Coalition Language Representatives

Asieh Bahrami is a dedicated educator with a master's degree in Persian literature. She currently serves as the director at the Persian Cultural Center Inc., a non-profit language, art, and culture school working with Iranian students age 3 and up to high school.

At the Persian Cultural Center, Asieh and her team not only teach the Farsi language but also celebrate and preserve Iranian cultural heritage. They organize and participate in various cultural events that showcase dance, music, literature, and plays in Farsi. These events not only instill a sense of pride in the Iranian heritage but also create a vibrant and engaging learning environment for the students. In addition to Iranian events, Asieh ensures that American celebrations like Halloween are also incorporated to promote cultural diversity and inclusivity.

With years of experience in curriculum development, Asieh has worked diligently to create age-appropriate books and materials for students age 4 and above. She has particularly focused on bilingual education, developing a comprehensive first-grade and above curriculum that follows a structured approach to grammar, vocabulary, and sentence building. Additionally, for students in third grade and above, she has designed educational resources that delve into the history, geography, and poetry of Iran, fostering a deeper connection with their heritage.

Inspired by her vision to expand the school and provide more cultural activities, Asieh is currently seeking to create a larger space. Her goal is to offer an even wider range of workshops and events to keep the Iranian heritage alive for future generations. With her passion for education and commitment to preserving cultural traditions, she is making a significant impact on the lives of her students and the community at large.

Shahnaz Ahmadeian Fard, Ph.D. holds a Master of Arts in Policy Studies in Language and Cross-Cultural Education as well as a Ph.D. in Education. She is the Director of Programs at San Diego State University's Language Acquisition Resource Center (SDSU-LARC), where she oversees two grant-funded programs (STARTALK and SAILN). Since 2008, she has been involved in the SDSU-LARC STARTALK program. She has directed numerous STARTALK student programs and teacher workshops since 2013. In her capacity as director of the Southern Area International Languages Network (SAILN), one of the California World Language Project's sites, she oversees and manages their ongoing professional development programs and other activities. She is also the Vice Principal of the Iranian heritage school in San Diego, one of the largest and oldest Persian heritage language schools outside of Iran, with an average of 250 students enrolled each year. She has co-authored six textbooks designed specifically for heritage students for the school's beginner to advanced level courses, the majority of which are used by other heritage institutions around the world.

Farrokh Farrokhzad, Ph.D., holds a Bachelor and Master of Art in English Language and Literature and a Doctor of Education. He represents Persian (Farsi) and Azerbaijani Turkish (Azari) with the Coalition. He managed and directed language schools in the Middle East for 15 years and taught, supervised, and trained teachers Middle East public and private schools for 12 years. He is proficient in English, Persian, Azerbaijani or Azeri, also known as Azerbaijani Turkish (his mother tongue), and familiar with Arabic and French. His concentration in his doctoral research was on Phenomenological Insights into Farsi Heritage Language Maintenance Among Second-Generation Iranian Americans. He has been active with Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), TESOL Arabia, Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario Canada (ATIO), National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), Southwest Educational Research Association (SERA), American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the Alliance Language Network. Farrokh has been teaching English literature as an adjunct professor, English Language Art and Reading (ELAR), and writing, English as a second language (ESL), English as a foreign language (EFL) in the United States since 2014.

Soheil Mansouri, Ph.D., teaches Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) courses at Webster University in Missouri, having taught previously at Florida State University. He earned his master's degree in Foreign and Second Language Teaching with the focus on TESL, and his doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction specializing in Foreign and Second Language Education from Florida State University. His research interests include heritage language learning and motivational factors in maintaining a heritage language; specifically, Persian heritage language maintenance, TESL methods, and second language motivation and maintenance. He has also served as a co-director and instructional lead of two fully granted STARTALK Programs, and site visitor and consultant for the STARTALK programs, which focuses on promoting the acquisition of critical languages in the United States. Dr. Mansouri has more than 15 years of teaching experience between the United States and Iran, including EFL instruction in elementary schools, ESL adult instruction at the university level, and TESL courses for both pre-service and in-service teachers seeking TESOL certification.


Marjan Rezvani founded FarsiSpeakingKids, an organization dedicated to promoting Farsi language and culture among children in the Washington DC area. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Marjan developed a profound appreciation for her Iranian heritage from an early age. After relocating to the United States, she recognized the importance of fostering a connection to Farsi language and Iranian culture among Iranian-American children. Through FarsiSpeakingKids, Marjan actively collaborates with local schools, community centers, and cultural organizations to create a comprehensive network of support for heritage language learners. She is dedicated to ensuring that children in the Washington DC area have access to enriching cultural experiences that help them develop a strong connection to their heritage and community. Marjan has successfully organized a wide range of engaging and educational activities tailored specifically to Iranian children. These activities include language classes, storytelling sessions, arts and crafts workshops, traditional music and dance performances, and festive celebrations of Iranian holidays. She teaches French at a Fairfax County Public School in Virginia and has been a teacher for the last 20 years. She holds a Master of Arts in French literature.

Fatemeh Towhidi is an assistant professor at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) Foreign Language Center. She has been working in the education field for the past 30 years in different countries including Iran, China, and the U.S. Her passion lies with language teaching and curriculum development, instructional design, and linguistics. She earned her first Master's degree in Linguistics from Iran, which led to directing teacher training programs for English language schools. Her second Master's degree is from George Mason University in Curriculum and Instruction, with a specialty in integrating technology into schools. She developed Persian-Farsi language curriculum for these programs: SOFTS (Special Operations Forces Teletraining System), SOCOM (U.S. Special Operation Commands), Headstart, and GLOSS, as well as Persian-Farsi language textbooks. Her third Master's degree is an MBA in Global Affairs, with research on Cyberschools and a virtual language learning focus. She has also been e-interning with the Virtual Student Federal Service, U.S. Department of State for the past 5 years, translating and analyzing articles from Persian-Farsi to English, and providing training to instructors for e-courses. She speaks Persian-Farsi, Dari, some Arabic, Chinese, Tajik, and Azari. Her goal is to connect heritage language speakers of diverse languages with native and second language speakers through language studies, technology, distance learning, and culture-language programs. Currently, she is working on her fourth Master's degree in cybersecurity at Bay Atlantic University in Washington, DC, and continuing to work on her PhD program in Education. She is also helping families and community schools with interpreting and translation services and with learning to work with new educational tools during this time of distance learning. She presented her recent paper, "Project-Based Learning: Alternatives to Study Abroad," at the National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC) 2020 Project-based Learning Summit and a paper on Linguistic Landscapes at the 2020 LEARN Summit.

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2019