The Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc., or SHAI, announced the election of its 2017-18 Board of Trustees last week, with new members joining the board and Rebecca Yousefzadeh Sassouni being elected the group’s president.
There are 29 members on the Board of Trustees, five vice presidents, a treasurer, secretary, educational affairs coordinator, a senior affairs coordinator and a president, some of whom were previous presidents of the organization.
David Pour, the secretary of SHAI, said that the specific positions of people were not listed on their press release because it could “detract from the nature of the announcement,” which highlights the role of SHAI and notes each of its members as equals.
“We have a very large reach throughout New York and, as I said, the beauty is that everybody’s volunteering their time and energy,” Pour said. “Everybody does [this] really from their heart and like every other organization, people are concentrated in different areas and everybody pushes forward.”
Sassouni, a trustee on the Great Neck Board of Education who also served as a vice president for SHAI, said she was honored to be elected as the not-for-profit group’s president.
“I believe that SHAI is doing great and if I can just steward it into the next term, I am honored to do it,” Sassouni said.
“The mission is SHAI’s – it’s not any one person’s,” Sassouni added, noting that the group is not trying to draw attention to anyone in particular. “We’re not looking to say this person does more or less than anyone else. It’s a very cohesive group.”
Sassouni also noted that Pargol Khadavi was elected the group’s liaison for educational matters, so any matters regarding schools will be directed to Khadavi.
Parvaneh Khodadian is the senior affairs coordinator with the Town of North Hempstead’s Senior Center.
SHAI was founded 26 years ago to support the assimilation of Iranian-American Jews while retaining their heritage in New York, according to its website.
Now the organization has over 1,200 members and partnerships with many Great Neck-based organizations like the schools, the park district, libraries and Great Neck Social Center, as well as the Town of North Hempstead, which manages the social center.
SHAI has also offered more than $2.2 million in need-based grants to more than 1,000 people and given Awards of Merit to local students during its biannual Dinner Gala, with the next being in March 2018.