Kamy Akhavan, Former CEO
Kambiz "Kamy” Akhavan served as CEO of ProCon.org from Sep. 30, 2016 to June 14, 2019. Prior to that he served as Managing Editor (since December 7, 2004) and President (since Dec. 7, 2010). Kamy has more than 20 years of experience in making serious educational content entertaining, accessible, and affordable. His work has been published in textbooks, magazines, newspapers, and websites across the United States. He has been interviewed by national media including Reuters, Associated Press, Fox News, ABC, NPR, CNN, CBS. Kamy was born in Iran, grew up in southern Louisiana, and has lived in California for over 25 years. He holds a BA and MA in History from UCLA. He loves music, politics, audiobooks, running, soup, his wife, his son, and ProCon.org.
2. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
- Earned a Master’s degree from UCLA in 1998 with summa cum laude distinctions for study in European History.
- Graduated magna cum laude from UCLA in 1994 with a B.A. in Modern Intellectual History of Europe and College Honor’s distinctions. Became a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and was awarded a lifetime membership in Phi Beta Kappa for academic achievement.
- Has taken non-degree courses in journalism, nonprofit management, and fundraising (UCLA) as well as political science and speech (Stanford University).
3. PANELS AND PUBLICATIONS
- CEO of ProCon.org. Hired on Dec. 7, 2004. Has been interviewed by Associated Press, Reuters, ABC, NPR, CNN, CBS, Fox News, and dozens more newspapers, magazines, and TV stations, on topics ranging from marijuana and gun control to physician-assisted suicide and minimum wage. Additional specialty areas include civics education, political polarization, nonprofit management, and cannabis policy.
- Serves on the Advisory Boards of Action Civics LA (https://www.mikvachallenge.org/action-civics-ca) and Critica ( https://critica.life). Also an Advisor to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s Cannabis Policy Committee.
- Worked as a writer, researcher, proofreader, and image licensor in educational software development. Clients included Library of Congress, Holt McDougal, and National Geographic.
- Worked in the L.A. film industry for several years in the acquisition, distribution, and marketing of foreign language and American independent films. Some of his releases included My Favorite Season (France; starring Catherine Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil), Blue Juice (U.K.; featuring Catherine Zeta Jones), God Is My Witness (Bollywood hit starring Amitabh Bachham and Sridevi), and The Stranger (India; directed by legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray) among others.
- Served as Chief Editor of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Clearinghouse on Entrepreneurship Education (CELCEE)
- Worked as management consultant for McMaster-Carr, a high-volume industrial supply company ($1B+ revenue).
4. PERSONAL STUFF
- Keynote speaker, Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) Washington Briefing, Hogan Lovells law firm (Washington, DC), May 5, 2019
- Presenter, "Never Trump or Forever Trump?” high-profile debate with Mike Murphy (GOP consultant), Anthony Scaramucci (former White House Director of Communications), and Mike Gatto (four-term CA State Assemblyman, D-Los Angeles), University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA), Apr. 17, 2019
- Presenter, "The Great Debaters Screening and Debate Showcase,” student debate, film screening, and panel discussion with Hollywood celebrities hosted by Ronald Reagan Library and Presidential Museum (Simi Valley, CA), Feb. 1, 2019
- Presenter, "The Great Rent Control Debate," hosted by The Rotary Club of Los Angeles, featuring former 4-time California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, Yes on 10 Campaign Director Damien Goodmon, and Editor-in-Chief of the LA Business Journal Jerry Sullivan; California Club (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 26, 2018
- Presenter, "Reaching Across the Aisle," panel discussion with Congressmen David Jolly (R-FL) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA), Oct. 23, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CwAFsmqmb8&t
- Moderator, "Don't Raise Your Voice. Improve Your Argument." Panel discussion with Dr. Sara Gorman (author of Denying to the Grave), Celeste Headlee (author of We Need to Talk), Congressman David Jolly (R-FL), and Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-FL); Politicon convention (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 21, 2018 https://www.procon.org/headline.php?headlineID=005414
- Presenter, "Reaching Millions More – Growing Audiences for Educational Websites," peer-learning seminar for organizational members of The Bridge Alliance, Sep. 20, 2018
- Presenter, "Bursting the Echo Chamber: Resources to Fight Polarization and Empower Critical Thinking," Webinar hosted by Credo Reference, Sep. 13, 2018
- Presenter, PRO/CON at the Pier, four-part Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA held in partnership with Santa Monica Pier (Santa Monica, CA), Aug. 6 – Aug. 27, 2018
- Head judge and keynote speaker, Great Communicator Debate Series National Championship, Ronald Reagan Library and Presidential Museum (Simi Valley, CA), July 21, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj8HdvWhiNM&feature=youtu.be&t=4722
- Author, "Amplifying the Power of Debate with AI," IBM Think Blog, https://www.ibm.com/blogs/think/2018/07/power-of-debate-ai/, July 19, 2018
- Presenter, California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS) Annual Conference, "How Political Opinions Are Formed, Changed, and Empowered: Saving Democracy through Critical Thinking," Town & Country Resort (San Diego, CA), Mar. 24, 2018
- Moderator, "Day of Dialogue - Issues around Preventing Mass Shootings," invited by Compton Early College High School (Compton, CA), Mar. 14, 2018
- Judge, "Project Soapbox Competition" at Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, CA), invited by Action Civics LA – the California satellite of Chicago-based Mikva Challenge, Jan. 25, 2018
