On Wednesday, March 19 2008, President George W. Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush hosted the first ever Nowruz celebration at The White House. Guests at this event represented people of many cultures who recognize and celebrate Nowruz around the world. Among the guests were then newly arrived Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Erlan Idrissov accompanied by his wife Nurilla, as well as the highest ranking Iranian American in the United States Government, The Honorable Bijan R. Kian and his wife Gissou. Ambassador Idrissov and Director Kian talked about the formation of a multi ethnic commission with representation from all countries who recognize and celebrate Nowruz. The purpose of the Commission was to keep this time tested, revered, universal tradition alive and to educate the greater communities in the United States about the significance of Nowruz and the Spirit of Spring.
Our Vision: To help cause a positive and measurable change in the lives of the people of Nowruz countries, their health, their education, their environment and their degree of care about people all over the world.
Two years later on January 26, 2010 Ambassador Idrissov and The Honorable Bijan Kian together with Mr. Nasser Kazeminy, chairman of the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations at Ellis Island co-founded The Nowruz Commission. Gissou volunteered to lead the effort to organize the Commission. She immediately challenged herself by setting a seemingly impossible task: parallel to organizing the Commission, plan and execute an inauguration before the the arrival of the First Day of Spring. Nowruz was only fifty days away!
Gissou reached out to Anousheh Ansari, a leader in the business community and a unique Iranian American Space Ambassador. Next, she reached out to Robert Babayi, a capable and accomplished Iranian American lawyer and together, they formed the initial board of the Commission. Nasser Kazeminy led the organization as its founding Chairman, Robert became the General Counsel, and Gissou and Anousheh served as board members. The board appointed Gissou as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission.
The miracle of Spring helped Gissou and her friends make it happen in less than two months! Nowruz Commission held its inaugural event at the Thomas Jefferson building of Library of Congress on March 17th, 2010!
The Honorable Congressmen Ed Royce and Howard Berman of California served as Honorary Co-Chairmen of the event. Eight countries and their Ambassadors, The Honorable Congressmen Mike Honda, Brad Sherman and Dan Burton joined Nasser Kazeminy, the Honorable Bijan Kian and Space Ambassador Anousheh Ansari as the host committee. Anousheh Ansari, a distinguished Iranian American Cosmonaut and a global Space Ambassdor chaired the finance committee. Hamid Ansari, Bita Daryabari, Dr. Reza Malek, Dr. Ahmad Karimi Hakkak and his wife Nasrin, Tina and Hamid Moghaddam, Esi Nabi and his wife Leila Forouhar, Fereydoon Nazem, Ali and Anousheh Razi, Mehrdad Azizi, Dr. JoEllen Chatham, Mehran Etemad, Sam and Betty Kermanian, Alex Lari, Alireza Morovati, Francis Najafi, and Nooshin Noshirvani served as Honorary Nowruz Ambassadors, a permanent title conferred by the Commission to the first group who supported the inaugural event of the Commission in 2010.
On the inaugural night, 450 guests gathered in the Coolidge auditorium of the Library of Congress to witness a spectacular performance by Leila Forouhar and her band of musicians from various countries. Kamran Khavarani, a master artist and the father of a new style in painting called “Abstract Romanticism” by professor Albert Boime of UCLA, presented his “Bird of Freedom” painting to the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. Dr. James Billington, The Librarian of Congress, accepted the gift on behalf of the Library and the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. Dr. Mary Jane Deeb, Director of Africa and Middle East Division and her able assistant, Dr. Chris Murphy, lent a tremendously valuable hand in making the inaugural event a success.
At the first meeting of the board of directors of the Commission, which was also held at the historical building at the Library of Congress, Dr. Chris Murphy said to Gissou: “What you have accomplished in fifty days is unbelievable.” Everyone knew that without the incredible help and cooperation from the Library of Congress, the Commission would have not been able to celebrate its first Nowruz in such short order.
On September 8th, 2010, the Commission established its Advisory Council. Mr. Jim Clifton, Chairman of Gallup, became its first chairman. Sir Eldon Griffiths, former member of the British Parliament became the first member of the Council. Other distinguished leaders from Nowruz communities have since joined the Council as new members.
In addition to celebrating Nowruz every year in Washington, the Commission aims to celebrate with other organizations through specific programs to promote the humanitarian goals of its charter. Nowruz Commission aims at enriching the lives of the people of its member communities by promoting volunteerism, active giving, and ameliorating quality of life around the globe.
To revive the togetherness of all cultures who first celebrated Nowruz in the beginning. To promote and preserve not only the physical significance of Nowruz as a universal new year, but also its philosophical significance of renewal of the bonds of friendship, care and compassion around the world.
To help cause a positive and measurable change in the lives of the people of Nowruz countries, their health, their education, their environment and their degree of care about people all over the world.