Meet Roxana Rastegar

Roxana

Prior to acting, Roxana Rastegar worked as a professional photographer as well as performing with Avaz Dance Company at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Royce Hall and the Japan American Theater. Roxana’s voice has been featured on several original radio plays on KIRN radio in Los Angeles. Roxana’s radio show “Yavashaki,” airs Saturday nights on KIRN 8 to 9 p.m. Her lead roles include the plays The 99Cent Family, Death, A Very Serious Comedy and Surprise Party (produced by Houshang Touzie).

Five questions for Roxana Rastegar:

What is your education and background?

I have  a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative literature from the American University in Paris and a Master’s degree in Theater Arts from California State University, Los Angeles.

What first sparked your interest in the performing arts?

I was exposed to the performing arts at a very young age. My parents would often get tickets to the “Talar Roudaki” (Roudaki Hall)  in Tehran. Some of the best performances I have ever experienced happened at the Performing Art Center in Shiraz (Jashneh Honar in Shiraz), where I saw Marcel Marceaux, Maurice Bejart and other great artists. I was also fortunate to attend the ballet school in Iran, which was modeled after the British Royal Ballet Academy.

Tell our readers about your experiences in your field.

My experiences in the visual and performing arts have been quite diverse and enjoyable. I was in interested photography when I moved to the United States and  worked as a freelance photographer. I’ve always been passionate about theater and started with stage readings and radio plays. My degree in Theater Arts has afforded me the chance to produce concerts, dances and plays.

Were your family members supportive of your career choices?

I was lucky to have been raised in a family that valued and nurtured the arts. My husband has been very supportive of my decision to continue in my field. As a result, my children are also very supportive.

What message or advice do you have for aspiring performers?

I believe in living your passion, whatever that may be.

You can see Roxana in Beyond Jacob’s Ladder at http://www.jewishwomenstheatre.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Tina Hay, Founder and CEO of CardBlanc

Tina Hay

Tina Hay, Founder and CEO of CardBlanc, comes from a diverse background that encompasses film, technology and finance. Prior to CardBlanc, she co-founded and was President of CityTripping.com, Editor of CityTripping Los Angeles: Your Guide to Restaurants, Nightlife,Shopping, Culture, Fitness and Hotels, and Founder of Platinum Test Group. Tina also created and runs the environmental conservation group, All You Need is One. She holds a B.A. from UCLA and an MBA from Harvard University.

It’s a pleasure to feature Tina Hay and CardBlanc on this blog post.

What is your background and education?

I have my B.A. from UCLA and an MBA from Harvard University.

Tell our readers how you conceived the idea for Cardblanc.

I have been passionate about payments since my first credit card at age 13.  Remarkably, there have been few improvements to the commoditized world of cards and banking in the last 50 years.  Having worked in finance, it was clear to me that most people never learn the basics of money management, as it can be intimidating and often times overwhelming.  Although there may be an abundance of financial capital, there is an absence of intellectual capital, especially when it comes to young adults and millennials. CardBlanc brings all of these elements together to create an empowering, educational and engaging experience in personal finance.  Our mission is to give members the best financial services and shopping experience that they can find anywhere and to also provide them with the resources needed to make informed money decisions.

How does Cardblanc work?

CardBlanc (www.mycardblanc.com) is a universal payment card.  Members can use the card to pay for anything, anywhere. We are recreating the American Express experience for young adults and millennials.

Download the app and receive a virtual card with your name and a unique card number.  Load funds or request funds from friends or parents.  Search our curated shopping platform or see what’s trending, select your favorite products, and earn points for every purchase.

We have also launched a financial literacy platform called Napkin Finance– a quick and easy guide to everything you need to know about money in 30 seconds or less, http://www.mycardblanc.com/napkinfinance .

What message do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

It’s a great time to start a business. Technology is inexpensive and there are so many incredible resources available to build a company. I would say the most important message would be to find great people. There is nothing more critical to the success of a  business than having good people behind it.

