“I truly believe that educating the man is educating the individual. But, when you educate women, you educate a nation. And you educate and inform the health of that nation.”

Lily Navab is a third year, double majoring in Business Administration and Public Health at UC Berkeley. While growing up surrounded by women who were determined to combat generational poverty, Lily developed a passion for public health. While combining her interests for Business Administration, Lily aspires to think about poverty and population, which she describes as factors that impact the health of communities across the globe. Specifically, Lily is passionate about providing education, provisional reliefs, healthcare, as well as access to family planning facilities to women who lack these basic necessities.

Born and raised in Burlingame, California, Lily was raised in an Iranian household. As her parents immigrated to San Francisco from Iran, Lily was constantly surrounded by women who were determined to empower underprivileged children while respecting their individuality. Thus, the Iranian tradition of gathering for tea, known as “mehmoones,” eventually transitioned into the development of Mom’s Against Poverty (MAP). While recognizing that orphan care facilities in Iran desperately needed economic support, Lily’s mother and her closest friends created a volunteer non-profit based organization in 2008 that Lily holds dear to her heart.

What Mom’s Against Poverty Stands For

The idea of MAP was originally developed in 2006 in Lily’s household. Thus, as a child, Lily had the opportunity to observe the process behind creating a successful organization; which intrigued her interest in MAP.

Initially, MAP intended to successfully support underprivileged children in Iran. Mom’s Against Poverty has partnered with 16 countries, and has established their most impactful and strongest relationships in Iran, Senegal, Cambodia, and the United States. In these nations, Lily emphasized that MAP has created their strongest partnerships, centers, and schools that are the most withstanding. Although MAP has experienced an exponential amount of growth, Lily believes that the organization’s philosophy is the aspect that grabs the attention of others.

“MAP’s intentions are to spread kindness, and these acts of kindness, no matter how small, have the ability to radically change the life of a child. Our philosophy is to consider empowering underprivileged children while respecting their individuality; which is what I think makes MAP so unique.”

Lily stated that she was further inspired by MAP’s desire to provide children with education, jobs, and leadership roles in hopes to empower them, as well as aid them in understanding their individualism. Lily’s favorite part of the organization is that MAP strives to take an anti-oppressive approach in order to establish long lasting, trustworthy relationships. Hence, MAP’s approach aligns with Lily’s passion, regarding philanthropy and public health.

Memorable Moments

Every year on Thanksgiving Day, Lily has participated in a cherished tradition with her family in order to support MAP as well as her local community. With a holiday basket and turkey in hand, Lily revealed that she visits the Cesar Chavez District to brighten a child’s day, and most importantly, provide them with the gift of the holiday spirit. Although Lily values her tradition, she revealed that as a young child, it was not a simple task.

“Looking at these young children in the eyes, who were virtually the same age as me, was a shocking experience to go through as a kid.”

During these moments, Lily recognized each of the different factors that led to being on different sides of the interaction. Thus, the interaction changed and shifted Lily’s perspective regarding generational poverty, specifically on how some communities in the Bay Area are more susceptible to different qualities of life. “That interaction should have not occurred in the first place,” Navab revealed. Yet, through these experiences, Lily became more aware of generational poverty, and was inspired to strengthen her relationship with the MAP community.

MAP’s Trajectory
“I’ve always been a volunteer – doing all the work that I could within the week as well as weekends. I grew understanding the organization’s mission, and witnessed all the amazing work that has been completed or was in progress.”

In college, Lily described how she developed more skill sets and flexibility, which led to her relationship with MAP shifting in a positive direction. As Covid-19 turned our world upside down, Lily realized that she had the opportunity to utilize her skill-set to make MAP thrive in a remote setting. In March 2020, Lily had the opportunity to speak to MAP’s Board Directors in San Francisco to revamp the organization’s marketing strategies as well as foster an online outreach program.

Initially, the MAP community was fearful of how Covid-19 would impact their ability to spread awareness of their cause, due to the fact that networking events are essential in order to develop personal connections. Moreover, Lily recognized that MAP’s social media presence was lacking, and needed to create more traffic. As a result, Lily was brought onto the marketing team as a social media content creator. “I noticed how we lacked engagement from our user interface, and that realization led to my promotion as the marketing specialist for MAP in 2021,” Lily explained.

As the marketing specialist, Lily had the ability to utilize her knowledge on business to create and post all MAP’s social media content as well as print media. Alongside advancing MAP’s social media platform, Lily focused on marketing the assets and toolkits for individuals who desired to join the organization.

A major networking event that holds great value to MAP are the luxurious Gala’s. Thus, Lily decided to become more involved in planning the event, and became a dedicated member of the behind the scenes team. Specifically, Lily revealed that she focuses on the sponsorship related content. Although she could not attend Gala’s as a young child, Lily revealed that “Gala’s are the benefit approach MAP utilizes in order to create awareness of our cause, as well as raise funds for the organization. I’m really proud of our trajectory, and I plan on being involved with MAP for the rest of my life,” was how Lily described her partnership with the organization.

Lily’s Social Media Campaign

“At first, I was tasked to revamp MAP’s social media platform, however, that led to the creation of the “Likes for Loaves” Campaign.” The “Likes for Loaves” Campaign was designed in order to increase user engagement, as user attention appears to have a heightened value in today’s society. During the campaign, lavash bread was delivered bi-weekly to communities within Iran.

“We were shocked by the traffic generated, as it increased our follower interaction by 97%,” expressed Navab. By assessing user content, Lily was able to create a campaign that significantly increased the connection between users, allowing for MAP to receive a multitude of donations as well as popularity.  “My love for philanthropy and the non-profit space allows me to combine my passion for business to prompt change for women and children in developing nations.” was Lily’s inspiration behind creating “Likes for Loaves.”

Final Remarks

Lily’s passion for business, philanthropy, and public health has been demonstrated by her dedication to MAP. As a young adult, Lily has accomplished the challenging task of aiding an organization as they transition and develop new modes of user interaction and marketing strategies. “Since 2008, Mom’s Against Poverty has provided food, water sanitization, and shelter for 1.2 million children, 380,000 received free education, and 475,000 have received free healthcare;” according to Navab. Through Lily’s story, it is evident how a small, living room gathering can transform into a life-changing organization that improves the lives of millions of individuals.

If you would like to get involved with MAP, contact Lily at lilynavab@berkeley.edu, visit MAP’s website, or follow MAP’s social media platforms.

All pictures and quotations courtesy of Lily Navab.

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