Fereshteh Tavakoli is the co-founder of International Society for Children with Cancer (ISCC). ISCC was established in 2004, and began operating with Ms. Tavakoli and a few of her friends. Since then, it has grown in size and scope, attracting a large member base, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through fund-raising events, personal donations and charity sales. ISCC has donated funds to health organizations in over a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Bangladesh and Kenya.
In December 2008, ISCC became the first and only non-government organization to get approval from US Treasury to send money to Iran. Ms. Tavakoli is credited for invigorating a grassroots movement among the Iranian-American community in Los Angeles to take up her cause. She has been tireless in this effort: driving all around the state giving presentations and lectures at universities, social clubs and community gatherings; appearing weekly on Iranian radio shows to encourage social activism in the community; and establishing a youth chapter, drawing second-generation Iranian-Americans to connect to their home-land.
Ms. Tavakoli was born in Tehran, Iran, and has lived in the United States, on and off, since the 1960s. Educated in interior design at the University of Idaho, Ms. Tavakoli spent her early career as a decorator in Tehran and also worked at Tehran University.
She became involved with MAHAK in 1991. Over the years, Ms. Tavakoli volunteered as a social worker at public children's hospitals, fund-raising coordinator and public relations director. MAHAK is now Iran's leading and biggest NGO. MAHAK has a state-of-the-art research facility and hospital specializing in treatment of children with cancer. Ms. Tavakoli is still involved with MAHAK and volunteers her services when she visits Tehran once a year. ISCC is a broader continuation of MAHAK's mission and dream of not letting any cancer-stricken child die due to lack of funds.
Ms. Tavakoli has two daughters and lives in Chatsworth with her husband.