M.A. in Nonprofit Leadership and Management
I am originally from Iran, from a very beautiful town in the northern province Amol. You might see this name several times when visiting heritage in well-known museums around the globe. I however moved to the capital city Tehran at the age of 17 to do my Bachelor studies in Agricultural Engineering and Food Technology. Upon graduation, I joined the academia and worked for seven years as a research officer who was responsible for processing research proposals, serving the research ethics secretariat, and organizing scientific events. I did my master's studies in Food Technology while working there.
My early connection to the world of leadership, through participation in a number of training workshops abroad and co-development of a program for young Iranian food and nutrition specialists, happened in the same period. I was also privileged to find opportunities to study food and nutrition security, i.e. sustainable access to adequate and safe food by all, and merge the concept with women's empowerment strategy taken from leadership development trainings. Besides academia, I have the experience of working with totally business-driven companies as well as nonprofit cultural philanthropic institutions. In the last 2 years, I have worked as a freelance coach and trainer, and collaborate with a Dutch partner company on my initiated leadership development programs for the food and nutrition specialists in Iran and the region.
What do you hope to do with your degree?
My first exposure to leadership concept was in a training workshop in 2007 in Jakarta. I am still carrying one notion mentioned by the program coordinator: "Our workshop costs could be justified if it could ignite even one or two participants for the leadership." And I can feel by my every cell what Socrates had once said: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not filling of a vessel”. Given the above, my intention deep down in my heart follows the same direction; first and foremost, besides learning the paradigms, conceptual frameworks, and techniques in the program, I hope the program can protect and nourish the leadership flame in me, and enables me to inspire and empower people throughout the life journey. Needless to say that with acquired knowledge and skills, and a professional network to be built during the program, I can realize my dreams through leading high impact civil societies. Women's empowerment has always been at the core, since it has the potential to profoundly affect the whole society, generations, well-being and development.
How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?
I had visited the department while I was in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) in 2010 at East-West Center, Hawaii, and was advised to enroll the program by a number of people attending the International Leadership Association Conference 2012 in US, including my mentor.
Tell us about any research or independent study you have done at SOLES.
I have not started any research at SOLES. However I would like to mainstream my work to women empowerment and improving food and nutrition security. Cultural understanding and Persian leadership are among other topics of high interest to me.
Have you completed an international experience?
Azadeh has not yet completed an international experience through SOLES, but provided some information on her previous international work.
I have had the opportunity to study in some international well-known programs. I participated in two leadership training programs for Nutrition people in Europe and South-east Asia. I took the 3 month intensive program on Food and Nutrition Security at Wageningen International, the Netherlands. And I enrolled in the 9-month Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP), at East-West Center, Hawaii. Meanwhile, I have presented the process of my initiative on leadership development program for the young Iranian food and nutrition specialists in a number of international conferences in United Arab Emirates, China, and the United States. I also took a number of short courses on leadership training in the Netherlands and during the ILA conferences.
Which class has impacted you the most?
So far I have taken just three classes. I cannot rank them by their impact however as all of them have been interesting in a special sense. For example, the course on fundamentals in nonprofit does have very broad and at the same time in-depth coverage of legal and practical issues applicable to civil societies. On the other hand, I have been very much connected to the Leadership course, as I have intensively been into the area in the last six years. Besides these, interactions with the faculty and classmates are amazing.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I have no doubt that philanthropy work is something in my heart and is my true north. My dream job, no matter whether it is for-profit or nonprofit in nature, must include this element to bring meaning and satisfaction to my career and life. I expect myself to make the world a better place to live in the present and future. I expect myself to help people uplift their lives, I expect myself to bring the light of empowerment to many lives, and I expect myself to have a big share in bringing peace, happiness, trust, and progress to the world. Numbers are not that much important. Every person counts, as (s)he deserves a humanitarian life!
Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective students?
I would like to take the opportunity and appreciate all those involved in different university departments and units who facilitated my enrollment. It was a totally coordinated action between scientific and executive players. And to me it looked like a tunnel construction endeavors from seemingly two opposing sides. My hopes remained alive throughout the process, by promising sounds of people who were digging the tunnel for me from the other side, the USD! Last but not least, I would like to extend my heart-felt gratitude to Roshan Cultural Institute, without its generous support it was almost impossible to start my graduate study. They made this milestone in my life a reality!