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Iranian-American Women's Leadership Conference attracts nearly 700
(ORANGE COUNTY, CA)-Academy award nominee, Shohreh Aghdashloo, joined 680 other accomplished, professional women for Coastline Community College's second annual Iranian-American Women's Leadership Conference (IAW). The event was held Sunday, October 23, 2011, at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa.
The IAW conference kicked off with a welcome from Nazie Eftekhari, founder and CEO of HealthEZ and one of the first Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) in the country. She described her journey in life-leaving Iran in 1976 and making a company and a name for herself here in the U.S.-and introduced the scores of attendees to the tone of the workshop: Enlightened, Inspired, Empowered.
In the following breakout sessions, women (and a handful of men) were treated to presentations by remarkable panelists and speakers.
A session entitled "Lead like a women" brought female leaders together for a discussion on the differences between female and male leaders. Marjaneh Namdar, Worldwide Facilities Director for Texas Instruments, noted that, "men are very direct and to the point whereas women want consensus and camaraderie." She also noted that women will rarely ask for promotions or raises. Panelist Laya Khadjavi (a Senior Executive in the financial industry) agreed, following with, "women work hard and expect people to just notice. Instead, we need to be better about telling people about our accomplishments."
Other sessions included topics such as Women's Well Being, Networking your Way to the Top, Women & Fashion, Women & Philanthropy, Professional Career Options for Women, and Future Iranian-American Leaders.
The closing session featured a star-studded panel of extraordinary women. Shohreh Aghdashloo-who is best known for her role in The House of Sand and Fog and HBO's House of Saddam-was on stage, not as an actress, but as a notable Iranian-American women who followed her dreams. She was joined by Naderah Chamlou, a Senior Advisor at the World Bank, Parisa Khosravi, Senior VP of International Newsgathering at CNN, and Soheila Motamed, a Senior Program Manager at Boeing who was once shot and left for dead in a robbery.
Motamed told about her emotional story to the severe overcome obstacles she didn't plan for in life. Aghdashloo commented on the importance of following your dreams, even when your family may not be a number-one supporter of those dreams. "I remember telling my mother that I wanted to be an actress, and she said 'not under this roof, your father will never allow it!' So, I knew I had to be under another roof," she remembered, which led her to get married and follow her dream to be an actress.
The goal of the conference was to unite and motivate Iranian-American women in Southern California. Ashley Tabaddor, a U.S. immigration judge who attended the conference purely in a personal capacity, described the event as "an inspiring and absolutely moving conference."
Mariam Khosravani, Executive Director of the Coastline Community College Foundation that hosted the event, explained, "We have so many accomplished women in our community that have come here over the last twenty or thirty years. Since we migrated here, we have all done so much but it was all done quietly. This conference is a tool to connect all of us together and showcase-proudly-our contribution to the country which has given us so much."
Nazie Eftekhari commented on the sisterhood an event like this establishes. "You've all heard about the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?" she asked. "I would describe this as the sisterhood of the traveling Chanel bag," she joked.