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Iranian Americans among Immigrants from 37 Nationalities Honored on Ellis Island

June 12, 2017
From left to right: Shaheen Tedjarati, Andy Madadian, Mohammad Farzaneh, Hossein Eslambolchi, Abbas Ardehali, Azita Raji, Hormoz Ameri, and Cumrun Vafa

Independent Aggregator of Iran-related news/Events, Kodoom.com: Last month among 90 honorees from 37 nationalities, Shaheen Tedjarati, Andy Madadian, Mohammad Farzaneh, Hossein Eslambolchi, Abbas Ardehali, Azita Raji, Hormoz Ameri, and Cumrun Vafa were the eight distinguished Iranian Americans who received Ellis Island Medals of Honor in recognition of outstanding citizenship, individual achievement and cultural unity. Other honorees included 87-year-old former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, CNN's Fareed Zakaria, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, the First Lady of Maryland Yumi Hogan, according to the Medals sponsor NECO, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, headed by Nasser Kazeminy. Previous recipients of the Medal included six Presidents of the United States as well as notable Americans such as Rosa Parks, Frank Sinatra, Lee Iacocca, Quincy Jones, and Muhammad Ali.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, some 40 percent of U.S. citizens can trace an ancestor to Ellis Island. “My father spent 5 days on Ellis Island, when he first came to US - exactly 70 years ago,” said Iranian American Dr. Abbas Ardehali, Director of UCLA’s Heart and Lung Transplant Programs and one of this year's honorees. According to Huffington Post, other Iranian American honorees included:

Cumrun Vafa (right)

Cumrun Vafa, a winner of the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. A string theorist at Harvard University, his research is focused on the nature of quantum gravity and the relation between geometry and quantum field theories. “As an Iranian-American, I am inspired by the legacy of ancient Persian mathematicians and scientists,” Vafa says. “Science is a timeless borderless adventure. I sincerely hope that this great American tradition to bring people from different cultures together and to promote and nurture science will continue.” Vafa is a trustee of NIKI, Network of Iranians for Knowledge and Innovation.

Azita Raji, the first Iranian-born American to serve as a U.S. ambassador was nominated by former President Barack Obama to serve as the United States ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden. Ms. Raji served as National Finance Vice Chair and Chair of Swing State Victory Fund for the Obama campaign. Raji arrived in the United States when she was 17 from Iran to attend Barnard College. She has since had an illustrious career as a diplomat, banker and philanthropist. “Tonight is another reminder that inclusion is not just a moral imperative, but smart policy. America is strong, because we value diversity,” Raji said.

Azita Raji

Hormoz Ameri is President of Naftex Oil Exploration Group, one of the top 20 oil and gas production companies in California. He is the past Chairman and member of Stanford University’s Petroleum Investments Committee (PIC), and Trustee of Farhang Foundation, a philanthropic organization with the mission of promoting Iranian art and culture based in Los Angeles.

Dr. Shaheen Tedjarati is Gynecologic Oncologist and Professor of Robotic Surgery at New York Medical College and Westchester Medical Center. “As an Iranian Baha’i,” Tedjarati said in the medals ceremony “I was honored to be a recipient, ever cognizant of the greater need for unity in diversity as our strength rather than a threat, on the eve of 9th anniversary of unjust imprisonment of 7 Baha’i leaders in Iran, whose strength and dignity stand as such example.”

Dalai Lama speaks with Whoopi Goldberg and Andy Madadian at the One World Concert

Andy Madadian, is an international recording artist who is specially popular among the 110 million Persian and 6 million Armenian speakers in the world. In 2014, he won The Millennium Award at the Big Apple Music Awards and has performed alongside Jon Bon Jovi and performed at the One World Peace Concert with the Dalai Lama (News link). “As an Iranian Armenian American, I’m honored to be among some of the most accomplished people of the world that are here in America, the land of immigrants,” Madadian said. “And I’d like to also thank all of the Americans who came here before me who paved the way for me to flourish in this beautiful place,” he added.

Mohammad Farzaneh came to America from Iran to attend university in 1978. After his graduation from University of Oklahoma in 1981, Farzaneh followed in his father’s steps as a master builder. In 1994, Mohammad and his brother Jalal found Home Creations, a company that has grown to be one of Oklahoma’s largest home builders today. The foundation recently presented a $4 million gift to the College of International Studies and unveiled Omar Khayyam statue at The University of Oklahoma in Norman (See news link).

Farzaneh brothers during unveiling ceremony of Omar Khayyam statue at The University of Oklahoma in Norman

Maggie Soleimani is the first Iranian-American Jewish woman appointed to two high-profile Commissions in Los Angeles County and an advocate for children and young adults with special needs. She has held many community leadership roles including the Jewish National Fund, League of Women voters, founding member of a B’nai B’rith chapter and the multi-cultural committee of the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi is Chairman and CEO of 2020 Venture partners and recognized in the scientific community as a leader and technological scientist. As AT&T’s Chief Transformation Officer, he developed and executed a comprehensive four stage strategy that included Enterprise Customer Service, Network Transformation, Services Transformation and Cultural Transformation; essentially, the overhaul and remodeling of the company that was dubbed the ‘new’ AT&T.

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