Arya is a first-generation American born to Iranian immigrants. He was raised in Los Angeles, the heart of the largest Persian-Jewish population in the world. Deeply driven by human connection, Arya earned his B.A. in psychology at the University of California San Diego, and later completed an M.A. in organizational behavior at New York University. Raised as a cultural Jew with less formal Jewish education, involvement with his undergraduate Hillel chapter shaped the trajectory of his adult life and career path. Following a seven-year student-leader to professional career from Hillel of San Diego to the Hillel International offices in Washington, D.C., Arya has fully embraced his alignment as a nonprofit Jewish communal “lifer." In 2015, he returned to Los Angeles after ten years split between San Diego, Tel Aviv, and D.C., encouraged by his ability to fully come out as a gay man to his family. Soon after, Arya began a body of work he had dreamt of since he was a teen, advocating for the full equality of LGBTQ+ individuals in Persian, Jewish, and broader communities.
Most recently he joined the Jews of Color Initiative as their Senior Director of Programs. A proud queer Jew who is passionate about empowering diverse Jewish identity, enriching equitable Jewish community, and ensuring inclusive pathways toward Jewish continuity, Arya has also served as a lay leader with other Jewish orgs including JDC Entwine, JPro, AJC, Schusterman’s ROI community, and others. He is an insatiable traveler and likely wants to visit your country soon too!