I always tell people, “My name is Neda.  It rhymes with feta.”  I reach people through humor, and abundant cheese references.  I would pride myself on my ability to strike up a conversation with a stranger and make him feel at home.  So, as a woman growing up in a somewhat Muslim household, I was hit with fear at the thought that some people in this country saw me as a stranger.  I was without direction.  My kindness and empathy, which led to my initial career as a mental health therapist, seemed greatly depleted.  I couldn’t make sense of people around me.  A fear grew, that the hatred bubbling from the election cycle was making its way to me...unintentionally and strong.

Enter my friend Angela.  Through a meal of ceviche and tortas, she helped me realize I needed to turn what I was feeling into something that would make change.  An impactful, positive, and hopefully sustainable change. With the strength of hundreds of fiesty Persian women before me, I hope to contribute to organizations and causes that are bigger than me and the reach of this election cycle.  I make this pledge, for my family, for my friends, and for me.