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Board of Directors

Senator J. Bennett Johnston Jr.

Chairman, American Iranian Council                    
CEO, Johnston and Associates                    
Sen. Johnston was a Democratic politician and US Senator from Louisiana from 1972 to 1997. He served as a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from its creation and as its Chairman and Ranking Member for much of that time. He was either directly or indirectly responsible for all energy legislation considered by Congress between 1973 and 1996. He proposed and passed the first electricity restructuring legislation as part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which also contained extensive provisions regarding natural gas and re-wrote the nuclear licensing provisions of federal law. Sen. Johnston obtained his Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) from Louisiana State University. He attended the US military academy at West Point and has served in the US Army.   


Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi

Rutgers University, New Brunswick                     

Prof. Amirahmadi is director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Amirahmadi is the founder and president of the American-Iranian Council, a research and policy think tank devoted to improving understanding between the peoples of Iran and the United States.

He is the author of Revolution and Economic Transition: The Iranian Experience and editor of 10 other books. His latest book is The Political Economy of Iran. National and international print and broadcast media outlets frequently interview him, including CNN and the New York Times. Amirahmadi has served as consultant to the United Nations, the Aga Khan Foundation, the World Bank and several governments, as well as private companies. He has presented at conferences around the world.


Sir Richard Dalton

Former U.K. Ambassador to Iran                    
Associate Fellow, Chatham House                    


Sir Richard Dalton, a British career diplomat from 1970 to 2006 had early experience in Lebanon, Jordan and Oman. From 1991-1992 he was a visiting research fellow at Chatham House and published a study on regional security architecture for the Persian Gulf region. He was responsible for dealings with the Palestinian Authority after the Oslo Accords, as Consul General in Jerusalem from 1993-1997. He returned to London as Director of Personnel at the Foreign Office in 1998.

In 1999 he re-established UK diplomatic relations with Libya as the first UK Ambassador to Tripoli for 17 years. In 2002 Sir Dalton was appointed Ambassador to Iran. He played a role in European efforts to negotiate with Iran, including the 2003 - 2006 diplomatic initiatives to prevent the development of an Iranian military nuclear capability.

In late 2008 he co-wrote the Chatham House Middle East Program report, “Iran: Breaking the Nuclear Deadlock”. From 2011 to date he has Chaired Chatham House’s Round Table on Libya.


Professor Emeritus Marvin Zonis

University of Chicago, Chicago                    
Founder, Marvin Zonis + Associates                    

Prof. Zonis is an American global political economist and expert on Middle Eastern politics and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. Professor Zonis has written extensively on globalization, digital technologies and emerging markets.





Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr.

Former President, Middle East Policy Council                    
Amb. Freeman is an American diplomat, author, and writer. He has served for the State and Defense Departments in many different capacities in the past thirty years, with the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs calling his career "remarkably varied". He most notably worked as the main interpreter for Richard Nixon in his 1972 China visit and as the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992, where he dealt with issues related to the Persian Gulf War. He is a past president of the Middle East Policy Council, co-chair of the U.S. China Policy Foundation, and vice-chair of the Atlantic Council.

Mr. Richard H. Matzke

Former Vice Chairman, Chevron                     
Founder and President, NESW Solutions                     
Mr. Matzke served as a member of the Board of Directors of LUKOIL, Russia’s largest oil company, from 2002 to 2010. During this time, he was Chairman of the Board’s Strategy and Investment Committee. Mr. Matzke retired from the Board of Directors of Chevron Oil Company in 2001 where he served as Vice Chairman. Mr. Matzke has a vast experience in international oil and energy sector. He has been a board member of numerous organizations involved in the oil exploration and trade industries.  


Ambassador William Miller

Senior Associate, Search for Common Ground                    
Amb. Miller is a Senior Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has led a distinguished career in the U.S. Foreign Service, U.S. Senate staff, academia, foundations, and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 1993 to 1998. Ambassador Miller had previously served as political officer for the U.S. Embassy in Tehran from 1962 to 1964 as well as the U.S. Consulate in Isfahan, Iran from 1959 to 1962. He spent 14 years on Capitol Hill, where he served as the staff director for three different Senate committees, including the Select Committee on Intelligence. Ambassador Miller has taught at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, and Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.  


Mr. Mohsen Movaghar

CEO, West Point Capital

Mr. Movaghar is President and CEO of West Point Capital headquartered in Los Angels, California. He holds a BA in economics and an MA in management and operations research from Northrop University. Mr. Movaghar has written numerous articles on economic matters and has participated in a number of research projects with Tehran and Melli University in Iran. He has been a supporter of many major Persian arts exhibitions and is a founding member of the Friends of Persia organization. 


Ambassador Richard B. Murphy

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs                    

Amb. Murphy has served as US ambassador to Mauritania, Syria, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. Later he served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East and South Asia.





Mr. Giandomenico Picco

Former Under-Secretary General, United Nations                    
CEO, GDP Associates                    

Mr. Picco, an Under Secretary General of the United Nations, is the personal representative of the Secretary General for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. He is also the CEO of GDP Associates, Inc. in New York City, and President of the non-governmental Peace Strategies Project in Geneva, Switzerland.


