August 11th, 2018
12th Annual Seattle Iranian Festival Poster

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Robert Nellams

Feature Guest
Robert Nellams

Robert Nellams has directed Seattle Center since his mayoral appointment in 2006. He served as Deputy Director from 1998 and Director of Patron Services, 1996-1997. Robert started his City career as an accountant in the Department of Administrative Services.

Robert considers Seattle Center to be the heart and soul of our community. With a firm grasp of both the business and bureaucracy of the City department he heads, he focuses on building the capacity of Seattle Center to delight and inspire the human spirit in ways that strengthen communities. During his tenure as Director, Robert has negotiated homes at Seattle Center for many organizations that contribute significantly to the livability and economy of the region through the performing arts, family activities, free public programming and professional and collegiate sports. He has worked closely on behalf of the City to finalize a Memorandum of Understanding and transaction documents with Oak View Group to renovate and operate KeyArena - and to welcome the WNBA to KeyArena, Chihuly Garden and Glass and Artists at Play playground to the former Fun Forest areas and Seattle International Film Festival, KEXP, Cornish College of the Arts and PrideFest onto the grounds. He also led efforts to bring Seattle/King County Clinic to KeyArena. In its first four years, the four-day dental, vision and medical clinic served 16,300 patients to a broad range of free healthcare services.

Robert is a member of the Board of Directors for The Northwest African American Museum and was recently elected Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Central Washington University (he previously served as Chair of the CWU Foundation Board). He is also a member of The Breakfast Group, a Seattle-based non-profit service organization devoted to mentoring African-American and other low-income and at-risk male youth of color. A native of Seattle and graduate of Franklin High School, Robert holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Central Washington University.

Jasmin Darznik

Feature Guest
Jasmin Darznik

Jasmin Darznik is a New York Times Bestselling Author, and has already honored the Seattle Iranian Festival with an appearance in 2011, promoting her memoir The Good Daughter. We are thrilled to invite her back with a book very relevant to our 2018 festival theme of Persian Poetry.

Jasmin Darznik’s debut novel Song of a Captive Bird is a fictional account of Iran’s trailblazing woman poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. It was selected as a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” as well as one of 2018’s “Best Books” by Vogue, Ms. and Newsweek. Jasmin is also the author of the New York Timesbestseller The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Her books have been published and are forthcoming in seventeen countries and her essays have appeared in numerous periodicals, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.

Jasmin was born in Tehran, Iran and came to America when she was five years old. She holds an MFA in fiction from Bennington College and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University. Now a professor of English and creative writing at California College of the Arts, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and is working on a novel set in 1920s San Francisco.

Visit jasmin-darznik.com or on Facebook

Group of Emcees

Group of Emcees
Maryam & Gazalle, Nusha Sepehri & Bahar Foroutan

Nusha Sepehri is 14 years old and has been very active in variety of Iranian related programs. Besides being an Emcee this year, Nusha has designed the Word Search Puzzle for the children’s activities, will open the festival by singing the U.S. national anthem and also perform with the Seattle Iranian Choir.

Gazalle Willecke, has been extremely active with IACA and we are delighted to have her as one of our amazing Emcee's, again. Gazalle was a Former High School teacher and current Restoritive Justice coordinator at a middle school for the Renton School District. She is passionate about equitable education, social justice, humanity and a proud Mashhadi/American.

Bahar Foroutan, 15, moved to the United States at age of 8. She is a competitive swimmer and an amazing tombak player. Bahar loves to be involved in Iranian Community; she has been an active member of Kanoon since it was established in 2011.

Maryam Hosseini has been one of your amazing Emcee's for the last two years. Maryam loves a good story. Especially if it is about the triumph and success of Iranians around the world. Her love for community building, equity, and storytelling has shaped her decade long career in communications, leading her to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Check out her talk at Ignite Seattle. Maryam is in the process of publishing a book of short essays called Persianality, chronicling the pain and humor of growing up as an Iranian teenager in America.

Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Featured Guest
Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak is a retired Professor of Persian language, literature, and culture at the University of Maryland and a Visiting Professor at the UCLA. Before that, he was a Professor and chair of the Persian and Iranian Studies program at the University of Washington for 19 years. He has studied in Iran and the United States, received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University in 1979, and is the author, editor or translator of over twenty academic books and around one hundred and fifty research articles, some of which have been translated into other languages. The study of language, literature and culture in their various sociopolitical contexts has always been at the center of his scholarly pursuits.

Shiva Shafii & Farzam Fattahi

Featured Performances
Karavans Dance Troupe, Elham Hakimi, Emiko Karunamrita Noor Nakamura, and Pooneh Alizadeh

We are delighted & excited to share with you the following dance performances by Karavans Dance Troupe, Elham Hakimi, Eurasia Ensemble and Academy founded by Emiko Karunamrita Noor Nakamura, as well as director of Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (AMED), Pooneh Alizadeh.

