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Board of Directors

Shiva Sarram, Founder and Executive Director

Shiva Sarram was born and raised in Tehran, Iran during the devastating Iran-Iraq war - a war that resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties. Her family moved to Europe briefly and eventually, to the United States where she has resided since the 1980's. Shiva attended the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Economics. She then worked on Wall Street for Chase Manhattan Bank, Deloitte & Touche, Tiger Management and McKinsey & Company.

Shiva has been involved with philanthropic efforts for over 30 years including serving on the Board of the Tiger Foundation for a decade, a $100 million dollar grantmaking foundation working to break the cycle of poverty for children and families in New York City. Her passion for war-affected children as well as her education in economic development, led her, in 2009, to the extraordinary vision and founding of the Blossom Hill Foundation which to date has established 14 schools and programs around the globe for war-impacted children and families. She resides in New Canaan, CT with her husband and two children where she is actively involved in a number of social justice and public policy issues including climate change, foreign policy and sensible gun law reform.

She is an avid traveler and photographer, passionate about flowers and farms and deeply rooted in her Iranian-American identity.

Hossein Amir-Aslani

Hossein Amir-Aslani has 31 years of experience in Investment Banking starting his career at Irving Trust Co. in 1985. He worked at JPMorgan for nearly twenty years and has been with Morgan Stanley since 2008. Hossein is in charge of the bank's global Aerospace & Defense/Government Services practice. His clients include Boeing, Raytheon, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Harris, Avolon, Booz Allen and Spirit Aero amongst others.

Hossein graduated from the University of Paris with a BA and MA in economics and earned an MBA in finance from New York University’s Stern School of Management. He currently resides in New Canaan, Connecticut with his wife of 30 years. They have two daughters in college and a son who is in high school. Hossein’s hobbies include reading, eating, running and tennis.

Heather Hewett

Heather Hewett is a writer and an associate professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz. She directed the Women’s Studies Program from 2005-2011 and teaches interdisciplinary courses that examine gender, human rights, feminism, and narrative. Her essays and articles have appeared in over two dozen academic and mainstream publications including The Washington Post;; The Christian Science Monitor; and Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. She also blogs about issues facing mothers and families around the world for Girl with Pen (

Heather is a graduate of Yale University. She holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Literary Studies, as well as a Graduate Certificate in African Studies, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been a Global Scholar at the Rutgers Institute for Research on Women and has taught in several high schools and colleges, including Université Gaston Berger in Senegal, where she served as a visiting lecturer.

Katy Palizban

Katy was born in Iran, but fled as young girl shortly after the 1979 revolution and in the early months of the Iran-Iraq war. She ultimately settled in the United Kingdom with her family. She completed her undergraduate studies in Economics and History at the London School of Economics and Queen Mary and Westfield College and pursued postgraduate studies at Harvard Business School.

Katy’s career has been focused on finance (investment banking and private equity) and she has worked in senior leadership positions across multiple continents. Most recently, Katy served as Managing Director and COO in the Corporate and Investment Banking division at Bank of America Securities. Prior to that, she was the COO of the bank’s Corporate and Investment Banking business for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She previously worked at Apax Partners in London and New York and started her career in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs in London.

Katy currently resides in New York City with her husband and two children. She dedicates her time to philanthropic efforts focused on assisting refugees, supporting war-affected women, and preserving the heritage of Persia. She has a lifelong passion for travel, poetry, tennis, horse- riding, botany, horticulture and cooking.

Drew Pearson, Treasurer

Drew Pearson is an experienced executive in the private equity industry. He most recently spent over 22 years at General Atlantic where he served as a Managing Director and Chairman of the Portfolio Committee. Prior to joining General Atlantic, Drew was a business analyst with McKinsey & Company, Inc. where he worked with Fortune 500 businesses in the technology and financial services industries.

Drew holds a MA/BA in Regional Science from The School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Finance from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Drew and the Blossom Hill Foundation founder, Shiva Sarram, are married with two children and consider this work a core part of their family values.

Janet Hartwell, Advisor

Born in Cambridge, England, Janet Hartwell lived in Iran and Saudi Arabia and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, before coming to America with her husband and two small children. Janet has 30 years of experience in the field of education. She was an English teacher at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry before becoming Head of the Middle School and Assistant Head of School. She then served as Assistant Head at Groton School in Massachusetts until she was appointed Head of School at Greens Farms Academy. At the Academy, she oversaw the expansion of facilities and overall program, including the World Perspectives Program -- a series of K-12 curricular initiatives that instill a deep understanding of global issues including health, climate change, and population growth. Janet retired from GFA in 2018 after 15 years as Head of School.

Janet holds a BA in English and Greek from the University of Leeds, UK, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Moray House, University of Edinburgh, and an MA in Educational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is past President of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools and is deeply committed to education for all children.