In Atherton, Noosheen Hashemi, 43, an Iranian-born business executive and former vice president of finance for U.S. operations at Oracle Corp., is using her economics background to guide her international philanthropy.
Hashemi was sent by her parents at age 14 to live with her brother in San Jose in 1977, two years before the Iranian revolution unseated the Shah. She earned an economics degree from San Jose State University and went to work at Oracle in 1985, helping guide a financial turnaround for the company after it was hit with class-action shareholder lawsuits in 1990 and forced to restate earnings in 1991.
Today, she's a "retired" mother of two, married to Farzad Nazem, the chief technology officer at Yahoo. She's also created three nonprofit groups and sits on the board of a fourth, devoting 70 hours a week to her causes.
Hashemi's interests revolve around using economic development to fight global instability, and preventing child abuse. "It doesn't make good sense to solve all problems with military solutions -- at the end of the day, stability is an economics issue," she said. "Whether it's Oakland, Egypt or Afghanistan, if millions of 18-year-olds don't have jobs, they're going to be up to all sorts of mischief."
PARSA made its first grant in September, giving $210,000 to Ashoka, an international program in Virginia. Ashoka gives seed money to entrepreneurs in disadvantaged countries to start programs that address social problems, such as dispute resolution centers in Nigeria, self-help movements for disabled street beggars in Ghana and drug rehabilitation centers in Peru. Ashoka will select an entrepreneur of Persian descent and award the money to him or her for use in a social engineering project.
[Excerpt of an article by Carolyne Zinko, San Francisco Chronicle]