Mariam Memarsadeghi

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Mariam Memarsadeghi
Born (1972-02-14) February 14, 1972 (age 47)
Tehran, Iran
Known forDemocracy and human rights advocacy
Scientific career
InstitutionsTavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society

Mariam Memarsadeghi (Persian: مریم معمارصادقی ) is an Iranian-American democracy and human rights advocate who is co-founder and co-director of Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Mariam Memarsadeghi was born in Tehran, Iran and lived there until the 1979 revolution, when she emigrated to the United States with her parents. Memarsadeghi attended Frederick High School in Frederick, Maryland, where she earned the Principal's Award for good character and scholarship and served as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. She earned her BA degree in political science in 1994 from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. While at Dickinson, Memarsadeghi spent an academic year studying European history and politics in Bologna, Italy. Upon graduating, she enrolled in a PhD program in political theory at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst but left the program in 1997 with an MA degree.


Memarsadeghi created the Tavaana E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society in 2010. Tavaana is a project of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education, a 501c3 nonprofit organization co-founded by Memarsadeghi and based in Bethesda, MD.

Tavaana is Iran's pioneer elearning institution, building the capacity of Iranian civil society and Iranian educators with secure, virtual civic education on censored topics such as democracy, women's rights, Islamic reformation, secularism and religious freedom, labor organizing, NGO management, advocacy and activism. Tavaana's spin-off TavaanaTech service provides Iranians with timely, reliable guidance on technology, including free and safe Internet access and digital safety. Tavaana and TavaanaTech's robust social networks and satellite broadcasts of educational programming reach millions of Iranians.

Tavaana was launched with a 2009 seed grant from the US Department of State's Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Google has supported the Tavaana and TavaanaTech projects. Other donors have included NEA/AC at the US Department of State, USAID, Internews, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Endowment for Democracy. Partner institutions include the Center for Civic Education, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Albert Shanker Institute.

The Tolerance Project is another initiative conceived by Memarsadeghi. This Arabic, Persian, English educational venture works to inspire conscience, pluralism and celebration of difference throughout the Middle East region.

Memarsadeghi is an outspoken advocate for liberalism, civic responsibility, women's rights, civil liberties, and Internet freedom, particularly in Islamic contexts. She previously directed the Middle East and North Africa portfolio of programs at Freedom House, and worked for over two years in the Balkan region for the International Rescue Committee and the International Organization for Migration.

Media commentary[edit]

Memarsadeghi provides media commentary on issues such as democratic transition, women's rights, civil society, civic education, Middle East politics, internet freedom, and social media. She has participated in several NPR programs, the PBS NewsHour[2] and To the Contrary. She has also appeared on Persian and Arabic language radio and television programs and is frequently interviewed about Iranian politics in both English and Persian.

Her writing has been published in journals and in newspapers including The Wall Street Journal,[3] The Washington Post,[4] and The Globe and Mail.[5]

Public speaking[edit]

Memarsadeghi has spoken on issues related to democracy at universities around the world and research institutions such as the Henry Jackson Society, American Enterprise Institute,[6] Aspen Institute, Council for Community of Democracies,[7] Council of Europe,[8] Freedom House, Legatum Institute, Project on Middle East Democracy, Silicon Valley RightsCon, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.,[9] the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Ditchley Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

She has delivered a talk at the UK Parliament and moderated Persian language discussions at Tavaana and delivered public talks in Persian language, such as at the Conference of the Association of Friends of Persian Culture, an annual gathering of over 3,000 organized by Iranian Baha'is in Chicago.[10]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Memarsadeghi was a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar.

Memarsadeghi was selected in 2007 as a "Transatlantic Young Leader" by the German Marshall Fund and the Bertelsmann Foundation.

She serves as a finalist judge in the annual We the People competition, a nationwide contest on democratic knowledge and the US Constitution among American high school students. The competition is organized by the Center for Civic Education.[11]


  1. ^ "Mariam Memarsadeghi". Iranian American Women Foundation. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Iraqi Constitution Struggle". PBS NewsHour. 22 August 2005.
  3. ^ Memarsadeghi, Mariam; Atri, Akbar (3 November 2009). "The President Snubs Iran's Democrat". The Wall Street Journal.
  4. ^ Memarsadeghi, Mariam; Atri, Akbar (16 May 2009). "Iran Issue No. 1". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Memarsadeghi, Mariam; Melia, Thomas O. (16 June 2005). "Iran's election is a fraud". The Globe and Mail.
  6. ^ "Markers of Reform in the Middle East". American Enterprise Institute. AEI. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Council for a Community of Democracies". Council for a Community of Democracies. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Culture and Cultural Heritage" (PDF). World Forum for Democracy 2013 Program. Council of Europe. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Social Media and Social Activism: The cases of Brazil, Iran and Mexico". Wilson Center. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  10. ^ FOPCAtalks (2015-09-25), Mariam Memarsadeghi-Tavaana مریم معمارصادقی: آموزشکدۀ توانا, retrieved 2019-07-03
  11. ^ "Judges". We the People. Center for Civic Education. Retrieved 30 September 2014.

External links[edit]