Our Founders

About Our Founders

Hamid Akbari and Azar Khounani have been married since 1978. They were both born and raised in Iran and came to the United States in 1978 (Azar) and 1979 (Hamid). 

Azar  is an early childhood educator by her passion, education and career path. She received her Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education in 1988 from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where she also received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Azar has devoted her career to advancing the welfare and development of children through her work as an Early Childhood Teacher and Director of a Title 20 Center for lower income families in Chicago. She is the founder and the current President of Kids Academy Learning Center in Morton Grove, Illinois. Azar is also passionate about human rights and women’s rights and has consistently worked to advance these causes in Iran, USA and other counties, including Burma. She strongly believes in the power of education, and especially early childhood education to change the society for peace, prosperity and progress.

Hamid has been a lifetime academic, teaching and administering in higher education since 1986. He received his Ph.D. in Business Administration from the Ohio State University in 1988. In his Ph.D. studies, Hamid majored in Organizational Behavior and Theory with a minor in Political Theory. Hamid also completed his MBA and MA in Political Science from the University of Toledo, Ohio. Hamid has been a professor and/or administrator at Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Illinois Institute of Technology Stewart School of Business, Winona State University and Carroll University. He has written journal articles and has presented at numerous conferences internationally. Hamid strongly believes in the power of higher education to change the society for peace, prosperity, and progress.

Over the past three and half decades, Hamid and Azar, together with their colleagues and friends, have initiated and advanced many projects and programs, including the following: