INDIANAPOLIS—Pardis Mahdavi, president of the University of La Verne, a private, nonprofit Hispanic-serving institution in the Los Angeles area, has joined Lumina Foundation’s Board of Directors, which concluded its spring meeting today.

Before joining La Verne last year as president, Mahdavi was provost and executive vice president at the University of Montana, a dean at Arizona State University and the University of Denver, and in various roles at Pomona College.

Lumina Foundation Board Member Pardis Mahdavi

Her journey as an Iranian-American woman growing up in the United States and her anthropology training has informed her research, which centers on diversity and inclusion, human trafficking and migration, sexuality and feminism, human rights, and public health.

“Pardis’ background and unwavering dedication to education will invigorate our efforts to create opportunity for today’s college students,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “Her experiences position her to contribute fresh perspectives that align with our shared commitment to democracy, diversity, and service.”

Mahdavi has written six books, including Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror (2023) and Passionate Uprisings: Iran’s Sexual Revolution (2008).

She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and she has been a fellow at the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, Google Jigsaw, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Mahdavi holds a doctorate of philosophy in anthropology and a master’s in sociomedical sciences and anthropology from Columbia University, as well as a master’s in international affairs. She earned a bachelor’s in diplomacy and world affairs from Occidental College.

Mahdavi joins Teresa Lubbers, president of Sagamore Institute and former leader of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, as a new member of Lumina’s board, serving a four-year term.

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