Profile on new President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Jamal Abdi. First published in The Iranian on 18 May 2018:
November last year, in Virginia’s Fairfax county, an unarmed man in a car was gunned down after police officers pursued him in his vehicle. The man was Bijan Ghaisar, a 25 year-old American of Iranian heritage, and his death is a subject of an FBI investigation and potential unlawful killing.
Ghaisar comes up in conversation as Jamal Abdi is telling me why the community of Iranian Americans must stand up for universal civil rights.
Abdi has been a long-time key player of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and he became the Executive Director of its sister organization NIAC Action in 2015. He’s seen it through just about all the key milestones of US Iran relations in recent history: from getting sanctions dropped to pushing the Nuclear deal over the finishing line.
Seemingly not at all jaded by the struggle that comes with such change-making, Abdi is poised for what lies ahead as US President Donald Trump takes steps to unravel it all.
It’s a good thing too as he’s just been announced as NIAC’s new President, a position he will take up on August 1st. And one many will find hard to separate from its founder Trita Parsi, a man Abdi considers a mentor and inspiration. Abdi admits “This has been the big testing point of this organization. Can you move beyond your founder to become an institution?”