Teachers, Mentors and counsellors

 Payvand Cultural Art Center 2017



Fariba Nejat is a leading Iranian-American community organizer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, teacher, and portrait painter. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Physics from the Shahid Beheshti University (formerly Meli University) in Iran, B.S. in Computer Science and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from the National University in San Jose, California. Before assuming leadership roles with various not-for-profit organizations and in the community, she worked as a technology leader in Silicon Valley, California, and also volunteered with Santa Clara Valley charities.

She became certified high school teacher in Iran and thought Physics and Math till 1983. Her passion of creating teaching technique through science and Art helped her on creating a system to teach Iranian American how to read and write Persian. She became mentors to so many youth in Silicon Valley.

She was featured as “one of the six women who changed the face of Silicon Valley” by the San Jose Mercury News in 2004. She has also produced a number of award-winning artistic paintings and sculptures. For example, one of her paintings, “Beaded Veils from the Gulf,” was prominently-displayed in the Capitol Building in Sacramento as a representative of district 13 of California. Her artwork has culminated in a manifestation titled “Faces in the Crowd” which displays her love for art and people. Of particular achievement in this regard is her work on the portrait painting of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, which included a message of peace by one of the greatest Iranian poets, Sa’di.




Kathy Homara is a New Thought professionally licensed science of mind spiritual leader, speaker, ritualist and officiator and recently completed her Master’s Degree in Consciousness Studies, focused on education, science, psychology, philosophy and world religions. Her passion for understanding human potential and her love for life, science, humanity and the way of the Universe has taken her from the corporate world toward a path of enlightenment and wisdom teaching. She serves, empowers and educates communities to enable them to transform their lives, live their dreams and thrive. Kathy is committed to teaching principles of life, living fully and loving freely.

Currently Kathy serves at the San Jose Center for Spiritual Living, Payvand and Iranian Women’s Federated Club providing spiritual support to people with health, relationship and career discontentment. Kathy also offers classes on foundations of spiritual parenting, principles of life, radical forgiveness, and living powerfully and abundantly. Based on availability, Kathy also offers various ceremonies including weddings and memorial services.

Kathy is environmentally awake. She sees a world that works for everyone and holds the vision for our children and future generations to thrive in peace and harmony on our beautiful blue and green planet. Kathy knows we are borrowing this planet from our children and nurturing our children’s brilliant minds is the key to our futures. She is a dedicated advocate for gifted children. She believes in an education system and curriculum that empowers children and their innovative minds through hands-on experiences, combined with Science of Mind and Spirit wisdom teachings. Kathy is a very artistic, creative and grounded in her spiritual practices such of love, companionship, and peace as the ground of her path to excellence. Kathy believes nurturing the potential of children is one of the most important solutions to our future now. Nurturing our future generation is one of the most important keys to longevity as a thriving human race. Kathy’s natural inclination in the field of human potential along with her organizational skill, and spiritual practices has helped her to live powerfully and overcome many challenges as the mother of two young boys. Kathy loves and values music, dance, nature, and spiritual conscious living as the ground of her being and the welfare of our children and this blue planet.




Taraneh has strong people skills, experienced in traveling the world and living within different cultures. She loves learning different languages and speaks French and has some knowledge of Italian language. She is passionate about teaching Farsi to non Farsi speakers and English to Iranians!
She studied spiritual science and philosophy, as well as several media such as oil, acrylic and water color, in fine arts. She has been teaching Farsi classes at the Los Gatos Community Center for many years.
She has been an active Realtor involved in home sales within Santa Clara County since 1989.
Taraneh received her Masters Degree in Business from University of Missouri in 1983 and her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from University of Missouri in 1980. She received her California Real Estate License in 1989 and Certificate in Office Administration from West Valley College in 1997. She also has passed the interpretation skills tests for Stanford Hospital. She became Farsi / Persian Language instructor since 2003.
Her father Mohamad Ali Yazdanfar was a well known poet, author and scholar in the Persian community who passed away in 2015. He left behind numerous books written and hand scripted by himself. He spent 35 years of his life in this country to revive Persian language and culture. Taraneh is following her father’s footsteps in this mission. Her goal in life is to keep his legacy alive.


Mojgan is a preschool teacher who provides her students with the appropriate developmental activities that fosters all their emotional¨ intellectual¨ and physical needs. Mojgan believes that teachers are detrimental in impacting their children’s lives as they have an enriching effect on both their educational and lifelong aspirations.  As a result kids should be given the opportunity to further explore their environment based on the interests they have in order to promote student learning and achievements in a diverse setting.

