IRQR IS A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION GOVERNED BY A BOARD OF DIRECTORS WHO BRING A BROAD RANGE OF EXPERIENCE FROM THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS AND CIVIL SOCIETY.
The board is composed of three to nine individuals who are elected by the organization membership and sit for a term of two years. The day-to-day operations of IRQR, and the face of the organization is the executive director, Arsham Parsi, a passionate and respected LGBT activist based in Toronto, Canada.
The IRQR’s founder, Arsham Parsi, is a well-known Iranian gay activist who has dedicated himself to help LGBT/queer Iranians who has fled their country because of the government’s violent homophobic and transphobic policies.
In 2004, while still living in Iran, Arsham founded the first Iranian gay group that later called the IRanian Queer Organization – IRQO (formerly Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization – PGLO). Having been pursued by the police on his trail because of his gay activism, Arsham fled to Turkey in 2005, where he continued his work to publicize the plight of LGBT Iranians.
He was eventually granted asylum in Canada and he pursued his work for the cause while being interviewed extensively by media and featured in two documentary films, the CBC’s (Out in Iran); and Parvez Sharma’s (A Jihad for Love).
In 2008, Arsham was twice honoured, first by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)’s Felipa Sousa Award for pioneering gay activism and then by Toronto Pride with its award for Excellence in Human Rights.
President—Board of Directors
Stuart has extensive management experience in both non-profit and corporate sectors. His experience includes managing a program for financial professionals that are new to Canada with employment in their field. He is also an active volunteer in the Toronto LGBT community particularly through his ongoing work with the SOY program at the Sherbourne Health Centre.
Treasurer-Board Of Directors
Mo is a Certified Human Resources Professional with experience in strategic and diversity planning, training, and recruitment. He has also been volunteering for IRQR during Pride Toronto festivities to provide educational information and fundraising activities to promote IRQR. Mo has work in the public and non-profit sector regarding LGBT rights. While attending university he had been the Events Coordinator for an LGBT student equity group where education, activism, and fundraising events were the focus.
Board of Directors
Robert is children’s book creator and graduate of Pratt Institute in NYC. He’s served on the Board of Directors for the both the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Los Angeles, CA and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Robert is a long time volunteer for refugee and the homeless causes, and specializes in crowd funding. He’s the founder of 10 Horse Art Center located in New York State’s historic Hudson Valley.
Board of Directors
Borga is an award-winning film producer based in Toronto. He has produced four feature films, numerous shorts and commercials. His films have screened at prestigious festivals around the world, including Seattle, Victoria, Locarno, Toronto and Rotterdam. Originally from Turkey, and having lived in the US and Canada, Borga understands the plight of Iranian LGBT refugees as they make their journey from their home country in search of a better life. He is a firm believer in utilizing the power and outreach of the medium of cinema to raise awareness for human rights. Borga received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a masters from University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Board of Directors
Samaneh is a Registered Social Service Worker, with a Hon. BA degree in Sociology and a Social Service Worker diploma. Samaneh’s passion for human rights issues motivated her to first join IRQR as a student intern in 2011, assisting the executive director with the needs of the organization and continued after as a volunteer. She assisted in developing a resettlement workshop program to support refugees in Turkey.
Board of Directors
Stefanija completed her law degree (JD) at University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law. Previously, she attended University of Windsor (Political Science) and York University (Women’s Studies). Prior to entering law school, Stefanija co-founded a non-profit organization in her hometown of Novi Sad, Serbia. The organization, Putokaz, is aimed at assisting low income and marginalized communities through access to healthcare and a number of other programs.
Scott is an accomplished senior-level public affairs practitioner with a successful track record of engaging key stakeholders at the national, state and local levels. With an approach that integrates social media, earned and paid media and issue advocacy, Scott has successfully shaped public opinion and influenced policy outcomes on behalf of his clients. Scott develops goal driven content for use in social media and corporate public awareness campaigns. Recent successes include: increasing news media coverage of transportation safety issues in Washington state; creating digital and social media engagement strategies that compelled more than 12,000 New Mexican voters to participate in a public issue campaign; developing a “real people” story campaign that built engagement with a client’s global rebranding effort, resulting in improved employee retention; and, building third-party engagement with a trade association’s issue advocacy campaign.
Joseph continues to have a multi- faceted life. An Arts and Media Education Specialist, Retired NGO Representative on the United Nations Socio- Economic Council, former Executive Director for Hospice Fdt, twenty- one year tenure at a state university, and Executive Director for a state Non Profit agency serving abused children and teens, Joseph continues performing his one man dance, theatre, and storytelling performances and seminars on health, social, and humanitarian subjects. Galata is a television and radio journalist, grant writer, fundraising philanthropist, and financial coach.
After studying Political Science at the University of Siena and at the University of Galway, Dr Giulia Dondoli joined the University of Waikato to pursue her PhD in Human Rights Law. Giulia’s research focuses on transnational advocacy networks theories and she investigates how nongovernmental organisations are able to conceptualise new human rights standards. Giulia is currently working on her first book.
Charles builds capacity around strengthening the soft skills in LGBTQ+ communities while generating steam around youth engagement, homelessness, and marginalization within the community. As he works towards becoming an International Human Rights Lawyer he wishes to support LGBTQ+ youth navigate adversity through social and emotional intelligence so that they are able to successfully represent their best selves in both personal and professional relationships.
Ron’s diverse education and work experience have led him to develop a passion for community development and communications. With a career spanning the public, private and non-for-profit spheres, he focuses on improving and expanding program impact through thoughtful stakeholder engagement and multi-disciplinary strategy. From working with individuals to accomplish significant personal milestones to reaching millions of people through digital campaigns, Ron has been able to increase capacity and create lasting results for organizations across Canada.
Bahar holds a wealthy range of experience in the non-profit sector and spent some years advocating for children rights, social justice and LGBT community rights. she was the Project manager in implementing so many projects involved in Women Empowerment, Poverty eradication and LGBT rights movements across Africa and the Middle East. Although Bahar is professionally trained in Business Administration and worked several years in the Business environment, after moving to Canada, she decided to follow her heart and work as a volunteer activist in favour of the newcomer LGBT community. She is a strong believer in freedom of expression and choice and dedicated to achieving equal rights and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people across the globe.