Annually, each California legislator chooses a woman in his/her district to honor in collaboration with the Legislative Women’s Caucus. Senator Ben Allen selected Maryam Zar as the Senate District 24 Woman of the Year 2023.
Zar, the President of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, was honored in a ceremony at the California State Senate in Sacramento on March 20.
The Iranian-born Zar is a strong advocate for human rights and has been proactive in speaking in support of the women’s movement taking place in Iran.
Allen said in honoring the Palisadian, “This past year, the courageous women of Iran have taken to the streets fighting for their rights. Here in the United States, Persian-American women have led the fight to make sure their struggle is not ignored.
“Maryam has been a leader in this effort,” Allen said. “Her leadership builds upon years of community service in the Palisades and the broader Los Angeles region.
She has been putting in the hard work of finding local solutions for homelessness, leading the Community Council with strength and energy. I’m proud to name her SD 24 Woman of the Year for 2023!”
In addition to the PPCC, Zar is the chair of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils Land Use and Planning Committee, secretary of Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board, a member of the Design Review Board and chair of the Palisades-Malibu YMCA board.
Zar received a degree from Boston University before moving back to Iran in 1992. She became a correspondent for GMR (Gulf Marketing Review, published in London) and the Iran Business Monitor (published in New York), and also served as an editor at Tehran News, an English-language daily newspaper in Iran.
She then moved back to the U.S. in 1995 and received a law degree from Pepperdine University.
She married, moved to Pacific Palisades, and now has three children, all of whom have attended local public schools.
In 2010, she established Womenfound to promote awareness of the plight of women around the world.
She was appointed as a City Commissioner on the Status of Women, and in 2019, she visited a Greek refugee camp for the Azadi Project. This undertaking provides digital economy job skills to refugee women by teaching them technical skills such as multimedia communications and storytelling at refugee shelters.
Zar was the first chair of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, when it was initially established as a PPCC committee in 2014.
“I’m thrilled to be receiving this accolade from Senator Ben Allen, who is a pleasure to work with and represents the kind of public servant all districts should be lucky enough to have,” Zar said. “This year, with the Woman Life Freedom movement for civil rights inspired by women in Iran underway, the WOTY award is particularly meaningful to me and I’m grateful and humbled to have been chosen.”