Yesterday, today, tomorrow…
On a sunny pleasant weekend day of Southern California in the Autumn of 1986 a dozen recent university graduates of Iranian-American professionals gathered in an Orange County public park playing volleyball and exchanging casual ideas for possibilities of setting up a nonprofit organization to promote Persian Community, with no political and religion affiliation.
These casual brain storming gatherings continued and evolved to nightly weekly meetings usually at the office of Computer Research Center (CRC}, next to OC Airport, belonging to two engineer brothers, Yousef and Kazem Alinaghian, who after 30 years still are active Board members of NIPOC, Network of Iranian-American Professionals of Orange County., (please see the founding members in the NIPOC website.)
By the spring of 1987, NIPOC began accepting members through applications, prepared and presented its first constitution and bylaws and started its regular monthly general meetings on the first Thursdays of each month, the tradition that still, more or less, is being practiced.
Members were requested to complete the membership application and every MEMBERS HAD TO CHOOSE & MAKE COMMITMENTS TO JOIN AND BECOME ACTIVE IN ONE OF THESE THREE COMMITTEES: BUSINESS, SOCIAL AND CAREER. In other words, the main philosophy of the original organizers was of only recruiting active members and try to avoid as it is said in Farsi “Seeyahi-e Lashgar”.
NIPOC Committees used to hold at least a couple meetings per months discussing business ventures, social and cultural events, or helping the Iranian professionals of the Southern California finding a suitable job.
For the first few months of the NIPOC’ s operation, the informal gatherings were held in Huffs Hot Café of Irvine, in a Happy Hour style with some intimate dinning & wining, by forty- fifty members and their guests. In each session, first everybody would introduce himself/herself and his/her educational/professional background, exactly as it has been practiced by most business networking groups. Then, there was a 20 or so minutes presentation by a business speaker or speaker on general topic of common interest for the Persian community by key members.
Through the next few months, NIPOC expanded very rapidly both in quality and quantity. By September 87, NIPOC was formally incorporated as nonprofit nonpartisan organization with no religion affiliation, with elected Board of Directors, who among themselves appointed President, vice president, treasurer and secretary, as well as the Committee coordinators.
Soon NIPOC become a respectful serious networking group and attracted a few hundred members and guest supporters.in each of its monthly general gatherings, held on the first Thursday evenings of every month in OC Airport Hilton or other big hotels in the vicinity of Orange County Airport., with prominent Iranian scholars, poets and scientists’ participation as guest speakers.
By early 1990’s NIPOC grew to become a very well-known and respected networking organization with, by far, the largest membership numbers among the nonpolitical Iranian-American organization in Southern California.
It is very difficult to list all of the outstanding personalities who have made presentations in the monthly general gatherings of NIPOC during the past 30 years.
However, if we were to CHOOSE one to be the most outstanding and loyal devoted speaker, amongst the hundreds well-seasoned scholars, who made presentations at the NIPOC monthly meetings, by far and undoubtedly would be the late Dr. ESMAIL ADIBI, who unfortunately passed away recently and we are still grieving his death. His legacy remains forever with us.
Professor Adibi of Chapman University continued to make uninterrupted ANNUAL ECONOMIC FORECASTS for the past 27 YEARS. As most of you NIPOCIANS have observed, Adibi miraculously used to transform the dry boring economic issues to joyful pleasant show by skillfully combining facts and figures into entertaining programs. Audience of all walks of life, young and old from both sides of social & economic spectrum of our community enjoyed is presentation, and every year were looked forward to Alibi’s New Year economic forecasting.
An example: At the conclusion of his 2015 and 2016 forty minutes presentations, he joked about his aging physical appearance by this comparison: “economy is entering into recession like my recessing forehead hairline, inflation expanding as my enlarged stomach, and depression as my dropping facial expression.”
In addition to the monthly educational, informative and entertaining sessions, NIPOC rendered several services to its members and Persian community at large through to its three committees. Business Committee provided various workshops to help to start as well as improve and expand their business operations. As the matter of fact the first approach of the above described the late Dr. Adibi’s to NIPOC, was through his presentation to the real estate brokers and agents, then an active subgroup of NIPOC.
Career Committee helped to locate proper jobs as well prepare the Iranian professionals to apply for positions such as writing resume and training them for the job interviews etc.
The main functions of the NIPOC Social Committee were to plan and implement celebrations of Iranian cultural and traditional events such as SHAB-E YALDA, NOROOZ, AND SEEZDE BEDAR. And of course the huge celebration of the below descried Mehregan Festivity.
MEHREGAN, despite of its very essential part of the ancient Persian history, had become almost a forgotten custom inside and outside Iran for centuries. It was NIPOC, initiated by Dr. Farrokh Shokooh, a Founding member, who revived this next, to Norooz, the most important ancient Persian Celebration of victory of light over darkness and the Harvest Festival, rooted into ancient Mithraism ritual.
These two day festivities in Orange County, California, evolved to become a huge festival of music, exhibition, food and entertainment with over five hundred-thousand-dollar budget and a collaboration of about a couple hundred interested volunteers with some six, seven months advance preparation visited by some twenty thousand enthusiastic people of various nationalities.
This unique two day cultural events presenting variety of live converts, art exhibitions, demonstrating traditional Persian festivities, held in mid-October in Orange County California every year attracted some twenty thousand spectators from all over all over the United States.
It is interesting the observe that the news of the success in reviving Mehregan celebration by NIPOC, soon was spread throughout the world namely inside and outside of Iran, encouraging other Persian communities to follow NIPOC foot-steps.
NIPOC’s summer Trade Shows were other popular successful events in which many companies promoted their products and services by renting booths and tables.
In addition to membership dues, Mehregan and trade shows revenues covered large portion of NIPOC annual expenses.
Due to several unexpected and unpredictable events and incidents such as deep economic recession of 2009, technological changes in networking and marketing tools such as the appearance and expansion of social media, illness and relocation of several active NIPOC officers, we do to regret that there was a period slowdown in NIPOC activities in recent years.
However, we are very pleased to witness a rejuvenation and reconstruction in the management and leadership in NIPOC because of a new fresh blood injection into vein of the organization.
Very recently about a dozen of loyal & devoted young well educated individuals have joined NIPOC, assuming vital responsibilities some serving in the Board of Directors.
This recent renewed direction with the planned activities gives us confidence of realization of NIPOC Founders original dream of bringing SYNERGY in promoting the Iranian community to its highest deserved potential level in the United States.
Written by Dr. Ahmad Mesbah, one of the founders of NIPOC.