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December 31, 2023

Press Releases

NUFDI’s 2023 End of Year Report

December 31, 2023

Press Releases

NUFDI’s 2023 End of Year Report

Saeed Ganji, Ph.D., Sc.D.

PRESIDENT

Dear Members, Supporters, and Friends of NUFDI,

As we close another year, it is with great pride that I present to you NUFDI’s 2023 Executive Summary and performance report. This document encapsulates the hard work, dedication, and impactful achievements of our team in various areas, reflecting our unwavering commitment to the Iranian-American community and our mission of advocating for democracy and human rights in Iran.


This year, we have seen remarkable strides in several key areas:

  • Maximum Support Initiative: NUFDI published its first and major policy report, Maximum Support. This comprehensive, 15-point plan developed with diverse collaborators, offers a new, strategic direction and blueprint for U.S.-Iran policy by shifting the focus to empowering the Iranian people. 
  • Human Rights Report: NUFDI published “Hiding in the Shadows: Exposing Human Rights Violators in the 2022 Iranian Revolution” in response to the 2022 national uprising in Iran. In the report, shared with Congress, the Treasury and State Departments, and the United Nations, we identified and documented Islamic Republic officials involved in human rights violations.
  • Blossoms of Bravery Exhibit: NUFDI put together a two-day exhibit, in the House and Senate, telling the personal stories of Iran’s freedom fighters and those murdered by the Islamic Republic. Several members of Congress attended and spoke at the exhibit. 
  • Hostage-Taking Report: NUFDI published “Breaking the Trend: How to Combat the Hostage-Taking Business in Iran”, an extensive report that has provided innovative policy recommendations to combat this long-standing threat. 
  • The Iran Conference: The annual Iran Conference has expanded significantly, adding a second day and becoming Washington’s premier forum for discussing Iran’s future and policy directions.
  • Social Media: The growth of NUFDI’s presence on X (Twitter) and Instagram has been significant, enhancing our reach and engagement with Iranian-Americans and the global community.
  • Engagement with Government and Congress: NUFDI has played a critical role in advocating for important legislative initiatives and educating members of Congress, including on oil sanctions and the MAHSA Act.
  • Staff Growth: Our expanding team is a testament to our growing influence and capabilities, with new full-time roles and internships adding to our strength. 
  • Content Production: NUFDI has successfully contributed to and helped shift the global discourse on Iran through expanding content production, media engagements, and collaborations. 
  • Community Engagement: NUFDI has expanded its presence among the Iranian-American community, which has been pivotal in shaping our approach and ensuring effective representation of Iranian-Americans’ interests. 

As we reflect on these accomplishments, I extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported us in this journey. Your trust and support have been the cornerstone of our success. We look forward to your continued support as we move into another year of advocacy action. 

With warm regards,
Saeed Ganji, President

 


Maximum Support

In March 2023, NUFDI made a significant advancement in U.S.-Iran policy with the introduction of Maximum Support. This 15-point plan, developed through extensive collaboration with Iranian-American activists, Washington think tank experts, and Iranian dissidents, represents a paradigm shift, shifting focus to empowering the Iranian people rather than solely addressing the Islamic Republic. The initiative, marked by its innovative policy framework, aims to engage, elevate, and empower the Iranian populace while maintaining economic and diplomatic pressure on the Islamic Republic. The roll-out event for Maximum Support garnered notable attention, drawing lawmakers from Canada, Belgium, and leading D.C. think tanks, highlighting its global relevance and potential impact. The introduction of this policy by NUFDI underscores our commitment to a holistic and forward-thinking U.S.-Iran policy, echoing the deep-rooted desires of the Iranian-American community for meaningful engagement with the Iranian people in their quest for freedom and democracy. 

We don’t simply hope for a better Iran policy. We are developing it.

Human Rights Report

NUFDI engaged in a crucial project to address the egregious human rights violations and bloodshed during the national uprising of 2021. Our policy team undertook the comprehensive initiative “Hiding in the Shadows: Exposing Human Rights Violators in the 2022 Iranian Revolution”, which involved months of meticulous research and the compilation of evidence against over 100 officials at various levels within the Islamic Republic, including judicial, security, and local authorities. These individuals were identified as being directly involved in crimes against humanity since Mahsa Amini’s murder.

Our team’s dedicated efforts resulted in a well-documented report that provides in-depth insights into the actions of these perpetrators during the 2021 bloodshed. This report was presented to various branches of the government including the United States Treasury and Department of State, aiming to ensure that those responsible for these heinous acts are sanctioned and held accountable. This initiative underscores NUFDI’s commitment to human rights advocacy and our dedication to seeking justice for victims of state-sponsored violence in Iran. Our work in this area not only highlights the organization’s capabilities in conducting thorough research but also demonstrates our strategic approach in influencing policy and accountability measures at a governmental level. 