Mojgan holds an AA degree in Child Psychology and Development as well as Liberal Arts emphasized in Social Behavior with honors from De Anza College.

In addition, she has a Certification in Achievement, Advanced in Child Development. Mojgan is currently an undergrad at San Jose State University and is pursuing a major in Art Studio Practice. Besides her professional endeavors. Mojgan dedicates her time to her family and enjoys going to the movies with her kids. She also appreciates reading novels and doing art work.





Faranak’s passion for music started at the tender age of 5 when she started playing the piano. She studied music and theory privately in Iran until she emigrated to America, eventually-earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Music and Piano Performance. The inspiration for her music is drawn from her life experiences and is evident in her compositions.

Faranak’s distinctive style has been compared to masters like George Winston and earned her the label of “the female Yanni”.  Her poetic performances touch people’s hearts and have won international acclaim. Experiencing a Faranak performance leaves audiences with an appreciation for her signature style..

Faranak has performed in many venues including several for industry and celebrity events in California’s beautiful Napa Valley. She completed a Wine Themed Album which was endorsed by the industry legend, Robert Mondavi.

She’s had major stars singing her songs, including Lenny Williams of Tower of Power, Syreeta Wright (Stevie Wonder’s ex-wife), and she also has a piece on the original motion picture soundtrack for Down and Dirty starring Gary Busey.

Faranak’s music is available to experience on Faranak Shahroozi Stations on both Pandora (www.pandora.com) and Spotify (www.spotify.com).





Sabiba has spent her life performing various genres of dance from Jazz to Flamenco to Middle Eastern belly dance, as well as teaching dance interpretation.

When not performing or teaching, she loves her work improving patient health as a Registered Dietitian specializing in Diabetes with a Bachelors of Science from San Jose State University. She has been performing, Choreographing and Teaching Persian dances for many year.




Neda graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Biology and Public Health Science. After graduating, she first worked at a private pain management clinic and later transitioned to Stanford Hospital’s oncology center as a clinical medical assistant. After gaining exposure to the many different areas of healthcare that exist, Neda decided to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy; a holistic healthcare profession that helps patients with physical or cognitive impairments achieving independence and participation in their daily activities to living a meaningful life. Neda was attracted to Occupational Therapy because she sees it has a combination of arts and science. 

Although Neda has dedicated a significant portion of her life to working in the medical field, she believes that a successful life is a balanced one; one in which you explore your passions alongside your studies and/or career. As an Iranian-American who was born and raised in California, it was always important for Neda to keep her Iranian culture alive within herself. For almost two decades, Neda has been actively involved in traditional and modern Iranian dance classes, choreographies, and performances throughout the Bay Area. In the process, she learned the art of embodying the passion of Iranian music with grace, elegance and confidence. She strives to teach these skills to others. She is also particularly interested in being a voice of inspiration and advocacy for the younger Iranian-American generation who may feel confused in identifying themselves. Neda understands the challenges that come, by trying to bridge two cultures as one, and her goal is to guide Iranian Americans by connecting and learning about their Iranian roots.


Persian Story Teller

Michael Stroud, aka “Magic Mike”, is a 12-time award-winning magician, consultant, inventor, author and lecturer in the art of magic.

His performances range from strolling close-up sleight-of-hand or “street style” magic to grand stage illusions with a live band and a cast of circus performers. He has appeared on radio and television across the US, Japan, Europe, and India and has been featured on a Bill Moyers PBS Special.

He has performed as headline entertainment in 12 countries as well as throughout hotels in Las Vegas and at the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. As an author, his best-selling “Book of Magic” through Klutz Press has sold over 2 million copies. He has been published multiple times and has contributed to 9 titles currently at your local bookstore.

He blends comedy, audience participation, circus skills and many surprises with special effects in his performances. Each show is carefully customized for maximum impact and he performs many classic magic feats as well as inventions of his own you will see no one else perform. His repertoire includes magic from around the world- including esoteric art forms many audiences will never get a chance to see live, in person. 
For his close-up magic, he causes borrowed objects to float in the air, coins turn invisible and reappear right in your own hand, amazing acts of esp and mind-reading, and dextrous abilities with a pack of cards that take years of diligent practice. Your guests will be spellbound and bursts of laughter will be heard rippling through the room inbetween rounds of applause for an experience you will not forget, by this master of the craft of magical entertainment.


Armin Agha-Ebrahim coordinates with Payvand to build awareness about Payvand’s special capabilities among community members , while establishing a bridge with in communities in Northern California. Having been born and raised in Silicon Valley, he has a sense of innovation that could only be instilled into him by the countless years spent in the backyards of local tech corporations.

