Meet the 2017 Fellows

The Ansari Fellowship Program, an initiative of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans (PAAIA), is excited to announce its inaugural year recipients as Arianna Zoghi and Parisa Pirooz. Arianna and Parisa will undertake public service work this summer with the support of the fellowship.


arianna zoghi

Undergraduate Fellow, Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office

Arianna Zoghi grew up in northern Virginia. She is twenty years old and has two younger siblings, Laila and Bijan. She just finished her second year at the University of Virginia, where she is pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in public policy.

During the spring semester, Arianna interned at the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, a nonprofit law firm that provides post-conviction representation in death penalty cases. She really enjoyed this internship and decided that she would like to continue working in the field of capital law. With the support of the Ansari Fellowship, she is now interning at the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office where she assists attorneys who provide trial-level representation to those charged with capital crimes.

parisa pirooz

Graduate Fellow, International Center for Non-Profit Law

Parisa Pirooz a passionate human rights advocate whose career path is devoted to advancing the lives of all women alike. Her drive for achieving gender-equality has led her to travel extensively around the world to study and work on specific issues pertaining to women. 

Parisa’s interest in gender issues stemmed from her acceptance as a visiting student at Oxford University, where she studied international human rights law and feminism in the Middle East. This led to her most recent journey of moving to the Middle East to work for a Jordanian non-profit organization that promotes national policies and practices towards women to become consistent with international standards. Here, Parisa assisted local human rights attorneys with outreach programs that involved refugees and youth groups on matters regarding sexual violence, honor killings and combating gender inequality in society. 

Much of Parisa's free time is devoted to volunteering for causes involving women and human rights. She has provided volunteer services for conferences at the United Nations and has worked directly for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. Her leadership involvement for working with marginalized populations was personally recognized by the U.S. White House, who deemed Parisa as a “trusted voice and leader in the community.” Upon completing her Masters Degree in Political Science from George Mason University, Parisa decided to pursue her dream of becoming an international human rights lawyer. She is currently a J.D. candidate at The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., where she is simultaneously working to assist overseas clients in obtaining refugee status in the U.S.  This summer she will be working at the International Center for Non-Profit Law with the support of the fellowship.