Blossoms of Bravery Exhibit

In a poignant effort to humanize Iran’s freedom fighters and draw the attention of American lawmakers, NUFDI hosted the “Blossoms of Bravery: Remembering Iran’s Fallen Freedom-Fighters” exhibition. This initiative was a creative method of showcasing the resilience of Iranian protesters and honoring the victims of the tragic events following Mahsa Amini’s death in September 2022. The exhibition featured a compelling array of photographs and videos, providing a deeply personal glimpse into the lives of the over 500 young protesters killed, schoolgirls poisoned, and demonstrators blinded since the incident. 

This exhibition successfully garnered widespread attention and support, drawing high-profile members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. Distinguished attendees included Representatives Waltz, Tenney, Wilson, Doggett, among others. These representatives not only visited the exhibition but also gave remarks expressing solidarity with the Iranian people. Their participation underscored the exhibition’s impact in amplifying the voices of the Iranian protesters and victims on an international stage, demonstrating NUFDI’s effectiveness in engaging influential policymakers and raising awareness about critical human rights issues.

Hostage-Taking Report

In the past year, NUFDI’s team dedicated several months to studying and analyzing the troubling pattern of wrongful arbitrary detentions of foreign nationals, known as hostage-taking, by the Islamic Republic in Iran. Our comprehensive report, “Breaking the Trend: How to Combat the Hostage-Taking Business in Iran,” emerged as a pivotal document, offering an in-depth study of this four-decade-long practice. It not only detailed those most at risk and reviewed the history of U.S. responses, but also proposed innovative policy recommendations for the U.S. government to counter this practice.

As a blueprint for tackling this ongoing challenge, the report marked a significant achievement for NUFDI. Our team introduced creative and previously unexplored policy solutions, showcasing our commitment to resolving issues faced by the Iranian-American community and to holding the Iranian regime accountable. The report was presented to U.S. lawmakers and policymakers, highlighting NUFDI’s role as a proactive policy hub.

The Iran Conference

In 2023, NUFDI proudly hosted its second annual Iran Conference, marking a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to foster meaningful dialogue and policy discussions about Iran. Expanding to a two-day event for the first time, the conference has emerged as Washington’s premier Iran policy conference, solidifying our position as a leading forum for Iran-related discussions. We were honored to welcome an array of esteemed participants, including former government officials, renowned think tank experts, insightful analysts and journalists, and dedicated Iranian-American activists.

The Iran Conference featured representatives from more than eight think tanks, five civic organizations, five news outlets, and ten current or former officials, highlighting the breadth and diversity of perspectives brought to the table. 

The Iran Conference serves as a vital platform, uniting influential voices and experts to deliberate on Iran’s future and its policy directions. The insights and solutions offered by our speakers provided our attendees with invaluable perspectives, contributing to a richer, more nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities within Iran and its policy landscape.

Social Media Growth

In 2023, our social media platforms have proven to be a dynamic and vital bridge between NUFDI and our diverse audience, including the Iranian-American community, policymakers, the media, and the general public. Recognizing the crucial role of these platforms in fostering engagement and disseminating quality information, our content creation team is specifically focused on delivering high-quality, Iran-related content.

Our commitment to this goal is reflected in our social media viewership numbers, which reached a total of 3,730,000 accounts across various platforms and more than 6,500,000 impressions. This year, we witnessed remarkable growth in our social media presence: our Instagram account saw a significant increase in followers, achieving a total of 1.7 million impressions with hundreds of thousands of monthly viewers. Our YouTube channel experienced a substantial 47% growth, demonstrating our expanding reach in video content. Additionally, our X (Twitter) presence grew by 35%, reaching 1.35 million in viewership and averaging nearly 112,000 viewers per month.

These statistics not only highlight the successful expansion of our digital footprint but also underscore our deep commitment to maintaining ongoing, meaningful interactions with our audience. Through our dedicated efforts in content creation and community engagement, NUFDI continues to solidify its position as a key source of insightful and relevant information on Iran-related matters.

Engagement with Government and Congress

Entering 2023, a pivotal aspect of NUFDI’s mission was to serve as a resonant voice for the Iranian American community within the policy-making circles of Washington, D.C.. This year, we have made significant strides in actively engaging with members of Congress, effectively advocating for critical pieces of legislation and initiatives. Our efforts have been particularly focused on oil sanctions, the MAHSA Act, and various pro-democracy initiatives, all aimed at strengthening the Iranian people and pressuring the Islamic Republic.

Our commitment to these goals was evidenced by over 95 meetings held with offices of various members of Congress, ranging from the Speaker of the House to ranking members of both parties, particularly those on the Foreign Relations Committee. These meetings have been instrumental in positioning NUFDI as a credible and influential source for Iran policy and advocacy in the United States.

Additionally, our outreach extended to the dissemination of information through six editions of the new ‘Iran Policy Insider’ monthly newsletter. This publication, targeted at congressional staffers and Iran policy experts and analysts, has been a vital tool in providing updates, insights, and context on developing stories and legislation related to Iran. The newsletter ensures that policymakers and their staffers are well-informed and exposed to content that supports the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations and counters the narratives of the Islamic Republic.

