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/Executive Director of Pardis for Children. Prior to establishing Pardis for Children in 2011, Sanam served as a consultant for multiple for profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies. In her last role, Sanam managed the Community Partners program, one of Mayor Bloomberg’s Center for Economic Opportunities initiatives in New York City.
Sanam has been involved in various philanthropic efforts over the years. After the earthquake in Iran, Bam in December of 2003, Sanam organized a fundraising to help the victims. She then flew to Bam to oversee the distribution of the funds among multiple local NGOs and hospitals. In 2005, Sanam shot a documentary called “The Iron Cradle” in Iran which was screened at various international film festivals. After becoming a mother in 2009, she decided to pursue her love for early childhood education and community building. She received a certificate in Childcare Management and Early Childhood Education from New York University in the winter of 2011.
Sanam earned her BA, cum laude, in Operations Research and received her MA in Engineering and Management Systems from Columbia University in 2003. She has served as the Executive Director of Pardis for Children since 2011 and is responsible for all strategic and operational duties. She is the president of the board at Pardis for Children and a board member of Brooklyn Children’s museum. Sanam, her husband, Morad Masjedi, and their two sons reside in Brooklyn, New York.
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 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 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 (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.
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
Avid Izadpanah was born and raised in Tehran. After receiving her master’s degree in architecture from Azad Art & Architecture University, she worked for years as an architect and interior designer specializing in healthcare related projects. Meanwhile, she participated creatively in the abstract painting world. Avid moved to in New York City in 2015 and earned her second master’s degree, in fashion business, and worked with brands like MaxMara and Giorgio Armani. In order to follow her dream of starting her own business, Avid enrolled in an MBA program in 2018 at St. John’s University (Manhattan campus). She’s been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2018.
Ayrin Gharibpour is an Iranian artist born and raised in Tehran. She got her BFA in Graphic Design from the Art University of Tehran. She has worked as a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and photographer for various studios and institutes including: Institute of Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, Iran Cultural Studies institute, Ney Davood Records, Aran Puppet Theater Group, Zeeen Craft Shop.
Her interest in theater, especially puppet theater art, stems from being born into a theatrical family. For the past six years she has primarily been working with children as well as working as a freelancer. In addition to teaching, she has also created theater and puppet theater projects for children at schools and institutes in Tehran.
Ayrin is a music enthusiast: she sings, plays the oud and the violin. Travel is a big part of her life and she is fluent in Farsi, English and Italian. Ayrin Gharibpour has studied in Italy, the UK and the USA and love visiting new places and learning new things.
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.
Banafsheh grew up in Iran, in a family of educators. She received her Bachelors degree in Italian language from Tehran's Azad University in 2004. After that she worked as a coordinator in an International company in Tehran. She moved to the States in 2010, and decided to follow her true passion. Banafsheh earned her Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) from New York University in 2013. She's been working with children with social- emotional needs for the past 3 years. She has worked with all grade levels and can't imagine doing anything else with her life. She is currently working with children and young adults dealing with challenges that impacts their academic success.
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 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 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 two music albums; "Songs of Pardis", "Songs of Norouz" and an audiobooks series "Fairytales from Greater Iran". Hani is currently working on a third music album with Pardis for Children to be published in Fall 2020.
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 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 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.
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
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 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
Narges Khaloghli was born in Tehran in 1996 and moved to San Francisco at the age of 17. She received her BA in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley and was awarded “The Mark Goodson Prize for Distinguished Artistic Talent”. She has also obtained the Certificate of Training in Acting from The American Conservatory of Theater in San Francisco. Narges became a member of Stanford’s Iranian Studies Program, worked with the renowned Professor Bahram Beyzaie and performed in his last three productions. She is currently studying for her MFA at The New School of Drama in New York.
Navid Kandelousi started playing violin at the age of six. He studies Western Classical Music at the Verdi Conservatory in Milano, Italy and at the Moscow Violin Academy in Russia. Since 1999, Navid started performing as both Violin and Kamancheh soloist in the Iranian National Orchestra and was invited to perform at multiple symphonies around Europe. Navid is a winner of several violin competitions and music awards in Iran. While in Iran, he taught at Vaziri, Pegah and Razo Niaz Music Institutes. Since he moved to the states in 2008, he taught at Yamaha School of Music in CA and Suzuki Violin School in Irvine. Currently he's in the Teaching Training Program at the School of Strings, a Suzuki based music school in New York. He has performed Kamancheh and Violin recitals at the Lincoln Center Library and has taught Master Class in Kamancheh, Taar and Setar at the Julliard School. Navid has recently been invited to teach at the Queens Symphony.
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.
Niloufar is an industrial design graduate from Tehran University of Art. She was selected as an exceptional talented student by national elites foundation of Iran. She designed multiple products which later on were accepted and produced by various prominent factories such as Dentus in Tehran. In addition to her academic success, to bridge the gap between Iranian designers, Niloufar decided to found a community for Iranian designers to gather and network with each other. In February 2013, Niloufar hosted the First Tehran Design Week (TDW) event at the University of Art in Tehran. TDW included professional conferences, workshops and art galleries where more than 3,500 professional designers and students attended. In Jan 2014, Niloufar was elected as a head of student associations of the University of Art in Tehran. During that time, she joined Shaparak Academy for Children and decided to follow her love for childhood education. Niloufar created a play based curriculum called “Children, Body, and Intelligence” and later received the best Shapark’s teacher award by parents in 2014. In 2016, Niloufar moved to the US and now she is pursuing her second bachelor and is planning to start her own business. She’s been collaborating with Pardis for Children since 2017. https://niloofarghazali.portfoliobox.net/
Niloufar Nourbakhsh is a music graduate and a Global Citizen Scholarship recipient of Goucher College as well as a Mahoney and Caplan Scholar from Oxford University, where she studied Mathematics and Music Composition. She has participated in numerous festivals as a pianist and a composer including New Paltz Piano summer and Atlantic Music Festival. Among her teachers are Arash Abbasi, Lisa Weiss, Jeffrey Chappell, and Laura Kaminsky. Niloufar is currently pursuing her master’s degree in music composition at Stony Brook University under the supervision of Daria Semegen. Niloufar is also a strong advocate of music education. In the past year, she has worked as an administrative director of Brooklyn Middle School Jazz Academy sponered by Jazz at Lincoln Center. She currently teaches piano at Brooklyn Music School and Pardis For Children organizations, and she has recently started working on her multimedia dual language opera that will be staged in Fall 2016 at National Sawdust. www.niloufarnourbakhsh.com
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.
