Parisa is a keynote speaker, a strategic adviser and a multi award winning veteran journalist and news executive. With over three decades of experience on the global stage, Parisa has first hand experience dealing with world leaders, dignitaries and high-ranking officials across the globe and opening doors to difficult and dangerous parts of the world where freedom of speech is in no way guaranteed.
Parisa speaks on the topic of compassionate leadership to audiences across private and public sectors. Those who meet and hear Parisa are struck by her down-to-earth approach and wealth of life experience which is so evident in her message. Parisa’s motto is: you never know what is inside someone until you give them a chance.
Throughout her career as senior vice president for international news gathering, national news gathering, global relations and the first ever ambassador for CNN Worldwide, Parisa directed historic coverage of countless award-winning news stories. Parisa left CNN in 2015.
CNN lauded Parisa in its farewell to her by stating: “No one has played a greater role in emergence and dominance of CNN international news gathering than Parisa.”
Parisa’s perspective has evolved throughout the years as an immigrant, a journalist and a mother. Parisa didn’t just cover revolutions, she lived through one personally and experienced her own life change dramatically after the 1979 revolution in Iran. Parisa’s joy and passion both in her career as a journalist and as a mother to her special son is to help give voice to the voiceless. She leads with compassion and integrity earning her the nickname of “Mother Parisa” from many of her colleagues.
“You never know what is inside someone until you give them a chance.” Parisa.
Parisa has spoken about compassionate leadership at NASA, United Nations, Delta Airlines and numerous other private and public organizations and companies. Parisa built and maintained ongoing working relationships with world leaders, dignitaries and high-ranking officials while ensuring top editorial access and forging positive strategic relationships for the network all over the world. She also managed International Newsource, the network’s international affiliate operation with more than 200 CNN affiliates worldwide, and the CNN Journalism Fellowship programs.
A member of the CNN team for almost three decades, Parisa served as CNN’s senior vice president of international newsgathering, domestic newsgathering with editorial, operational and administrative oversight of CNN’s bureaus and assignment desks, which provided the network’s global coverage. Parisa played a vital role in the network’s award-winning coverage of the most significant stories since joining CNN including Tiananmen Square, the live coverage of both Iraq Wars, the Fall of the East Bloc, the End of Apartheid, the genocide in Rwanda, 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina. She directed CNN’s coverage of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and the award-winning news coverage of the devastating earthquake in Haiti; the Emmy-nominated coverage of the attempted airline terror attack over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009; and the duPont-winning coverage of the tsunami disaster in South Asia.
Parisa led the network’s Peabody and Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprisings and conflicts throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In March 2011, she simultaneously led the network’s ongoing coverage of the Arab Spring as well as the powerful earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. The news coverage of these stories were simulcast across CNN’s networks and platforms around the clock, including live broadcasts from Egypt under a difficult crackdown by the regime upon the media, and in close range of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant as its reactors failed. She has been a leading force within the industry for incorporating user-generated content into newsgathering to bolster seasoned reporting, particularly from countries with limited or no press freedom.
In addition, Parisa oversaw The CNN Freedom Project, an award-winning, multi-platform initiative that aimed to expose the horrors of modern-day slavery and push for change, as well as numerous other CNN global initiatives such as girls’ education. Parisa directed CNN’s largest investment in international newsgathering in its history. She strategically increased the number of bureaus around the world, placing new operations in emerging global centers and in the Middle East, including in Kabul, Afghanistan; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Lagos, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; Mumbai, India; Singapore; and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Parisa also increased the number of correspondents throughout the world, including in existing bureaus in Tokyo, Japan; Istanbul, Turkey; Beijing, China; New Delhi, India; Islamabad, Pakistan; Johannesburg, South Africa; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Berlin, Germany; and added a senior Latin American affairs editor in Atlanta.
Parisa’s experience and firsthand knowledge ranges from cross-cultural relations to leading through international and domestic crises. Parisa is a recognized authority on crisis and risk management and safety/security matters for her meticulous and decisive management of her staff as they covered the world’s most dangerous hot spots, conflicts and natural disasters.
Parisa served as a board member for the International News Safety Institute, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. She is a board member for Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, and serves on the advisory board for Child Spring and Iranian-American Women Foundation. Parisa’s work has brought her recognition and many prestigious awards for both individual and collaborative efforts. Parisa earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Columbia College in Chicago and studied French at the Université de Sorbonne in Paris and is fluent in Farsi.
Throughout Parisa’s career she has collected many distinguished industry awards for her individual work and also her collaborative and philanthropic efforts. Some of the awards include:
2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from IAWF
2014 Peabody Award for CNN’s Coverage of The Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls
2014 Monte Carlo Television Awards, Best 24 hour News Program – Ukraine unrest
2014 AIB Awards, The Downing of Flight MH17
2014 Zoroastrian Congress, Faith and Unity Award
2013 Headliner Awards 1st place, CNN Coverage of Egypt Unrest
2013 Headliner Awards 2nd place, Return to Benghazi
2013 New York Festivals, Silver Medal Best Interview, Amanpour – President Rouhani of Iran
2013 Royal Television Society Award, News Channel of the Year, CNN International
2013 Legendary Awards, Humanitarian Award
2012 Peabody Award for CNN’s Coverage of Inside Syria and Homs
2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage – Revolution in Egypt
2012 IRE Medal for Investigative Reporting – Benghazi: US Consulate Attack
2012 Edward R. Murrow Award, CNN Reporting from Inside Syria
2012 Royal Television Society Award, News Channel of the Year, CNN International
2011 Peabody Award for CNN’s Reporting of The Arab Spring
2011 SPJ – Public Service in Television Journalism, The CNN Freedom Project
2010 Peabody Award for CNN’s Coverage of Gulf Oil Spill
2010 Golden Nymph awarded to CNN for its 24-hour news coverage of the earthquake in Haiti
2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recognizing Parisa as a distinguished American
2007 Edward R. Murrow Award for CNN’s coverage of the Middle East Conflict
2006 duPont Award for CNN’s Coverage of The Tsunami Disaster in South Asia
2005 Peabody Award for CNN: Hurricane Katrina
2004 Overseas Press Club for CNN’s Anatomy of a Raid
2003 CINE Award for CNN’s War in Iraq: The Road to Baghdad
2002 Overseas Press Club Award for CNN’s post 9-11 coverage
2001 Edward R. Murrow Award for CNN’s coverage of Sierra Leone
1995 duPont Award for CNN’s coverage of the Moscow uprising
1995 Overseas Press Club for CNN’s coverage of the Moscow uprising
1994 duPont Award for CNN’s coverage of Bosnia
1993 Golden CableACE Award for CNN’s coverage of the Gulf War
1993 Emmy Award for CNN’s coverage of Somalia
1993 Emmy Award for CNN’s coverage of Somalia
1993 Sigma Delta Chi Award for CNN’s coverage of Somalia
1992 Peabody Award for CNN’s coverage of attempted coup d’etat in the Soviet Union
1991 Peabody Institutional Award: CNN for its coverage of The Soviet Coup
1990 duPont Award for CNN’s Coverage of China
1990 Peabody Institutional Award: CNN for its Coverage of The Persian Gulf War
1989 Peabody Award for CNN’s Coverage of China