NUFDI’s advocacy also included routine engagement with the State Department, meetings with various current and former U.S. officials, and engagement with embassy officials across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Content Production

This year, the NUFDI team has significantly contributed to shaping the international conversation on the democratic movement in Iran. Our multifaceted approach has been instrumental in bringing attention to this crucial issue.

We have achieved considerable success in disseminating our message through various media channels. Our team published seven insightful op-eds in mainstream international outlets, each piece addressing different facets of promoting democracy in Iran. Additionally, we produced nine policy briefs primarily focused on legislation pertaining to Iran and three legislative memos aimed to help educate members of Congress on pending legislation and offer improvements. These briefs and memos were aimed at educating the public about legislative changes that could impact Iran and guiding members of Congress in either supporting or proposing amendments to these bills.

Engagement with the media was another key area of focus. Our team was actively involved in nearly 30 interviews with both English and Persian international media outlets. In these interviews, we consistently advocated for human rights and democracy in Iran, ensuring our voice was heard on a global stage.

Collaboration with think tanks also formed a vital part of our activities. Members of our team participated in panel discussions at various Washington think tanks, including CSIS. These discussions provided a platform for in-depth exploration and dialogue on Iran policy.

Our team’s insights and expertise were also recognized through extensive quotes in several international media outlets like AFP, Barrons, Fox News, Semafor, Free Beacon, and the Jerusalem Post, among others. This widespread media coverage has helped us in reaching a broader audience and underscored our commitment to advocating for human rights and democracy in Iran.

Through these diverse yet interconnected initiatives, NUFDI has vigorously pursued its goal of being a significant voice in the global discourse on democracy in Iran.

Engagement with the Community

As the leading organization for Iranian-Americans in the United States, NUFDI has had a dynamic year of community interaction and advocacy. Our team traveled extensively around the country to cities including New York, Atlanta, Fresno, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Orange County, Richmond, and Chattanooga to listen to the priorities of Iranian-Americans. These interactions have been crucial in shaping our approach to promoting U.S. policies that support democracy in Iran.

In addition to these in-person meetings, we have been actively engaging with the Iranian-American diaspora through social media. Our consistent presence online has not only helped in answering policy-related queries but also in building trust and establishing NUFDI as a key resource for the community. We further extended our outreach through regular participation in Twitter Spaces, hosting Instagram live conversations with policy experts and diaspora leaders, keeping them informed about U.S. policy developments, NUFDI’s positions, and our ongoing activities.

Collaboration has been a significant part of our efforts this year. Our policy team has interacted with other reputable foreign policy think tanks, engaging in over 20 discussions to enhance our support mechanisms and collaborative efforts. Additionally, we have used public platforms, giving speeches at five major events and demonstrations to echo the aspirations of the Iranian people.

Our role as a liaison between Iranian Americans and their lawmakers has been particularly impactful. In addition to the community’s own grassroots efforts, we have arranged and facilitated meetings with members of Congress for activists, dissidents, and Iranian-Americans across the country, helping to voice the community’s concerns at a legislative level.

Throughout the year, NUFDI has been committed to serving as a bridge between lawmakers and the Iranian-American community, ensuring active engagement and effective representation of their interests.

NUFDI’s Growth

As we reflect on the growth and evolution of NUFDI since we relaunched our efforts with a new direction in 2020, one of our most notable achievements has been the significant expansion of our team. This growth is a testament to the trust and support bestowed upon us by the Iranian-American community and the generosity of our donors. Over the past year, we have successfully doubled the size of our staff, a milestone that underscores both our organizational development and the increasing impact of our work.

This expansion includes the addition of key full-time roles to our team: a Creative Director who spearheads our efforts in delivering compelling and influential content, a Senior Analyst who brings in-depth expertise in policy analysis, two Program Associates responsible for enhancing our initiatives. The diversity and expertise of these new team members have significantly bolstered our capacity to achieve our mission.

In addition to our full-time staff, NUFDI has made a strong commitment to nurturing the next generation of community leaders by bringing on four young Iranian-American interns across two semesters. This internship program has been a pivotal part of our strategy, providing invaluable training and experience to these individuals. Through this initiative, we are not just investing in their personal growth but are actively contributing to the development of future leaders for our community.

This staff expansion reflects our dedication to building a robust and dynamic team capable of advancing the goals of the Iranian-American community. It is through the unwavering support of our community and our collective efforts that NUFDI continues to grow and make a lasting impact.

In addition to expanding our team, NUFDI tripled the size of our physical space and moved into brand-new offices on Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Washington, D.C. The new office now includes a fully-functioning media studio that will serve as production headquarters for events, high-profile speakers, and educational videos in the year to come.


2024 Outlook

In the year ahead, NUFDI will continue to expand both our team and our efforts to support the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran by advancing a U.S. policy that supports those aspirations. We look forward to bringing new, young, and engaged Iranian-Americans into the fold as we continue to grow to serve our community and its interests, further. The success that we have achieved this year and the expansion of that success that we are planning for next year are only possible with your continued support. Together, we are changing Washington, D.C. and doing our part for the people of Iran.