Episode 12: Arezoo Riahi

It’s a much different world out there, not everyone has it as easy as we do. Being aware of the great fortune that we have living in this country, the freedoms that come with it, allow me to get through each day with gratitude as opposed to worrying about the small things that don’t really matter. It requires strength— it requires you to think through it, to be on your feet, and to be able to take care of yourself.

"If I don't take care of myself, nothing I do will be as good as it can be."

Arezoo Riahi, Director TechWomen, IIE,
on creating impact and building a community of 350 global women

Arezoo Riahi knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence.  As a first generation American Iranian woman, she is all too familiar with the struggles of being labeled “different”.  As a leader in international mentorship and exchange, she has personally witnessed the many struggles that women from developing countries have to face in their professional careers. 

Arezoo Riahi serves as Director of TechWomen, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State adminstered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).  Arezoo’s work emphasizes women leadership and harnesses the power of technology to promote social empowerment and positive change.  Through her extensive work with over 350 women from 19 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, Arezoo is a catalyst to making change agents in the developing world. 

Arezoo has led cultural delegation trips to countries like Zimbabwe, Jordan, South Africa, Tunisia and Kazakhstan- she has a greater understanding of the world and of herself that most of us do not have.  Arezoo has a level of wisdom beyond her years.

Podcast Details

Find out from the podcast how Arezoo:

  • Helps to create mutual understanding for women around the world through soft power diplomacy and TechWomen
  • Came to embrace her Iranian roots as a teenager in a predominately homogenous Chicago suburb and how she became comfortable in her skin
  • Demystifies what is means to be Persian vs. Iranian as a first generation American Iranian woman
  • Spent one summer in Morocco and the impact it had on her outlook of the world
  • Describes the importance of politics and global policy in her life and the American Iranian diaspora
  • Responds to stereotypes of the “oppressed chador” Iranian women versus the media portrayal of Iranian women in the hit reality show “Shahs of Sunset”, and how she identifies the true identity of Iranian woman
  • Links her professional success to the success of the 350 global women who are a part of the TechWomen program and links her personal success to being able to get through problems with grace
  • Took her biggest failure and turned it to become more introspective, to take responsibility, to course correct, and to iterate
  • Practices daily self-care routines to keep her body and mind healthy
  • Recommends the one most important skill for all women to know in order to achieve professional success
  • Sees her next dream job and the parting confessions she shares

One of Arezoo's favorite quotes is Ernest Hemingway's,  "It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end”.  Arezoo embodies these words.  You don't want to miss hearing about her journey!

About Arezoo

Arezoo Riahi is a leader in international mentorship, exchange, and scholarship programming, having led international program activities for nearly eight years at the Institute of International Education (IIE).  Currently, Arezoo serves as Director of TechWomen, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State implemented by IIE, which bring together emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from across the globe with their counterparts in the Bay Area.  Arezoo’s work emphasizes women’s leadership and harnesses the power of technology to promote social empowerment and positive change, particularly in the developing world. She studied international affairs at The George Washington University and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy. 

nterested in learning more about the TechWomen program? Check us at out at www.techwomen.org and on twitter at @techwomen – and feel free to contact us at Techwomen@iie.org with any questions you may have!