Younes and Soraya Nazarian, both natives of Iran living in Beverly Hills, are no strangers to philanthropy.
The wealthy husband and wife are founders of the Younes & Soraya Family Foundation and its Israeli sister organization, the Ima Foundation. The latter organization honoring the memory of the family matriarch, Younes’ mother, supports the recreational needs of Israel’s soldiers and long-term planning for the country’s economy.
The Nazarians serve on the Board of Directors for the Friends of IDF, a fundraising non-profit organization for the Israel Defense Forces. Younes is also the former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and the Haifa Foundation.
Younes was born in a Jewish family in Iran. His father died when he was three years old, and soon he was forced to work at Tehran’s Bazaar, repairing and replacing bulbs. Younes had bigger aspirations and was drawn to the construction business at a time when Iran’s economy was booming. As a construction contractor he amassed a large fortune but like many, lost it during Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Younes, as a member of Iran’s Jewish minority, was alarmed by several anti-minority incidents and decided to immigrate to California.
Careers In The US
In 1980, borrowing against monies owed to their confiscated Iranian business by European companies, Younes and his brother Izak Parviz were able to purchase precision tool manufacturer, Standard Tool & Die (Stadco), Bloomberg reported, on December 01, 2011. This proved to be the beginning of the Nazarian financial empire.
Younes also proved to be a savvy investor. He was an early investor in Qualcomm and a major shareholder of ANG Inc. He is currently chair of Nazarian Enterprises, owner of Nimes Capital, real estate and other interests.
Younes, now 86, says, “After coming to U.S. I was forced to construct everything from the scratch. I already had the experience for going back to square one and start all over again.”
His wife, Soraya Nazarian is an established stone sculptor with a studio in Los Angeles. Her latest work, Unbound (2016), will be installed this year at the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics.
The Nazarian family fortune is estimated to be well over $1 billion.
Donation To CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center
The unprecedented $17 million donation is the largest single arts gift to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and highlights the center’s diverse programming as a leading San Fernando Valley venue for world class acts.
The 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center opened with great fanfare in 2011 as the San Fernando Valley’s preeminent music, dance and theater magnet.
“Through this historic and transformational gift, Younes and Soraya Nazarian are investing in the elevating power of the arts and in the artists who enlighten and inspire us all,” Cal State Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison said in a statement. “The Nazarians’ generosity is unlike any CSUN has ever experienced.”
The Nazarian’s daughter, Sharon, president of the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation added: “We in the Iranian American community are ready to make our mark in the arts and culture arena. It’s almost four decades since the revolution and we feel as a family that we have a responsibility to give back to the community.”
As a result of the large donation, the world-class concert hall will be renamed the ‘Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts’, with ‘The Soraya’ as the preferred shortened name.
“At CSUN, we found the perfect opportunity to impact the entire region by supporting two of our family’s most treasured values — education and the arts,” said the 86 year-old Younes Nazarian. “My wife’s name, Soraya, means jewel, and this center is a jewel as well.
— ValleyPerformingArts (@VPACatCSUN) July 19, 2017
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