We have worked for The New York Times, The BBC, HBO, National Geographic, Discovery, Al Jazeera, Channel 4 News, Newsweek, The Guardian and The Sunday Times among others. We have also worked in extensively in media development and education including BBC Media Action, Search For Common Ground, IREX, Escuela Internacional de Cine Y Television, The Prince Claus Foundation and The Open Society Foundation.
Board member, president
Maziar Bahari is an Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker. He was a reporter for Newsweek from 1998 to 2011, largely working in Tehran; but in 2009, after reporting on the Iran presidential election crisis, Bahari was jailed for 118 days in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison. He was released after a successful international campaign. Bahari’s book They They Came for Me told the story of his incarceration and in 2014 was adapted as the feature film Rosewater by Jon Stewart.
Bahari has produced documentaries and news reports for broadcasters around the world including the BBC, Channel 4, HBO, Discovery, Canal+ and NHK. His films include Paint! No Matter What (1999), Football, Iranian Style (2001), And Along Came a Spider (2002), Mohammad and the Matchmaker (1994), Targets: Reporters in Iraq (2005), Greetings from Sadr City (2007), Online Ayatollah (2008), The Fall of a Shah (2009), An Iranian Odyssey (2010) and To Light a Candle (2014).
Today Bahari directs IranWire, Journalism Is Not A Crime and Education Is Not A Crime, and other Journalism for Change projects and content.
Bahari graduated with a degree in communications from Concordia University in Montreal in 1993.
Board member, Vice President & Treasurer, ex officio
Mark Whitehouse is an independent consultant specializing in international media and civil society development and strategic management. He has twenty years of demonstrated success in project design, sector assessments, proposal writing and management, strategic planning, organizational development, and non-profit leadership, including 4 years as IREX Vice President, where he led its media and civil society practices for a $25 million annual project portfolio.
He has extensive experience in non-profit management, having previously served on the steering committee for the Global Forum for Media Development and the board of the Broadcast Training Center - ProMedia (Bulgaria). He is currently president of the board of the French organization IREX Europe (France) and is treasurer of the board of American Friends of the Media Legal Defence Initiative.
Whitehouse has previously worked at the American Council of Teachers of Russian, the Carter Center's Commission of Radio and Television Policy, and as a contractor at USAID. Whitehouse graduated with a BA, Magna Cum Laude, from Georgetown University and received an MA in Russian and East European Studies from Georgetown and an MA in Political Science from Emory University.
Michael de Villiers
Michael de Villiers has served as the Director of IREX Europe, an independent, French not-for-profit, since its founding in 2004. He has grown IREX Europe into an innovative development organization with expertise working in support of human rights, freedom of expression, civil society, and education in closed and authoritarian societies and states in conflict in Eurasia, the Middle East, and Africa. De Villiers has been active in international development for more than 15 years as a journalism trainer, project director, and non-profit executive. Prior to his international development career, de Villiers worked as a journalist for the BBC World Service and the CBC.
Mehrengiz Kar is a prominent Iranian lawyer, human rights activist, women’s rights activist, and author of the book Crossing the Red Line, as well as many articles. Kar was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and in the 2005/06 academic year was at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has also been recognized as a Scholar at Risk through an international network of universities and colleges working to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide.
Kar currently works at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women in Brown University. She also teaches courses on women's rights in Iran at the Tavaana E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society. In 2002, the U.S. First Lady, Laura Bush, gave her the National Endowment for Democracy's Democracy award. She is the widow of Siamak Pourzand, a fellow Iranian dissident and former prisoner of conscience who committed suicide on 29 April 2011, after a long period of torture and imprisonment.
Saleem Vaillancourt is a journalist and human rights campaigner with a focus on Iran and education equality. He coordinates Education Is Not a Crime, a Journalism for Change project, which uses the arts to promote education equality and to defend the rights of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community. Vaillancourt and Maziar Bahari are executive producers of the 2017 documentary on this campaign – Changing the World, One Wall at a Time.
Vaillancourt studied global politics at the London School of Economics, graduating in 2005, and English literature at Queen Mary, University of London. He interned at the BBC and the Guardian before moving to New York in 2007 to coordinate research on violent religious extremism across the Abrahamic faiths at the East-West Institute. He later worked as a communications consultant, journalist and editor in Singapore and across Southeast Asia and South Asia.
The 2009 Iran presidential election crisis shifted Vaillancourt’s work. He wrote about the crisis for the Spanish site RTVE.es, which were published in translation; he later became a media officer on human rights in Iran and across the Middle East.