Lailee McNair Bakhtiar (formerly van Dillen; née McNair) is an American poet, novelist, lecturer
Lailee McNair Bakhtiar's latest book of poetry, City Dock Poetry (2014), followed her nonfiction book Afghanistan's Blue Treasure Lapis Lazuli (2011) and her latest novel, They Shake the Desert Sands (2010). Her novel, Harem Letters, was awarded "Winner 1998 Book Award" by the California Media Professionals Former host of "Authors and Critics" (as Lailee Bakhtiar van Dillen) a television series on PBS, Bakhtiar was born in Washington, D.C. She spoke at The Gulf and The Globe Conference at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Bakhtiar spoke at the United Nations at the 2000 UNESCO conference about her month-long camping expedition to the Zagros Mountains in October 2000. In October 2000, she went to Iran to camp with the Bakhtiar tribe for one month in the Zagros Mountains. The themes of East and West are prominent in her works.
Lailee McNair Bakhtiar's poetry book, Chai, was selected for the library archives of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. "The Roses of Isfahan" both collected short stories and poetry was a 1998 National Press Club Selection in Washington, D.C. "Mending Nations" poetry received 1st prize in the Capital Press Women awards of 2001. In 2014 her poem, "World Widow" received 1st prize from the National Federation of Press Women, Capitol.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BA French and of the Notre Dame University de Namur in Belmont, California with a Masters in Teaching, MAT French, Lailee recently was honored by the President of the Notre Dame de Namur University for her body of work.
Born Lailee McNair to Frederick Vallette McNair, III and Parveen Bakhtiar in 1951, she began her community service as Miss 16 of Washington, D.C. in 1966. Upon graduation from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland in 1969, she attended a summer school program in Reading, England which was designed for students from many regional schools in the East Coast to study Shakespeare, French, English History and other subjects while in the country with "Corolla in England". At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lailee became well known as a cheerleader, and a "Sweet Caroline" doing service work for the university under the auspices of the football department and Head Coach Bill Dooley. She was the first former cheerleader allowed in the "Press Box" at the University of North Carolina Tar Heels Basketball games under Head Coach Dean Smith.
After UNC Chapel Hill, NC. Lailee moved to New York City where she was a flight attendant for Pan Am Airlines in 1973. Married in 1974 to tennis pro and Davis Cup player Erik van Dillen, she began a nine-year travel journey on the men's professional tennis tour around the world to the Grand Prix tournaments. She wrote articles on tennis stars Chris Event, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and others in Tennis World Magazine in England where she was a contributing editor. She wrote 50 articles for tennis magazines around the world including for "Tennis" in the United States. "The Day I Stepped Into My Husband's Sneakers" spoke about her playing in the French Open Qualifying event for women in 1978.
Following the tennis tour, Lailee and Erik van Dillen had three children in California: Vincent van Dillen, Soraya van Dillen and Hague van Dillen. In 2000 Lailee returned to the East Coast following her divorce and currently resides in Annapolis Maryland where she completed two years of work with the C.S. Lewis Institute Fellows Program in Christian discipleship, completed 10 years of teaching as a civilian volunteer for the United States Naval Academy Protestant Sunday school program and as a French tutor for Annapolis Area Chritian School in 2013.
Presently she received in 2014 an award from the National Federation of Press Women, Capital, for her video, "Summit Journey". She tutors in SAT Prep for Annapolis and regional high school students.
- U.S. Naval Academy website, usna.edu; accessed March 28, 2015.
- "Making It Happen: Women and the Culture of Peace" (UNESCO/World Peace), un.org, February 25, 2000.
- Profile, iranian.com, April 1998; accessed March 28, 2015.
- Profile, SFSU Public Affairs Press Release; accessed March 28, 2015.