Elham is a proud Iranian-American who enjoys sharing her love of Persian culture and dance and finds great joy in her work as a... See More — with Elham Hakimi, Emiko Karunamrita Noor Nakamura and Pooneh Al.

 K-von

Featured Guest
K-von

K-von is by far the most famous half-Persian comedian in the world. Mainly because he is the only one.

He's toured with Maz Jobrani, been on MTV, Netflix, and gave a much loved TED Talk.

Each week he posts a new comedy clip on youtube.com/KvonComedy that goes viral. Check it out there or on www.Kvon.tv

Come laugh and take a photo's at the meet & greet during the Festival!

Shiva Shafii & Farzam Fattahi

Featured Guest
Shiva Shafii & Farzam Fattahi

Born in the captivating city of Shahi, Farzam began his music career from the youthful age of seven. He was an attentive violin student of several professional instructors. While being mentored, Farzam acquired a talent to play both classical and traditional Persian music. In addition, he taught himself to play the piano, guitar, and sign for leisure.

Upon moving to the United States in 1978, Farzam concentrated his talent exclusively on playing the piano and guitar, while complementing his music with vocal performances. Ten years after moving to the new country, Mr. Bijan Mortazavi inspired him to pick up a violin again. Since then, he started playing violin professionally. he has created his unique and exciting way of playing this instrument.

After 20 years, Farzam moved to California in 2005 to pursue his aspiration to become a professional musician and singer. Farzam now performs with many well known musicians like Professor Pouian and continues to produce harmonious and catching tunes. Welcome back Farzam Jan!

A native of Charleston, West Virginia, Shiva Shafii has been immersed in the classical music world since the age of 10. She began her violin studies with acclaimed music educator and pedagogue Ian Jessee and continued her musical studies at West Virginia University studying with Dr. Mikylah Myers. Shiva has participated in masterclasses with renowned concertmasters Glenn Dicterow (New York Philharmonic), David Kim (Philadelphia Orchestra) and celebrated violinists Midori, Rachel Barton Pine, and Jeffrey Multer. Music festivals studies include Brevard and Eastern Music Festivals, along with summers studying chamber music at the Cleveland Institute of Music Chamber Invitational.

It was in France that Najmieh decided to follow her passion for cooking. With the help of her friends and neighbors, she wrote her first cookbook, Ma Cuisine d’Iran.

Currently the Public Relations Manager of the Grammy-award winning Seattle Symphony, Shiva previously was the Marketing and Communications Director for her hometown orchestra, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. One of 30 orchestra administrators selected nationwide, Shiva was an Essentials of Orchestra Management Fellow in July 2016 for the League of American Orchestras, an immersive ten-day seminar which prepares young emerging orchestra managers to lead successfully in the 21st century.

In West Virginia, Shiva was active in Charleston’s musical community by maintaining a small private violin studio, frequently coaching young musicians with the West Virginia Youth Symphony, and hosting a weekly radio show, Bringing Sexy Bach, that was geared towards guiding novice classical music listeners. She was also a freelance make-up artist, and writer with the West Virginia Gazette writing about classical music and travel, including a feature on Iran.

Najmieh Batmanglij

Featured Guest
Najmieh Batmanglij

Najmieh Batmanglij will sign books, host live cooking demonstration, and share information about the release of her newest book, "Cooking in Iran."

Najmieh Batmanglij was born and raised in Iran. During her childhood, her mother wouldn’t allow her in the kitchen. “Concentrate on your education,” she would say. “There will be plenty of time for you to cook later in life.”

Najmieh came to America in the 1960s to study at university and would cook Persian food with fresh local produce using recipes sent by her mother in letters. Her housemates loved the food she made and encouraged her to cook all the more. Little did she know that the American food revolution had just begun. Later, when Najmieh returned to Iran with her master’s degree in education in hand, her mother welcomed her into the kitchen and started to work with her.

At the end of 1979, as the Iranian Revolution took a more fundamentalist turn, Najmieh and her husband fled to France, where their first son Zal was born.

It was in France that Najmieh decided to follow her passion for cooking. With the help of her friends and neighbors, she wrote her first cookbook, Ma Cuisine d’Iran.

In 1983 she and her husband emigrated to America, where she gave birth to their second son, Rostam, and wrote her first book in English, Food of Life.

Najmieh has spent the past 35 years cooking, traveling, and adapting authentic Persian recipes to tastes and techniques in the West. She has been hailed as “the guru of Persian cuisine” by The Washington Post. Her Food of Life was called “the definitive book on Iranian cooking” by the Los Angeles Times. Her Silk Road Cooking was selected as one of the 10 best vegetarian cookbooks of 2004 by The New York Times; and her book From Persia to Napa: Wine at the Persian Table won the Gourmand Cookbook Award for the best wine history book of 2007.

Najmieh is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and lives in Washington, DC, where she teaches Persian cooking, and consults with restaurants around the world!

Festival Program

Celebrating a Millennium of Persian Poetry