Speaker’s Bureau

Members of the AIFC Speakers Bureau are available to speak about Iran and Iranians at schools, libraries, faith-based centers, and similar locations.

1)Iran: Exploring Myths, Revealing Realities
Catherine Thomasson

Dr. Catherine Thomasson, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, visited Iran in March 2007 as part of a peace delegation sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She attended meetings with Iranian religious, educational and political leaders. Her presentation addresses common misconceptions held in the U.S. about Iran and the current impasse over security and Iran’s nuclear program.

2) Return to Iran

Is Iran our friend or foe? How do Iranians feel about their leaders and their government’s foreign policy?

Mike and Jackie Spurlock traveled to Iran in June 2006. For 2 ½ weeks they toured the country, meeting people from all walks of life, and visiting ancient and modern sites, mosques, parks, and libraries. The trip was a return visit for them; they lived in Iran from 1974-1978, having gone there as teachers with the Peace Corps. The experience sparked a lifelong interest in this complex, beautiful, and fascinating land.

They present a slideshow of their recent trip and share their observations from both experiences, with opportunities for group discussion. What are the historical reasons for our disagreements with Iran? Are there peaceful solutions?

Mike and Jackie Spurlock are Portland residents. Jackie is a librarian in southwest Washington, and Mike is employed by the City of Portland. They served in the Peace Corps in Iran from 1974 to 1976, and continued living and working in Iran until 1978. In the Peace Corps they lived in small towns and were teachers in the public schools. Later they lived in the city of Esfahan. Iran has remained in their hearts through the decades of turmoil that followed their departure. In June 2006, they returned to Iran for a 2 ½ week tour with Global Exchange. On the trip, they made many new friends and were able to locate old friends with whom they had lost touch. They have two grown sons, one of whom was born in Iran.

3) Iran – Seeing Complexities and Diversity beyond the ‘Enemy’ Construct
Gabriele Ross
Gabriele Ross has worked as Counselor, Diversity Trainer and Homeless Coordinator for Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, WA for the past ten years. Prior to that she worked for Seattle Public Schools and in battered women’s shelters. She came to the US in the 80s as a volunteer for Action Reconciliation/Services for Peace, a German organization founded by survivors of the Nazi regime. As a returning student, she received a BA and Certificate in Middle East Studies at PSU, and a Masters Degree in Conflict Resolution with a thesis on responding to the enmification of Muslims and/or people from the Middle East in post 9/11 USA. She has developed curricula and presentations on that topic with particular emphasis on media literacy.

Gabriele travelled to Iran in July of 2007 with a Citizen Diplomacy tour of Global Exchange.  Her observations of that trip were published nationally and make a very informative presentation for interested communities.  She volunteers as a programmer with KBOO 90.7 FM Community Radio and with several Iranian and immigrant rights organizations in Portland, OR, where she lives.

4) Contemporary Iran through the Eyes of an Iranian
Goudarz Eghtedari
A life-long activist on behalf of human rights in Iran, Dr. Goudarz Eghtedari has found it necessary to re-focus his attention towards avoiding a military confrontation between the United States and Iran. He left Iran after the Iran/Iraq war (1980-1988), of which he is a veteran.

Goudarz is a neighborhood activist and on the board of directors of the Southeast Uplift Coalition. Dr. Eghtedari also serves on the City of Portland's Development Review Advisory Committee and the Sustainable Development Code Technical Advisory Group.

He is a writer and political analyst and producer of “Voices of the Middle East” at KBOO 90.7 FM. Goudarz holds a PhD in Transportation Systems Science from Portland State University and works as an engineering Manager for the City of Vancouver, WA. He resides in Portland, OR.

5) Iran is our adopted home

Ann and Bruce Huntwork went to Iran initially from 1958-63 and 1967-72 to work in Presbyterian Church supported medical programs, primarily in Mashhad – spending the last two years in Jondi Shapur University Medical School in Ahvaz. Ann taught medical and nursing history and ethics, worked in the English medical library and supported hospital social workers. After the revolution they returned to Iran on other assignments sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee and the Iranian Red Crescent Society. Ann and her husband (a physician) have four children who were born in Iran, and consider Iran their other home. All the kids have Iranian middle names. Most recently they returned to Iran in 2002 to assist with refugees from Afghanistan. Both are life-long peace and justice activists.

Submitted by Admin on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 4:19pm.