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. In less than two years, Arya has advanced from consultant to assistant director to managing director of JQ International, an LGBTQ+ Jewish non-profit that seeks to transform Jewish communities by ensuring inclusion through education, support, and identity-enrichment. In 2017, continuing his devotion to this mission, Arya launched the first-ever Persian Pride Fellowship, an interfaith LGBTQ+ activism training to help prepare the next generation of leaders in this life-saving work.