Message from our Founders

Why are we founding our Foundation and why are we naming it Dehkhoda?

We are founding Dehkhoda Educational Foundation because in our core, we are passionate about promoting servant leadership and want to realize our passion by initiating and supporting imaginative ways and means to educate the public about the ideals, ideas, and examples of servant leaders. To start our foundation, we intend to first establish an International Museum for Servant Leaders named after Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the late democratic leader of Iran. We are also eager to explore establishing a unique Earth Community University, a university of the Earth, for the Earth and by the earthly citizens. Additionally, we will seek and pursue a few other ideas, including supporting students in college as well as children in pre-school by providing scholarships to them. 

We are choosing to name the foundation Dehkhoda since to us, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda symbolizes the noblest ideals of an erudite scholar and activist servant leader. Born in Iran in 1879, Dehkhoda rose to become a prominent 20th century Iranian historical figure with an overarching distinction for his literary, scholarly, cultural, social, and political contributions in moving Iranian society towards modernism with an Iranian identity.  Furthermore, in 1990, together with our artist painter friend, Ario Mashayekhi, we opened Dehkhoda library in Chicago, which unfortunately had to close only after a few years due to financial difficulties. The library’s name was recommended to us by our mentor and friend, the late Amir Houshang Keshavarz Sadr, an esteemed Iranian scholar with vast knowledge about Dehkhoda and other prominent Iranian figures from the era of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. We like to think of Dehkhoda Educational Foundation as the phoenix rising from the ashes of Dehkhoda Library. 

From a universal perspective, Dehkhoda was a worldly humanitarian and a true servant leader. He never was enslaved to wealth, fame, or power. At age nine following his father’s death, Dehkhoda had to start working to maintain himself and his family, and yet throughout his life he never pursued wealth; rather, he remained steadfast to the righteous path of serving people of Iran together with an utmost respect for the people of the world. He experienced the progress of modernity in his visits and stays in Europe first as a diplomat, and later as a political exile. He believed in and exemplified an integrative view of a modern Iranian character imbued with the noble elements of Iran’s traditional and cultural identity and the progressive elements of the Western modernity, including democracy and the fundamental freedoms enshrined therein.  His vast legacy for Iran is embodied in his groundbreaking Persian Language Encyclopedia, the first of its kind, known as the Dehkhoda Loghat Nameh. 

In some important ways, Dehkhoda resembles Albert Einstein. Einstein is considered the most influential scientific mind of the world in 20th century. Dehkhoda is also considered as Iran’s 20th century great erudite (Allameh) for his unprecedented knowledge and grasp of Persian language and literature as well as for the breadth and depth of his understanding of social sciences.  Both men have influenced the progress of knowledge tremendously in their respective realms. Neither of them pursued wealth and in turn relentlessly pursued truth. Both were concerned about the social, economic, and political well-being of their fellow human beings at large. Dehkhoda was indeed involved in political activism during Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1906, and yet again in support of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran’s democratic premier, during the latter’s reign from 1951-1953. Einstein played violin whereas Dehkhoda occasionally wrote exquisite poetry. They both served humanity in noble and lasting ways. 

In his master poem, Remember the Dead Flame, in memory of his martyred friend, Jahangir Khan Sooresrafil, the editor and publisher of the publication, Sooresrafil, who in 1907 was hanged by Iran’s despotic king, Mohammad Ali Shah, Dehkhoda calls for the remembrance of those who died for serving people while pursuing liberty and justice. Through our Foundation in the name of Dehkhoda, we too, shall contribute to life, liberty, happiness, and justice for as many people as we can, and pay tribute to the servants of humanity both form the past and present. 

We hope you join us by supporting Dehkhoda Foundation in any way you can. We truly need, seek and welcome your help and involvement.


Hamid Akbari and Azar Khounani
Co-Founders of Dehkhoda Educational Foundation