Never Invisible: An Iranian Woman’s Life Across the Twentieth Century

Ladan Lari
Leila Pourhashemi
Tue May 2nd 2023, 6:30 - 8:00pm
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Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies
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Join us for a discussion about Never Invisible: An Iranian Woman’s Life Across the Twentieth Century (Mage Publishers, 2023).

Houri Mostofi Moghadam was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1919, descended on her mother’s side from Iranian royalty and on her father’s from a “God-fearing” family of scholars and government administrators. When she was twenty-two, Houri married Mohsen Moghadam, a young man from a merchant family who went on to become a successful businessman, often traveling abroad, while Houri dedicated herself to teaching, charitable public works, and running international women’s associations in Tehran. Together, they also raised three children, in whom Houri was keen to instill the same spirit of industry and self-discipline she had learned from her own parents.

Houri was among the first women to go to university in Iran, working as a teacher for nearly forty years and diligently continuing with her own education in later life, including traveling to the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar, and, after being forced into exile following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, studying for a PhD at the Sorbonne in Paris. From a privileged social class, with a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle, Houri was a pioneer, nonetheless, and a feminist for her own time. Through her hard work and frequent acts of bravery—from standing up to sinister intruders to dogged persistence in the face of intransigent officialdom—she made sure that, as a woman, she was never overlooked, never invisible, even when hidden under a dark chador at the Revolutionary Court. It was women like Houri who were the precursors of the young women fighting for equal rights and justice in Iran today.

The resulting memoir tells the fascinating story of her life, with all its ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, set against the backdrop of an impending revolution that would topple the world she and her family had always known and turn it upside down.

Houri’s daughter, Ladan Lari, and granddaughter, Leila Pourhashemi, will discuss Houri’s life and work, and the extraordinary commitment Houri’s daughter, Mariam Safinia, undertook to make the publication of this memoir possible.

Dr. Kioumars Ghereghlou and Dr. Abbas Milani will discuss the importance of the Houri Moghadam archival collection at Stanford, her life in historical perspective, and the process of creating and publishing the memoir.

Conversation will be in English and is moderated by Stanford Stein Visiting Writer Laleh Khadivi.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase from the Stanford Bookstore.


Ladan Lari

Ladan Lari, born and raised in Tehran, first came to the US at age 16 to attend college and graduate school before returning home in 1969. She started her career in Iran in research and academia working as a research fellow at the Institute for Science and Higher Education, and later as associate professor at Melli University. Following the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, Ladan managed to finally leave Iran in 1983, along with her two daughters and settled in Marin County. Ladan’s 38-year banking career in the Bay Area has included positions of increased responsibility in Private Banking, Commercial Banking, Commercial Real Estate Lending, Credit Risk Management, and Special Assets, where she restructured the bank’s troubled assets. She has worked at Bank of America, Bank of San Francisco, Citibank, and start-up, Presidio Bank, which was acquired in 2019 by Heritage Bank of Commerce.   She currently serves as Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager, Commercial Banking, in Heritage’s San Francisco Office, managing a portfolio of commercial clients, real estate investors and developers. Ladan holds an MA in Economics from Columbia University and a BA with Departmental Honors and Distinction from Wilson College.

Ladan Lari and Mariam Safinia

Ladan Lari and Mariam Safinia, November 2021 (image courtesy of Ladan Lari)

Leila Pourhashemi

Leila Pourhashemi is the first grandchild of Houri Mostofi Moghadam, and daughter of Mariam Moghadam Safinia. Growing up, she was fortunate to be influenced by three remarkable women: Houri, Mehri Mostofi Safinia (Houri’s older sister) and Mariam. Pourhashemi is currently the Chief Information Officer at Blackhawk Network, where she leverages her role to spur enterprise-wide transformation in Blackhawk’s technology applications. She also serves as Blackhawk’s VP, Technology Business Operations, and focuses on defining Blackhawk’s operating rhythm, managing investments and driving program performance, metrics and increasing operating agility. She formerly served in various leadership roles at eBay Marketplaces, PayPal, Sun Microsystems, Intuit and other prominent brands. She earned her B.A. in applied mathematics from UC Berkeley.

Kioumars Ghereghlou

Kioumars Ghereghlou is the Curator for Middle East collections at Stanford’s Green Library. He oversees the planning, development, processing, acquisition, management, and public service of collections on all aspects of Middle East Studies.  Dr. Ghereghlou selects and acquires a wide range of resources, including traditional scholarly publications (print and digital), special collections and archival materials, and materials published via emerging forms of scholarly communication, in order to support the research and teaching needs of scholars working on Iran, Turkey, and all Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa. He provides advanced reference support and teaches courses.

Abbas Milani

Abbas Milani is the director of the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies at Stanford University, an Adjunct Professor, and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. His expertise is U.S.-Iran relations as well as Iranian cultural, political, and security issues. Milani is the author of numerous books in Persian and English including Modernity and Its Foes in Iran; Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Persian Modernity in Iran; Tales of Two Cities: A Persian Memoir; The Shah; Culture and Politics in Contemporary Iran was co-edited with Larry Diamond. Dr. Milani edited and wrote the introduction for A Window into Modern Iran: The Ardeshir Zahedi Papers at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives and wrote Saadi and Humanism with Maryam Mirzadeh. Recently, he edited and translated An Encounter with Dylan Thomas by Ebrahim Golestan and published volume one of his 30 Portraits. Dr. Milani has also translated numerous books and articles into Persian and English. He has published more than 200 essays and book reviews in journals and papers.


Laleh Khadivi

Laleh Khadivi is an author of fiction and non-fiction. Her Kurdish Trilogy and short fiction have been awarded the Whiting Award, The Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers Award, an NEA grant and a Pushcart Prize. Her storytelling extends to the screen and to journalism with works appearing in the New York Times, LA Times, SF Chronicle, VQR and other publications and broadcast on A&E and at film festivals internationally. She is this spring's Stein Visiting Writer in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford.

If you need a disability-related accommodation for this event, please contact us at iranianstudies [at] (iranianstudies[at]stanford[dot]edu).  Requests should be made by April 24, 2023.