 

Meet Anousheh Ansari

Anousheh

On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer.  Ms. Ansari earned a place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space and the first astronaut of Iranian descent.  An entrepreneur, Ms. Ansari is the co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea System, a company that unleashes the power of the internet to all consumers and dramatically alters and simplifies consumers’ digital living experience. Prior to founding Prodea, Ms. Ansari served as co-founder, CEO and chairwoman of Telecom Technologies, Inc.  The company successfully merged with Sonus Networks, Inc. in 2000.   Ms. Ansari immigrated to the United States as a teenager who did not speak English. She earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering.  She has an honorary doctorate from the International Space Universtiy.  Anousheh Ansari is a member of the X Prize Foundation’s Vision Circle, as well as its Board of Trustees.  She is a life member of the Association of Space Explorers and serves on the advisory board of the Teacher in Space project.

(source: Iranian American Women’s Leadership Conference Handbook)

Anousheh Ansari is an amazing and inspiring woman.  Her speech at this year’s Iranian American Women’s Conference in Los Angeles, California was a highlight for me.  Not only is she a successful and accomplished person, she has a terrific sense of humor.  It is my pleasure to feature Ms. Ansari on this blog:

When did you move to the United States?

I moved here when I was 16 years old in 1984.

What is your education and background?

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from George Mason University and my Master’s from George Washington University.

When and how did you first become interested in space travel?

I have always been fascinated with the night sky. As far back as I remember since I was five, I loved the stars. I would lie on my balcony at night and look up at the stars; it became my inspiration for wanting to know more about astronomy. The sheer fascination of the mystery of space and what’s out there, what’s it like and how I could get there in order to find all the answers I was seeking. My career was built around my passion for the stars.

What was your inspiration for starting Telecom Industries?

I first developed an interest in telecommunications while in college. I saw great opportunities in groundbreaking strategies and just as I found fascination with the stars, I felt Telecommunications was another exciting frontier to explore. With my degrees in electronics and computer engineering, my husband and I launched our careers at MCI where we gained incredible hands-on experience in the Telecom industry and then we saw a great opportunity to launch our own venture.

What message do you have for the younger generation about pursuing their dreams?

I would like to share that personally I do not accept boundaries. I am always reaching out for the next frontier and I hope that I can encourage our youth around the world to do the same.

Meet Mariam Khosravani

Mariam Khosravani

Mariam Khosravani is the founder and president of the Iranian American Women Foundation (IAWF).  In 2010 she sought to assemble the expertise and accomplishments of Iranian American women around the nation and utilize them to inspire women to reach their full potential.  A platform for open dialogue, the foundation creates lasing connections among leading women who pass on their wisdom and journeys to success.  Mariam has taken the Iranian American Women Foundation across the nation and now hosts its annual leadership conference in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D. C.  She organizes and hosts the Orange County Global Women’s Conference under her capacity as the Executive Director of Coastline Community College foundation, which raises funds for and supports more than 18,000 students in Southern California.  Driven by compassion, Mariam has assisted in the expansion of various local, national and international organizations and helped raise millions of dollars in funds for them.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) and is a member of the Advisory Board of PBS SoCal, Orange Count’s PBS station.  She has worked as a Community Services Commissioner for the City of Irvine, working to bring together multicultural communities.  Mariam served on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for California’s Community Colleges and was the president and advisory board member of the Network of Iranian American Professionals of Orange County for ten years. She also served as the Orange County United Way’s Chair of Investment Council and was a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

On Sunday November 2, 2014 Mariam hosted the seventh annual Iranian American Women Foundation’s conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  The conference featured a vast array of successful and accomplished women among them, Iranian American astronaut, Anoosheh Ansari.  It is my pleasure to feature Mariam Khosravani in this post.

1) When did you move to the United States?

I moved here in 1987.

2) What is your education and background?

I have an MBA and a certificate in fundraising and managing non-profit organizations.

3) How did you come up with the idea for the Iranian American Women Foundation?

I was aware that so many women in our community have contributed so much to this society and I wanted to use an avenue to recognize and acknowledge them.  It was important to me to put all these women in touch with each other so that they can network, empower and inspire one another.  Most people were not aware of the success stories of Iranian American women in other states and I wanted to make sure that we know about each other and to create a space for all to network.

4) What is the mission of IAWF?