Armin is a recent graduate from Saratoga High School, one of the highest ranking schools in the entire United States, and the intense competition there has only fueled his desire for success. He strives to be the best among his peers not only academically, but athletically as well; Armin was a varsity water polo athlete all four years during his high school career, even being awarded MVP his final year.

With proven leadership, excellent organizational skills, and minute attention to detail, Armin has shown beyond any doubt that he is an extremely valuable team player.

He is currently a dedicated student at De Anza College working towards a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, with plans afterwards to further his mastery of the tech business by enrolling in an MBA program.

Armin is also presently employed as a sales & marketing lead at a tech startup for which he is a crucial cornerstone of the operation, but never allows his work to interfere with his passion for Payvand.

As a proud Iranian-American, Armin hopes to bring the community and its culture closer together by working for Payvand, while making unique connections and furthering his own career.


16 year-old Neeka Mirpour is a teen commissioner at Payvand. Born in Mountain View and an attendant of Saratoga High School, she has a unique, yet educated perspective of the needs of both the youth and the general community around her. She has effectively used her skills to volunteer and closely work with non-profit organizations like the YMCA, and other centers such as retirement homes, tutoring centers, and soup kitchens. Motivated by her immigrant parent’s struggles to initially assimilate into American culture, she wishes to one day mimic their success and drive.
Attending Farsi/Persian school during her childhood, she eventually attained the skills to fluently speak, read, and write Farsi/Persian. As an Iranian-American fully immersed into both cultures, she is impassioned to help other Iranian-Americans keep in touch with their ethnic roots, while simultaneously participating in American culture. She hopes to give motivation to such youth to bring mainstream awareness to the Persian culture.
Her passion for writing has been recognized among her teachers and schools, going as far as winning awards for her achievements. Her other passions also include reading and art. She wishes to one day pursue a career in political science with a background in international affairs.


Sarina Zadeh was born and raised in Tehran-Iran . She went to Kherad School and Rabbani High school and recently graduated from Foothill high school in Pleasanton, California at age 16.

Her passion in art, robotic and science strives her to aim high and always want more. She was in her school’s robotic team and created a technology for brail language. Sarina and her team also attended the international competition and won the first place. She also participated in the women’s basketball team and won a lot of games.

Coming to US in the first year and graduating at the age of 16 with high GPA showed excelling beyond self / pose limitations. This showed that she has the ability to manage others more effectively.

Sarina will soon attend De Anza college.  She wants to study in the medical fields of pharmacy, health care, psychology, etc., and then pursue her MBA. For the past 5 months she became one of the Payvand’s intern to evaluate the English skills of the Iranian-American new comers and assist them with their English test taking skills. She also tutored math in her high school. Sarina used to play the piano for almost 6 years. She comes from a very well known family who are artists. She would like to leverage her knowledge in arts to help Payvand’s youth.

She looks forward to teaching her own first language to people whom Persian/Farsi is their second language in Payvand. Sarina hopes to build a community that is close to her culture.


Amir Kalantar has been working very closely with Payvand for the past year. He serves as a project manager, oversees day to day operations and manages finances. Amir comes from a long line of noteworthy business professionals who have shaped his self-driven and focused mind. At a very young age Amir became a successful investor and entrepreneur. He was later hired as a buyer for a renowned men’s formalwear retail chain. In addition, Amir is a business consultant who works with businesses from various industries. As an Iranian-American, Amir is constantly looking for ways to give to his community. His passion and devotion to helping others is unparalleled.
His achievements don’t distract him from his ultimate goal of becoming a plastic surgeon. Amir’s fascination with plastic surgery began at the very young age of four. While his friends dreamt of becoming presidents, Amir dreamt of how many lives he could enhance through plastic surgery.


Behnaz Dahmubed is a Zoroastrian Iranian born and brought up in India. She has a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from one of the prestigious university in India, namely University of Bombay.

She is a multilingual, fluent in English, Dari, Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi, as a result she learnt to speak Farsi on her own by interacting with the Persians.

She has worked as a Senior Financial Analyst for high tech companies for over 20 years. She is now decided to take a different career path where she can balance her work life. Currently, she is working on getting her Certification in Floral Designing, which she enjoys thoroughly.

She is a very devoted mother to her two kids and a caring daughter to her frail mother.



Community Web Designer

Alan is a Vietnamese-American web designer who graduated from Santa Clara University. He has spent a majority of his career working in IT but has recently left his job at Stanford University to transition into web development. He has been working on the community website for the past few months. He came to Payvand wanting to break into a culture he wished to learn more about and the diversity of the community that he lives in.