Iraj Khademi, a loving and beloved pillar of the Seattle Iranian community, passed away on August 6 in Bellevue, Washington. Affectionately called Amoo Iraj by many, Dr. Khademi was a longtime supporter of the University of Washington's NELC Department and was instrumental in creating a strong connection between the community and its Persian and Iranian Studies Program. He had a successful career as a lawyer and served his Baháʼí faith in England, Chile, and the US. After moving to Washington State in 1999, he established himself as a community leader and organizer.
Khademi founded and organized the monthly Persian Poetry and Music Workshop for over two decades in Bellevue. A strong believer in the importance of public-facing scholarship, Khademi worked tirelessly to turn the workshop into a platform for UW faculty and students to present their research and recite poetry in front of public audiences. In recognition of his efforts, he was one of the two recipients of the 2017 Aspasia Phoutrides Pulakis Memorial Award established in 1983 for significant contributions to the community at large.
An integral cultural fixture for thousands of Persian speakers in the Puget Sound region, the Persian Poetry and Music Workshop offered more than arts and culture: it brought together many generations of Iranians from different religious backgrounds and political affiliations to democratically discuss and debate literary, cultural, and historical issues of local and national import. In its third decade of activity, the workshop lives on as part of Dr. Khademi's legacy in Washington State. He is survived by his wife Bahieh Khanum, his daughter Parand, and his son Partow.
With the support of Peyvand, IACA, SISCA, Alefba, and the Persian Poetry and Music Workshop, NELC will hold a memorial for Iraj Khademi on Thursday, August 18 at 7:00 PM at Kane Hall 130.