Our mission is to provide a platform of empowerment and mentorship for Iranian American women of all ages.  We provide insight into various career paths and an opportunity to network with extraordinary women across the United States.

5) What is your advice for the younger generation of women leaders?

My advice is to look at every challenge in life as an opportunity to learn and to test yourself. Always act upon your dreams. Don’t be afraid to set high goals for yourself and surround yourself with positive and trustworthy friends.

To learn more about IAW visit http://www.IAWFoundation.org

Meet Shahrzad Ardalan

ardalan

Shahrzad Ardalan is a multi-talented entrepreneur, radio and television host, philanthropist, former President of the Coalition of Iranian Entrepreneurs (CIE) and a former President of the Rancho Park Rotary Club. She is a member of several charitable organizations and is the recipient of  numerous awards. She has served as membership chair for the International Society for Children with Cancer (ISCC) as well as serving on the advisory board for Pars Equality Center.  She is a board member of the Iranian American Parents Association (IPA) and a member of (IAW) Iranian American Women Foundation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Sharhzad Ardalan recently:

When did you move to the United States?

I left Iran in 1973 and moved to England. I moved to France in 1978 and lived in Paris until 1984 when I briefly lived in New York and then to moved to Los Angeles, California.

What is your education and background?

I attended Bazargani high school in Iran.  I have a Business Management degree from Bournemouth College of Technology in England as well as a degree in International Business Administration from The American College in Paris.  I recently went back to school – at the age of 56 (two years ago) – and got my Real Estate license.

What led you to broadcast journalism?

I have always been involved in social work.  But working with media – it all started when Dr. Farhang Holakouie invited on his television show and asked me to be the host. I conducted interviews and had three morning shows with him: (Maa va Farzandaan, Kistam man and Khaanevadeh Emrooz).

Tell us about your radio shows. I was a big fan of your “Life is Beautiful” show and I love your voice.

Thank you. I began my radio career in 2000 and had a daily show on weekdays (10 a.m. to 12 noon) for twelve years called “Zendegi Zibaast” (Life is Beautiful).  I also conducted interviews in the afternoon.  About two years ago I was given a choice – the morning show or the afternoon programs and even though I chose “Zendegi Zibast” I was given the infomercials. So I decided to create a plan B.  While handling three different jobs, I went back to school and succeeded in getting my Real Estate license.  I reduced my working hours at the radio and focused my new career.  The new management at the radio station offered me a new show on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m.  It’s called “Roozegar- e- Maa.”

You officiate at weddings as well in three languages and include poetry during the ceremonies.

I’ve been a Wedding Officient since 2005 and I have officiated about 220 non-religious, non-denominational wedding ceremonies and have enjoyed every single one of them.

How do you manage your time between your busy career and family?

My son Amir, is the fuel in my old engine and my husband, Bahram Afshar is my great support with a wonderful sense of humor.  I love and enjoy my jobs; I was unhappy when my show was taken away, but things have worked out for the best and once again I learned that everything happens for a reason!

What message do you have for the young generation of Iranian Americans especially to those pursuing a career in broadcast journalism?

I don’t consider myself a broadcast journalist. I just tell stories. I choose my story with an inspiring, meaningful message, hoping to add beauty to the life of my audience.  My message to the younger generation is to get to know the story of your parents and grandparents – their story of emigration, the challenges, the struggle and hard work and our ups and downs, that will help you use their experience for the betterment of your life.

Visit Shahrzad at http://www.shahrzadardalan.com

Meet Sheida Kimiabakhsh

shediaSheida Kimiabakhsh is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Aniise Natural Skincare..  Our interview took place in Westwood, California recently.  Here are the five questions for the lovely Sheida Kimiabaksh:

When did you launch Aniise Natural Skincare?

Ten years ago, in 2004.

What led to the founding of Aniise Natural Skincare?

We all struggle with our skin as teenagers and as we get older we want to combat the aging process.  Throughout our lives we try different skin care brands, which results in our skin stalling.  Most skin care products in the market contain acid, which over time chips away at the skin layers, leaving the skin vulnerable to environmental damage and harmful UV rays.  Dryness of the skin also leads to premature aging.  We were searching for a long-term solution – a skin care line that we could use forever.  So we founded Aniise – with products for everyone – all ages; men and women.  We use natural ingredients and vitamins that our bodies won’t reject. In essence,  we’re feeding the skin from the outside as well.