Ambassador Robert E. Hunter

Senior Fellow, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies                    

Ambassador Hunter served as United States Ambassador to NATO (1993-98) and is a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has served as Director of the Center for Transatlantic Security Studies at the National Defense University, Director of West European and Middle East Affairs on the National Security Council Staff in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, and as President of the Atlantic Treaty Association headquartered in Brussels. He is Chairman of the Council for the Community of Democracies, a member of the Secretary of State's International Security Advisory Board, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Ambassador Hunter has written more than 900 publications, including journal articles, book chapters, op-eds, and two books: Building Security in the Persian Gulf and Education Never Ends. He has also been a leading speech writer for several U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents. A Fulbright Scholar, Ambassador Hunter attended Wesleyan University (B.A.) and the London School of Economics (PhD).


Ambassador Charles A. Gargano

Partner, Greenview Realty Corporation                    


Ambassador Gargano is a partner at Greenview Realty Corporation. His vast experience spans both the private and public sector. Ambassador Gargano has spent more than 20 years in public service at the Federal and State level, serving two presidents as well as the administration of Governor Pataki. He was appointed by Governor Pataki and served as Chairman and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation and Vice-Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1995 to 2007. Mr. Gargano was a United States Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago from 1988 to 1991, and was also appointed Deputy Administrator of the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration in 1981.

Ambassador Gargano, a licensed professional engineer, was a partner in Posillico Construction and Engineering Corporation for 21 years before entering public service. Ambassador Gargano attended Fairleigh Dickinson University and Manhattan College and holds bachelors and masters degree in Civil Engineering and an MBA. Ambassador Charles Gargano also holds four honorary doctorate degrees.


Mr. Pirooz Parvarandeh

Chief Technology Officer, Maxim Integrated                    

Mr. Parvarandeh is currently serving as the Chief Technology Officer at Maxim Integrated, a $2.4 billion high-tech company. As the CTO, he promotes technical innovation and oversees Maxim Labs, which delivers fundamental breakthrough technology. Over the years Pirooz has been an industry leader in developing new technologies. In 2012 he joined the CTO Forum Advisory Board, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing industry's most important technical issues.

Beyond his career accomplishments, Mr. Parvarandeh and his wife Violet Parvarandeh have undertaken philanthropic work in support of Iranian students studying in the US who often face financial difficulty due to the sanctions. They have a serious humanitarian interest in the plight of emigrants in the US.

Mr. Parvarandeh holds BSEE and MSEE degrees from the California Institute of Technology.


Mr. Michael Shadman

Senior Director, U.S. Immigration Investment Center                    

Mr. Shadman is currently serving as a senior Director at the US Immigration Investment Center and is the principal of Shad Engineers, Inc. His expertise in and passion for renewable energy and green building technology will help bring an industry of the future behind the AIC’s mission to normalize US-Iran relations.

Mr. Shadman’s political feats have rivaled those of his business successes. With his wife Mahnaz Khazen, they served on the National Democratic Finance Committee for the 2012 Obama campaign, and on the election committee for Hooshang Amirahmadi’s 2013 campaign for the Iranian presidency.

Mr. Shadman was born in Iran and moved the U.S. to advance his education in 1978, He received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1986 and later, a Master of Science degree in Civil and Structural Engineering from San Jose State University in 1992.


Mr. Michael Caridi

Managing Director, Seahawk Capital Partners                    

Mr. Caridi is currently Managing Director of Seahawk Capital Partners, which specializes in business development & consulting, mainly in the biotechnology industry. He is also the Chairman of MAJIC Development Group LLC, and has been involved in several significant development projects, as well as construction for many Fortune 500 clients and retailers.

His philanthropic efforts have rivaled those of his business successes. In the past he has served on the Board of Directors of the Coalition of Italian American Associations; the Republican Leadership Council; The Forum Club; The National Ethnic and Charitable Organization; and The Italo American Foundation. He is proud member of the Lumen Institute and supporter of the New York City Police Foundation and C.O.R.E (Congress of Racial Equality).

Michael was born in Brooklyn and raised in Catskill, NY. A graduate of St. John’s University, Michael obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Business Administration.


Mr. Daryl Owen

President, Daryl Owen Associates                    

Daryl Owen Associates, Inc. was founded by Daryl Owen in 1991. Following 12 years as a staff member in the United States Senate, culminating in the leadership of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as Staff Director, Mr. Owen shifted his legislative and regulatory policy expertise to the private sector. He also served as chief of staff for US Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr. (D-LA) from 1978 to 1986.

Daryl Owen Associates, Inc. provide their clients with unique governmental experience, political insight, policy expertise, and countless professional relationships forged over decades of government and private sector interaction.

Mr. Owen completed his J.D. from Louisiana State University in 1981 and his B.A. in History in 1978. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Discovery Creek Children’s Foundation and as the Vice Chair of the J. Bennett Johnston Science Foundation.


Mr. Don King

Mr. Don King’s boxing promotion career began in 1972 when he asked heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali to help save a Cleveland hospital serving poor people. Ever since, King has promoted more than 500 world-championship fights, including six world-title fights. They have involved such boxing legends as: Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Forman, Joe Fraser and Evander Holyfield.

Mr. King has been featured on the covers of Time, Sports Illustrated, Ebony, Jet, and countless other magazines. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997 and is the only boxing promoter named to Sports Illustrated list of the “40 Most Influential Sports Figures,” and The New York Times included him among 100 African Americans who have helped shape American history.

Mr. King is not merely a boxing promoter. At heart, he is a civil rights activist and a multi-cultural peace promoter. The Don King Foundation has supported many charities: NAACP, UNCF, the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has also been bestowed with many honors, including the Black Achievement Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, The NAACP President Award, and Man of the Year Award.