- Guest Lecturer, "College and Career Readiness" course at DaVinci High School (Hawthorne, CA), invited by history teacher Rob Allen, Nov. 27, 2017
- Guest Lecturer, California State University Channel Islands (Oxnard, CA) course "COMP 110 – Computer Literacy for Educators" invited by Catharine Reznicek, Adjunct Faculty School of Education, Oct. 23 and 25, 2017
- Panelist, Credo Annual Offsite Meeting at Cambridge Innovation Center (Cambridge, MA), discussion about nonpartisan reference materials in libraries and the challenge of curation, Oct. 19, 2017
- Presenter, PRO/CON at the Pier and PRO/CON at USC, seven-part Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA held in partnership with Santa Monica Pier and USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, Sep. 12 – Oct. 3, 2017
- Presenter, 13th Annual Constitution Day Conference (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA), "How Political Opinions Are Formed, Changed, and Empowered: Saving Democracy Through Critical Thinking," Sep. 9, 2017
- Moderator, panel discussion with Lesley Stahl, Amie Parnes, Shermichael Singleton, John Phillips at Politicon convention, "Building Beliefs: How We Form Our Political Views," July 29, 2017
- Panelist, Plenary session of Center for Nonprofit Management annual 501(c)onference (Los Angeles, CA), "Building Trust and Support When Facts Don't Matter," May 15, 2017
- Presenter, California Civic Learning Student Showcase (Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Yorba Linda, CA), "Why and How to Teach Controversial Issues in Your Classroom – Using the Free Resources at ProCon.org to Advance Critical Thinking and Informed Citizenship," May 13, 2017
- Guest Lecturer, "BAEP 499: Seminar in Entrepreneurship," USC Marshall School of Business, Invited by Adjunct Faculty member Paul Orfalea, former CEO of Kinkos, Nov. 15, 2016
- Recipient, John Anson Ford Human Relations Award, on behalf of work done for Visions of Unity, a Torrance-based student arts and literature contest, Oct. 25, 2016. Award granted by Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations and presented by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
- Panelist, Election 2.016 Technology and Civic Engagement (Pepperdine University), "Informed Voting in the Information Age,” Oct. 14, 2016
- Presenter, Teaching for Democracy Alliance webinar, "Teaching the Presidential Debates," Sep. 14, 2016
- Presenter, 12th Annual Constitution Day Conference (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA), "Using the 2016 Presidential Election to Teach Critical Thinking and Civic Engagement," Sep. 10, 2016
- Guest Lecturer, "BAEP 499: Seminar in Entrepreneurship," USC Marshall School of Business, Invited by Adjunct Faculty member Paul Orfalea, former CEO of Kinkos, Aug. 30, 2016
- Guest lecturer, "Developing Critical Thinking Skills for AP Courses and for Life," Talented & Gifted Magnet (TAG) School (Dallas, TX; the #1 ranked high school in America, 2009-2016, US News & World Report), Aug. 16, 2016
- Presenter, Junior Statesmen of America Gene Burd Symposium on Media & Politics (UCLA campus, Los Angeles, CA), "Critical Thinking Seminar on Social Networking,” July 28, 2016 (8th consecutive year presenting at this event; selected as "Best Speaker" by attendees for all 8 years)
- Presenter, Ronald Reagan Library "Road to the White House” professional development workshop, "Critical Thinking and the 2016 Presidential Election," (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA), July 21, 2016
- Presenter, "How and Why to Discuss Controversial Social Issues in the Classroom," Mikva Challenge professional development workshop (Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA), June 29, 2016
- Presenter, "Using the 2016 Presidential Election to Teach Critical Thinking and Civic Engagement," National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Annual Conference (New Orleans, LA), Nov. 13, 2015
- Presenter, 11th Annual Constitution Day Conference (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA), "Using the 2016 Presidential Election to Teach Critical Thinking and Civic Engagement,” Sep. 20, 2015
- Presenter, 35th International Conference on Critical Thinking (Berkeley, CA), "Using Election Issues to Teach Critical Thinking and Civic Participation,” July 29, 2015
- Presenter, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Speak Truth to Power teacher conference (Los Angeles, CA), "Exploring Controversial Issues in the Classroom Using Web-Based Resources,” July 27, 2015
- Presenter, 6th Annual ICT in Higher Education Summit (Johannesburg, South Africa), "Pros and Cons of Social Networking in Higher Learning," Mar. 25, 2015
- Co-presenter, California Conference for the Social Studies annual conference (Oakland, CA), "Don’t Hate. Debate,” Mar. 7, 2015
- Panelist, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 44th annual legislative conference, "Teacher Tenure: Education or Politics?" Hosted by the American Federation of Teachers, Sep. 26, 2014
- Co-presenter, National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) annual conference (Manhattan Beach, CA), talk on medical marijuana, Apr. 7, 2011
- Panelist, one of the first ever Continuing Medical Education (CME) classes on medical marijuana in the United States (Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, CA), "What Physicians Should Know About Medical Marijuana,” Apr. 22, 2010
- Panelist, Politics Online national conference (Washington, DC), "The Future of Online Debate and Dialogue” and "Collaborative Politics Online: Principles, Pitfalls and Practical Advice,” Apr. 20, 2009
- Published articles on diverse topics including "Marinol vs. Marijuana: Politics, Science, and Popular Culture,” "Business Ethics,” and various cultural events and attractions in Los Angeles.
- Received seven publication credits for the Authorworks high school textbooks and CD-ROMs which were created in conjunction with the Library of Congress and Scott Foresman publishers.
- Received three publication credits for work on an educational map project with Rand McNally.
- Volunteers for the annual Visions of Unity contest, Heal the Bay, Save Historic Old Torrance, and several other local charities.
- Kamy is proficient in the English, French, and Persian (Farsi) languages.