The Baskerville Institute is guided by a dedicated Board of Advisors, whose members come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. They share a passion for fostering understanding and cooperation between the Iranian and American peoples, and upholding the legacy of Howard C. Baskerville. The Board of Advisors includes scholars, diplomats, business leaders, and activists who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Institute’s work. Together, they help to ensure that the Baskerville Institute remains at the forefront of efforts to build bridges between Iran and the United States, and promote mutual understanding and respect.
Janet Afary holds the Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion and Modernity at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is a Professor of Religious Studies. She is a historian of modern Iran and has a PhD in History and Near East Studies from the University of Michigan, where her dissertation received the Distinguished Rackham Dissertation Award. Her books include: Sexual Politics in Modern Iran (Cambridge UP, 2009, winner of the British Society for Middle East Studies Annual Book Prize) and The Iranian Constitutional Revolution: Grassroots Democracy, Social Democracy, and the Origins of Feminism (Columbia UP, 1996, winner of Dehkhoda Institute Book Award)
Reza Aslan is an internationally-renowned writer, commentator, professor, and religious scholar, whose NYT bestselling books. A recipient of the prestigious James Joyce award, Aslan is the author of three internationally best-selling books, including the #1 New York Times Bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and the Future of Islam, God: A Human History, and How to Win a Cosmic War.
Aslan is a professor at U.C. Riverside, where he teaches creative writing. Among Aslan’s many community leadership and service positions, he’s on the board of the Chicago Theological Seminary and the Yale Humanist Community. His producing credits include the acclaimed HBO series The Leftovers and the upcoming Chuck Lorre comedy, United States of Al. He is the host and Executive Producer of Rough Draft with Reza Aslan.
Miles Hansen is the President and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to promoting prosperity across the state by attracting investment and increasing exports. Hansen was most recently the Director for Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council in the White House. Prior to that, he served as a staff aide to the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. A speaker of Russian, Farsi and Arabic, Hansen has firsthand experience in more than 70 countries and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Benjamin was most recently the Director of Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development where he oversaw the City’s economic development efforts, including arts and culture and business development. Prior to serving with Salt Lake City, Benjamin served as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of SelectUSA, the government-wide initiative to
attract and retain foreign business investment in the United States. As an official with SelectUSA, Benjamin provided guidance to the Executive Director to create jobs, spur economic growth, and promote American competitiveness. Before joining SelectUSA, he was dedicated to the development of Afghanistan’s war-torn economy as an official in the U.S. Department of Defense. Benjamin’s projects focused on stabilizing the war-torn country through economic development initiatives in the cashmere sector. Benjamin has a MBA with an emphasis in globalization and international trade from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from Utah State University.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. He is a veteran U.S. diplomat and a former official at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where he was held captive during the Iran hostage crisis. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. all from Harvard University. His Ph.D. was in History and Middle Eastern Studies.
Charles Randall Paul (Ph.D., University of Chicago, Committee on Social Thought, 2000; M.B.A., Harvard University, 1972) is board chair, founder, and president of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. He has lectured widely and written numerous articles on healthy methods for engaging differences in religions and ideologies. He is on the board of editors for the International Journal of Decision Ethics.
Lawrence Wilkerson’s last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army and was an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs in the Honors Program at the George Washington University. He is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.
Bahman Baktiari is the Executive Director of the Baskerville Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization devoted to supporting and strengthening the bonds of friendships between Iranian and American peoples. As an American institute named after the Presbyterian Howard C. Baskerville, who sacrificed his life fighting for Iranian democracy and liberty during the Constitutional Revolution 1906-1911, the founders of the institute are committed to continuing the legacy and memory of Baskerville who has been called the “American Lafayette of Iran.” Our guiding principle comes from Baskerville’s own words:
“I cannot remain and watch indifferently the suffering of [Iranian] people fighting for their rights, I am an American citizen and am proud of it, but I am also a human being and cannot help feeling deep sympathy with people of this city [Tabriz].”
Prior to this position, he has held various academic, administrative positions at University of Utah, University of Maine, American University in Cairo (AUC), and American University in Washington, DC. He received his PhD from University of Virginia in International Law and Government. Dr. Baktiari’s most recent publications include:
40 years after the Iran hostage crisis, enduring bonds of friendship remain,” “How Can Iran and the United States Normalize Their Relationship After36 Years of Mutual Satanization?“, “Sports Diplomacy With Iran: Breaking Barriers, Bridging Differences,” “Can the U.S. and Iran Become Trustworthy Rivals?“, and “Rouhani’s Nuclear Gridlock: Assessing the Domestic Challenges to President Hassan Rouhani’s Nuclear Deal with the West.”
He has published extensively in the area of Iranian culture and politics including Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: Institutionalization of Factional Politics, “Seeking International Legitimacy: Understanding the Dynamics of Nuclear Nationalism in Iran” (Nuclear Politics in Iran), “Iran: Shari`a Politics and the Transformation of Islamic Law” ( Shari’a Politics, Islamic Law, and Society in the Modern World), and “Revolutionary Iran and Egypt: Exporting Inspirations and Anxiety” (Iran and the Surrounding World).