the exquisite cuisine of Iran with others. For Roshanak, baking is a work of art, with each pastry made lovingly by hand, with the finest organic and traditional ingredients.
Today, Roshanak's pastries fill the "sofreh-aghd" of Manhattan weddings as well as the dessert tables of private events throughout her city. Popilee continues to expand, now catering all-things Persian. Her appetizers have recently adorned the dinner tables of events throughout New York including the annual Noruz at the Met gala held at the Temple of Dendur. www.popilee.com/

Saba Karamouz

Saba is a Brooklyn based Animator and Producer who was born in New York and raised between New York and Tehran. She permanently moved to New York in 2010 and graduated from NYU in 2015, earning her BS in Integrated Digital Media with a focus in 3D Animation. After graduation, she started her professional work as an Animator and her work has been nominated and won multiple digital and social awards but in all of her career, both before and after pursuing animation, she has always been heavily focused and involved in working as an Art and Language Farsi tutor and instructor to children of all ages and levels in New York City. Being raised with educator parents, Saba has been exposed to the education world from a very young age and started her work with children when she was 15 as an assistant to her mother who was then the headteacher of "Pietro Della Valle" Italian School's kindergarten in Tehran. Saba has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2011. 

Sepideh Salehi

Sepideh Salehi was born in Tehran where her passion for painting and drawing was clear from a very young age. As a child she began oil painting classes with well-known Iranian painters and found that the creation of art was her life’s goal. It still is. In Iran she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Translation and had an opportunity to share her love of learning as a teacher to younger children. In her twenties, she moved to Florence, Italy to dedicate all her time to her love of art. After obtaining a Master’s Degree from Accademia di Belle Arti of Florence in Painting and Video Art she was granted a teaching fellowship and taught painting and mixed media classes at the Belle Arti . During her time there she also studied pedagogy and conducted a number of workshops with children. In 2008 she moved, along with her husband, who is also an artist, to the United States. Her mixed media and videos have been exhibited in museums, galleries and art fairs in Italy, France, Switzerland, New York and Los Angeles. Some of the venues for her shows include, Art in Isolation at the Middle East Institute, Washington DC, Bridge Between You and Everything curated by Shirin Neshat at High Line Nine,New York, Photo London,Somerset House London, Mirrored Re-Collection at the University of Maryland Stamp Gallery,REVEAL at The Space by Advocartsy LA,, Patterning curated by Samantha Friedman at Kentler gallery, Brooklyn, NY, STRAPPA Rogue Space Chelsea NY, Craft and Folk Art Museum LA, Tribeca Video Art NY, Centre for Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci, Virgiliano Museum and International Bologna Art Fair Italy. She had lectures and talks at NYU, the university of Maryland, Loyola university in Baltimore, Belle Arti Academy in Florence and the Pyramid Atlantic Art center MD. She was mentor for immigrant artist at the New York Foundation for the Art for four years. Her work featured in many magazines, some of them are Vanity Fair, Financial Times, W Magazine, Wide Walls, East City Art, BBC, Los Angeles review of Books, Huff Post, Art Radar and Where’s Art. Sepideh was Pesteh’s class teacher at the Pardis for children (2013 - 2016) during those years she designed and led workshops at the Asia Society. She Currently lives and works between Washington DC and NYC. https://www.sepidehsalehi.com


Setareh Arashloo

Setare Arashloo was born and raised in Tehran, graduated with a BA in Painting from the University of Tehran, and received a post-baccalaureate certificate in Fine Art at Maryland Institute College of Art and MFA in Studio Art at Queens College, CUNY, New York. Recently, Setareh finished her Advanced Certificate in Critical Social Practice at SPQ, Queens College. She is an alumnus of AIM fellowship at Bronx Museum and is represented by Azad Gallery in Tehran, Iran. She teaches at Queens College. Her works have been exhibited in Iran, US, Afghanistan, Germany, Canada and Australia. Setareh has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2014. setarearashloo.com