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.
Born in Mashhad, Iran, Parham Haghighi is a music producer, vocalist, pianist, and educator. He moved to the United States in 2012 to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he graduated, Summa cum Laude, in Contemporary Writing and Production with a focus on Vocal Jazz Performance. During his time in Boston, Parham had the chance of learning from and working with world-renowned musicians including the multi-award-winning Spanish producer Javier Limon, Arabic music Master Simon Shaheen, and acclaimed Brazilian singer-songwriter and feminist icon Joyce Moreno, to name a few. In 2015, Parham co-directed the “7th Annual Berklee Middle Eastern Music Festival: Music of Persia"; a concert in which he also performed, arranged, and conducted. A recipient of Berklee’s "Outstanding Achievement Award", Haghighi has been actively performing as a vocalist and pianist at the music festivals and venues across the US.
Having more than a decade experience of teaching private and group piano/voice/theory lessons, Parham equally has a true passion for children and their education. Since 2016, Parham also has been the executive board member of Iranian Performing Arts Inc. that focuses on uncovering, preserving, and celebrating the diverse cultures of Iran through dance. Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, he wholeheartedly continues to expand his musical horizons and pursue his career, hoping to play a valuable role in the repressed, lesser-known world of Iranian music.
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 was born in New York City and grew up between New York and Tehran. She is currently an NYU Poly student majoring in Digital Media with a focus on 3D Animation, and is a candidate for a Bachelor of Science degree. She started working with children at the age of 15 as an assistant to her mother, the headteacher of a nursery with over 20 years of experience. Saba has also worked at "Pietro Della Valle" Italian School's kindergarten as an assistant teacher in addition to working at her mother's day care in Tehran. At the age of 18, she started tutoring in English as well as working as a private piano instructor. Saba then moved to New York and started working as a Farsi tutor to non-Farsi speaking children and has been taking care of young children of Persian families as a babysitter in the past two years. Her many years of experience with children of different age and her natural love of the children makes her a great asset to the team.
Sara Khaki was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She practiced painting at a young age and was determined to become a fine artist. Shortly after her high school education, Sara moved to the States. Upon her arrival at college, she discovered a course called "Time Based Media" where she became fascinated by transforming a well-composed frame into series of images that suggest movement in time and space. Her interest in painting slowly evolved into filmmaking. In 2010, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Cinematic Arts from University of Maryland Baltimore County. To continue her passion in filmmaking, Sara moved to New York City. In 2012, she received her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Social documentary filmmaking from School of Visual Arts, where she was a Social Documentary and Alumni Scholarship Award recipient. In 2013, Sara received the Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film. During her studies, Sara had the chance to travel to Iran to teach language and art to undocumented Afghan children, who were otherwise unable to pursue any kind of education. She became very interested in teaching. As an independent documentary filmmaker, Sara has a long lasting passion to preserve her culture and her native language by documenting untold stories as well as teaching language through art.
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.
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 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 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.
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 also collaborated with Mohsen Namjoo on Shirin Neshat's play "Over ruled" and on other recordings. Yahya has a bachelor of science from Azad University of Tehran in Material Science. He recently moved to the United States to pursue his education in Music. He studied advanced drum performance in New york City's Drummers Collective School of Music and graduated in May of 2012.
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 was born in Tehran, Iran in 1985. She has been acting on stage, Radio, and TV since she was fourteen years old. Before entering the Academic Theater Society, she attended the theater school called, “Charsoo Honar”, where she was professionally trained as an actress, ballet dancer, and creative writer. She studied Dramatic Literature at University of Art in Tehran. While studying, she performed in varies theaters such as Hasan Majouni’s Midsummer's Night Dream, Betrayal,Volpon, and so on. She participated in the performance called Neverland lead by Peter Shoman (head of Bread & Puppet theater group) in Tehran. Yekta wrote a few puppet plays such as White, which she directed it herself. White was included in the 8th Puppet Theater Festival in Tehran. After her graduation, she dedicated her time in writing plays for Radio and Theater. She also lead creative writing workshops for children and adults. The years between 2009 and 2012, she along side of her classmates, and a couple of actors and direrctors in Cinema and theater, founded an independent theatre group named “Khane”. At Khane, she researched on the relationship between theater and social political issues, wrote two documentary plays, and acted in two plays: The dream of silent innocents and Lady in Red, both directed by Mohamad Rezai Raad. She is a member of Austrian Cultural Forum (ÖKF) theater group, and brought a theater named Reigen on stage as a director and dramaturge. In late 2015, she moved to New York and continued her artistic career as a freelance writer and actress in various radio programs, and theater events. Yekta began her collaboration with Pardis for Children as a playwright and performer in 2017 Norouz event at Asia Society and since then has lead many workshops and classes at Pardis.