Board of Directors

Houtan Aghili

Senior Tech Staff, Manager, IBM

Sara Khalili - Vice Chair

Sara Khalili is a journalist, editor and translator of contemporary Iranian literature. She is the recipient of the PEN Translation Fund Award for her translation of Seasons of Purgatory, a selection of short stories by Shahriar Mandanipour. Her translations of Censoring an Iranian Love Story and Moon Brow, also by Mandanipour, were finalists for the Best Translated Book Award and the PEN Translation Prize. Ms. Khalili’s body of work includes translations of novels and poetry collections by renowned Persian literary figures including Shahrnush Parsipour, Goli Taraghi, Simin Behbahani, Siavash Kasraii and Fereydoon Moshiri. Her short story translations have been published in Kenyon Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Granta, EPOCH, and The Literary Review, among others.

Prior to entering the world of contemporary Persian literature, Ms. Khalili worked as a financial journalist and held various managerial and executive positions at Institutional Investor Inc., EuroMoney Inc., and Miller Freeman Inc. She was Managing Editor of Infrastructure Finance and Global Venture Capital and served as Director of the International Institute for Infrastructure Finance, dedicated to the study and advancement of the private sector’s role in the development and financing of sustainable infrastructure in emerging market economies.

Ms. Khalili’s contribution to Encyclopædia Iranica surpasses her role as a member of EIF’s Board of Directors. Under the aegis of Dr. Yarshater, she translated various articles for the Encyclopædia from the original Persian and edited several others for context. She also translated poetry by Behbahani and Moshiri for Encyclopædia entries and has contributed the article on the novel Censoring an Iranian Love Story. On a personal level, Ms. Khalili and her family enjoyed a decades-long friendship with Dr. Yarshater and remain supporters and contributors to his mission.

Ms. Khalili earned MA degrees in journalism and international affairs from New York University and a BA in political science from Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland.

Soody Nelson - Treasurer

Soody Nelson has more than 40 years of leadership and international experience in the financial services industry and management consulting for corporations, and for not-for-profit organizations. She is recognized for her visionary leadership, creative thinking, problem solving and strategic approach.

Ms. Nelson joined the Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation’s Board of Trustees at Dr. Yarshater’s recommendation in 2012 after a family friendship with Dr. Yarshater that spanned the previous 10 years. She joined the Board of Directors and was appointed Treasurer in 2014. 

Ms. Nelson is the founding Principal of Arta Advisors LLC, providing advice and solutions to senior managers and boards of companies, foundations, and start-ups.

Until July 2008, Ms. Nelson was a managing director at Standard & Poor’s, where she pioneered a multi-billion-dollar market for rated bonds backed by private equity and hedge fund investments. Ms. Nelson was a member of Standard & Poor’s Diversity Council and a frequent guest speaker at industry events.

As a principal of Global Resources Group, which she formed in 1991, Ms. Nelson advised on the strategic design and launch of the first all-female multi-manager, multi-strategy, Bermuda-based global hedge fund. As a member of the United Nations Volunteer Development Council, she helped with creation and implementation of the first educational and business development incubators in Russia promoting entrepreneurship.

Prior to Standard & Poor’s, Ms. Nelson held senior positions at Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and AIG Risk Management Inc. 

Ms. Nelson holds an MBA in management and marketing and a BA in cost accounting.

She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Crisis Center Inc. in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ardavan Nozari

Ardavan Nozari is a private investor and the founder and key principal of Nozari Advisors, which provides strategic advisory services for financial institutions.

Mr. Nozari has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry with roles focusing on risk management, funding and liquidity, portfolio structuring, and trading. He started his career in 1986 at Salomon Brothers as a quantitative research analyst. He continued to serve the company and its successors in various senior positions involving risk management, derivative trading, and alternative investments. Mr. Nozari joined Bank of America in 2005 as head of risk management for global markets and was subsequently promoted to lead enterprise market risk, firm wide. He rejoined Citigroup in 2010 as the Treasurer of Citigroup Global Markets Holdings — one the largest broker/dealers in the world. Mr. Nozari retired from Citigroup in 2013.

Mr. Nozari joined the Board of Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation in 2018. A long-term student of Iranian history and culture, he had followed the work of Dr. Yarshater over many years. 

Mr. Nozari received his undergraduate degree from Sharif Institute of Technology. He received his MS and PhD degrees in industrial engineering with a focus on operations research from The Pennsylvania State University. He worked in academia and at Bell Laboratories before joining the financial services industry.

Kamran Parandian, Esq. - General Counsel

Founder and Principal at Parandian Law Firm

Chase F. Robinson

Chase F. Robinson is the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, which constitute the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. He joined the museum in December 2018. As director, Robinson is leading the museum in a five-year strategy that will expand the museum’s celebrated collections of the arts of East Asia, South Asia and the Islamic world and foster an understanding of the arts, cultures and societies of Asia.

Robinson came to the Smithsonian from the Graduate Center, the research campus of the City University of New York, where he had served as President, Provost and Senior Vice President, and Distinguished Professor of History. From 1993 to 2008, Robinson was university lecturer and then professor of early Islamic history in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Wolfson College. He was educated at Brown, Harvard, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Cairo, the American University in Cairo, and the Middlebury College School of Arabic.

A scholar of Islamic history and culture, Robinson has devoted his career to research and public understanding about the Middle East and Asia. He has been awarded fellowships by the British Academy and Institute for Advanced Study, among other organizations. He authored or edited nine books and more than 40 research articles spanning the geographical and chronological breadth of the pre- and early modern Middle East. His Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives has been translated into several languages. His most recent publication, The Works of al-Ya’qubi, is a co-edited, three-volume set of translations of some of the earliest surviving works of history and geography in the Arabic language. His opinion pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today, among other newspapers and periodicals.

He has served on many boards and editorial committees and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ramine Rouhani - Chair

Ramine Rouhani met and came to know Dr. Yarshater through attendance in seminars and meetings on Iranian history, literature and civilization in New York, beginning in 1986. In 2013, Mr. Rouhani was invited to join the Board of the Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation under the presidency of Dr. Yarshater.

Mr. Rouhani began his professional career in 1978 at Scientific Systems, Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. where he worked in the areas of mathematical modeling, stochastic control, and optimization on grants from government and private agencies such as the EPA, NASA and EPRI. From 1982 to 1985, he was a consultant to the Investment Division of the Word Bank, where he worked on options for publicly traded financial securities. He also worked for the consulting firm Arthur D. Little in Washington, D.C. on econometric modeling of large public firms.

In 1985, Mr. Rouhani moved to Citibank in New York where he was responsible for options and derivatives modeling. He continued his career at Goldman Sachs and then at Franklin Savings Association. In 1990, he joined the asset management arm of the French bank CDC and became head of CDC Capital Markets in the U.S., and later moved to Paris as the global head of Structured Finance & Credit and member of the executive board of Natixis Investment Bank. Mr. Rouhani is currently with Pinehouse Capital LLC, a New York-based private investment partnership at which he is a founding partner. 

Mr. Rouhani holds a PhD from Stanford University in quantitative methods and economics, a MS in system sciences from University of California, Los Angeles, and an engineering diploma in telecommunications from ENST in Paris.