How did you come up with the name Aniise?

We were brainstorming and came up with the name “Aniise”.  We bought and trademarked the logo and the rights to our website.

Tell our readers about your experiences and challenges in starting a new business.

We started from scratch.  It was a struggle with many ups and downs – lots of trial and error.  We learned as we went along.  But I’m happy to say that we have beat the odds and are rapidly growing in a very competitive industry.  We carry a full line of skin care, cosmetics, body care and (forthcoming) hair care.  We compete with better-known brands in the industry.  Shiseido is one of our biggest competitors within the chain of department stores in which we feature our products.  We consistently surpass their numbers.

What message do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Don’t give up. Try everything.  Say yes to everything and if it doesn’t work out, move on.  Surround yourself with loyal, hard-working people.  I’m happy and proud to say that we’ve been lucky to have intelligent sales associates who have been with us since day one.  They have stuck with us through thick and thin, despite sometimes having better offers.  Our support team is like our family.

How can people who are interested in trying your products contact you?

They can visit our website:  Aniise.com

or via email: info@aniise.com

We are on Instagram and Twitter as well.

ANIISE Logo

You can visit the Anise website at Aniise.com

Twitter: @Aniise_skincare

Instagram: Aniise_skincare

or via email: info@aniise.com

Meet Lily Gilani

Lily Gilani

Lily Gilani has lived in the 33rd Congressional District for over 25 years. With the support of hard-working parents and a country that provides limitless opportunity, Lily Gilani graduated from Harvard Law School. She is CEO and co-founder of BuzzCounsel.com. A former Adjunct Professor of Law at Whittier Law School and Vice President for Legal Affairs at SleepSolutionDoctors.com, Lily was inspired to give back to her community, so she co-founded BuzzCounsel.com., a digital platform that seeks to make quality legal help more accessible to everyone.

Five questions for Lily:

1) When did you move to the United States?

I left Iran in 1979 and lived in England for 4 years. I moved to the United States in 1982.

2) What is your education and background?

My undergraduate degree is from Cal Lutheran University with a minor in English. I have a J.D. degree from Whittier Law School as well as LL.M in International Law from Harvard University.

3) How and when did you become interested in politics?

I graduated in 1993 and have been a practicing lawyer since then. My focus has always been on health and international law. I was Vice President of legal affairs at Sleep Solutions.com and CEO and co-founder of BuzzCounsel.com which attempts to make law more accessible to everyone. Through our site people can Skype and video conference with an attorney or with several attorneys from their home or office. The site provides  instant appointment setting and a directory of lawyers, cutting the stress of driving and parking the car and saving time.

4) What is your platform and issues that interest you?

My platform is the future of our country.  I am concerned about the direction of the country is headed as well as the economy and our education system that is lagging behind the rest of the world. We are number seventeen in reading skills and number twenty three in math. We need to change that and make it better for our children, helping them enter the workplace, not just in California, but in the rest of the country.  I am also worried about world affairs and our banking system. I have a plan for reducing our debt. We have lost industries and businesses in the past 20 years in Los Angeles. We need to reduce taxes, improve job opportunities, reduce regulations and red tape to make sure that businesses remain here.

5) What is your advice to the young generation, especially to those interested in a career in politics?

The main reason that I am running for office is that I am a mother and the opportunities that were available to me as an immigrant is not available to my children in today’s public schools.  My advice is to know about the issues and decisions that go on in Washington that will affect them and their future. They need to be involved and they need their voices to be heard. I strongly urge everyone to vote.  For example, I am concerned about the future of HAIS programs which help minorities such as Jewish families to restart their lives. Congress is looking to limit this funding. I believe that some of the best talent can be found through these programs that open the possibilities for the young Iranian community.  It’s important to know that this is a historic moment because the incumbent, Congressman Waxman has retired and there are 18 candidates running in this race. If all the Iranians get together and vote we will win. We need 25,000 votes to make it past the primary.