Davar Ardalan

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Davar Ardalan
Davar Ardalan (2019).png
Ardalan in 2019
Iran Davar Ardalan

Alma materUniversity of New Mexico, B.A. in communications and journalism
OccupationEntrepreneur, journalist, author
Years active1991-present
Known forMy Name is Iran (book), Tell Me More, Weekend Edition
Spouse(s)John Oliver Smith
FamilyLailee Bakhtiar and Fred McNair (cousins)
Frederick V. McNair Jr. (granduncle)

Iran Davar Ardalan, better known as Davar Ardalan, is a U.S.-based author, journalist, and entrepreneur.[1] Ardalan is the founder and storyteller in chief of IVOW with international experience in storytelling campaigns and social impact projects.[2] She worked at Washington, D.C.-based National Public Radio as a producer and journalist for over 20 years.[3]


Ardalan's career in American media began in 1991 at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[4] A year later, she made the switch to radio as a reporter at KUNM-FM in Albuquerque. She produced award-winning cultural and news stories on health and environmental concerns in Los Alamos for which she won first place in documentaries from the Associated Press in New Mexico.[4]


Ardalan joined NPR in 1993.[3] She began as a temporary production assistant in July 1993 and a year later moved to a full-time production assistant position at Weekend Edition Sunday. In the Spring of 1995 and again in 1997 she produced with NPR's Jacki Lyden in-depth reports on Iran examining the re-emergence of criticism and self-expression, Iranian women's struggle to gain rights and the perils facing intellectuals.[citation needed]

Her full name, Iran Davar Ardalan, inspired the 2004 NPR/American Radioworks series, My Name is Iran, tracing her Iranian heritage and her own experiences after the 1979 Islamic revolution.[4][5] The struggle of a nation as reflected in her family's story led to her memoir My Name is Iran published by Henry Holt.[6]

Ardalan left NPR in 2010, but subsequently came back to the organization.[7] Ardalan was the Senior Producer of NPR’s Tell Me More and in 2015, her last position at NPR was senior producer of the Identity and Culture Unit.[8]

Post-NPR Career[edit]

Ardalan left NPR to work at SecondMuse, a digital consulting firm.[7] She then founded IVOW, which stands for Intelligent Voices of Wisdom, and is focused on artificial intelligence and storytelling.[9]

She has authored two books, My Name Is Iran in 2007[6] and The Persian Square in 2013.[10]

Education and personal life[edit]

Ardalan earned a B.A. in communications and journalism from the University of New Mexico. She was born in San Francisco and has also lived and worked in Iran as a television newscaster for IRIB English News.[3][11] Ardalan attended elementary and middle school at Iranzamin International School in Tehran and graduated from Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts.[4]

She is a granddaughter of Aliakbar Khan Davar and is the mother of four, Saied, Samira, Aman, and Amir.[4] Her mother was Laleh Bakhtiar (born Mary Nell Bakhtiar),[6] an author, Quran translator, and clinical psychologist, and Ardalan's cousins are poet/novelist Lailee Bakhtiar McNair and former tennis player Fred McNair, whose mother was Bakhtiar's younger sister Parveen.[12][13] Her granduncle Frederick V. McNair Jr. was a United States Navy officer and a Medal of Honor recipient.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In April 2002, Ardalan and Lyden received a Gracie award from the American Women in Radio and Television for the NPR documentary Loss and Its Aftermath, the story of Israeli and Palestinian parents speaking about the deaths of their children in the conflict.[14][15]

On May 10, 2014, Ardalan was awarded an Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a ceremony in New York City. This honor is awarded to "American citizens who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life."[11]


  1. ^ Ardalan, Davar (July 12, 2017). "Davar Ardalan". UNSSC | United Nations System Staff College. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  2. ^ "Davar Ardalan". Thrive Global. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Davar Ardalan". HuffPost. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Davar Ardalan | U.S. Virtual Embassy Iran". U.S. Virtual Embassy Iran. US Department of State. January 1, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Nunez, Vivian. "From Radio Ambulante To Adonde Media: Why This Latina Is Building A Podcasting Empire". Forbes. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Kakutani, Michiko (January 5, 2007). "A Woman Called Iran, a Refuge Called America". New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Ardalan, Davar (March 5, 2010). "Farewell, NPR Family". NPR.org. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  8. ^ "Personalities for Socially Interactive Bots | mediaX". mediaX at Stanford University. mediaX at Stanford University. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  9. ^ "Artificial Intelligence, Culture & Storytelling Symposium". Morgan State University. Morgan State School of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences. April 23, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "A Multimedia Journey Through 'The Persian Square'". NPR.org. March 4, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "IASNY: Iran Davar Ardalan Received Ellis Island Medal of Honor". IAS New York. Archived from the original on June 2, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  12. ^ Ardalan, Iran Davar (2010). My Name Is Iran: A Memoir. Henry Holt and Company. p. 288.
  13. ^ Ardalan, p. 235.
  14. ^ "Longtime NPR reporter to speak on campus". Bethel College. Bethel College. April 6, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  15. ^ "NPR - Weekend All Things Considered: Loss & Its Aftermath, Arab and Israeli Families". NPR. Retrieved July 28, 2018.