Shahrzad Changalvaee

Shahrzad was born (1983) and raised in Tehran, Iran, received my BA in visual communications from Tehran University Faculty of Fine Arts in 2006, and her MFA in Sculpture from Yale School of Art in 2015. Shahrzad is a visual artist, mainly sculptor. She uses found Images and footages, in adjacent to studio materials and artist-made things to form narratives that question local/global, information/anecdote, displacement/memory, language/communication. Shahrzad remembers thinking about becoming a teacher on her very first day of school. She has thought and lead workshops to children, young adults and university students, in Iran and the US. She has worked with Dabireh Collective, a project on Persian script and language for seven years and is currently a member of Bon-Gah colletive, an artist-run platform in Iran. Shahrzad has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2017 and is currently teaches Video Art at Caldwell University, NJ as well. http://shahrzad.ch

Tania Ahmadi

Tania was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. After her high school, she moved to the United States. She holds her bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, she closely worked with children at Golestan Kids for few years. She earned her master’s degree in Film Studies from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she participated in a research project entitled, “Women Film Pioneer Project” where she wrote an entry for one of Iran’s first female directors, Shahla Riahi. Tania works as an editorial assistant for Godfrey Cheshire, an American film critic and filmmaker on his book, In the Time of Kiarostami: Writings on Iranian Cinema. She has written for Film Comment and writes reviews of contemporary Iranian films for Peyk magazine, an Iranian-American magazine published in San Diego. She has been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2017.


Tina Bararian

Tina Bararian is an award-winning modern dancer, choreographer, actor, and film director. She holds degrees in Film Studies from York University and Dance Performance from George Brown College. After completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at York University, Tina Bararian relocated to New York City to further her studies at the esteemed Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, from which she recently graduated. Her exceptional talent was recognized when she was awarded the People's Choice Artist at Spoke The Hub Residency in New York.

In 2023, she achieved a significant milestone in her career by establishing her own dance company in New York City. Tina is the visionary curator and founder of "Dancers Of Iran," a global artistic project and platform that showcases dancers of Iranian descent. Her extensive training in ballet, modern dance, and acrobatics has equipped her to create original dance pieces and film projects in both Canada and the US.

Yahya Alkhansa

Born on Dec 26th 1981 in Tehran, Yahya started playing Tombak at the age of 9. He played traditional music for 7 years before switching to drum set at the age of 16. He toured with many underground rock musicians in Iran and joined 127 band in 2002. He has performed in world festivals with them including Italia's Arezzo wave and famous SXSW in Austin TX. He has done world tours with Mohsen Namjoo, KIOSK and other prominent Iranian musicians.

Yahya has a bachelor of science from Azad University of Tehran in Material Science. He moved to the United States to pursue his education in Music. Yahya studied advanced drum performance in New york City's Drummers Collective School of Music and graduated in May of 2012.

Yahya is an experienced Musician with a demonstrated history of working in the music industry. Skilled in Music Industry, Audio Recording, Music Theory, Percussion Performance, Drum set performance, Music Education and Studio Recording with a Advanced Performance Certificate focused in Music Performance, General from The Collective School Of Music.

Yalda Heshmati

Yalda was born and raised in Tehran. Her first teaching experience was at the age of 15 at Vahdat House of Charity in Tehran, teaching singing and piano lessons to blind and disabled children as a volunteer. She also taught sketching and drawing to children age 3-10 at Arshia Art Gallery in Tehran. When she was 18 years old, she moved to the U.S and got her Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in Marketing. Later, she moved to Barcelona and finished her masters’ degree in Cognitive Science and Language. Her research was on language acquisition in Persian Speaking children with Autism, and her paper is being published at the Catalan Journal of Linguistics this year. Yalda is currently a masters student at Columbia University in Teaching Students with Intellectual Disability/Autism and Students without Disabilities at Childhood (grades 1-6).

Yekta Khaghani

Yekta Khaghani is an Iranian playwright, actor and theater educator based in New York
City. She earned a BA in Dramatic Literature from Tehran University of Art. Since her
move to the US in 2016, Yekta has been a driving force behind numerous theatrical
productions, both as a creator and performer. Yekta also has adapted the series Fairy
Tales from Greater Iran for audiobooks and the stage. She’s been collaborating with
Pardis for Children since 2017. She is also part of the People’s Theater Project company
and serves as a Teaching Artist.
Yekta received the 2023 New York City Women Fund for her new play, set to debut in
2024 in New York. Also, she reached a semifinalist at the 2020 National Playwrights
Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.