Executive Director Thor Steingraber Remembers Younes Nazarian

Executive Director Thor Steingraber Remembers Younes Nazarian

I am joined by President Erika D. Beck in sharing the news that we have lost a revered and beloved member of our community — Younes Nazarian. The namesakes of the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, Mr. and Mrs. Nazarian, along with their entire family, invested generously in CSUN.  At the time, their gift to the performing arts center was the largest ever received by CSUN.   

President Beck noted the tremendous impact he had on the university.  Her words ring with warmth and admiration: “His legacy, represented by The Soraya, affirms our inherent connectedness, attuning our hearts and minds to what really matters – our humanity.”

Younes Nazarian and his family rebuilt their lives in Los Angeles after fleeing the revolution in Iran, events that shaped his steadfastness in the face of adversity as well as his commitment to support others, like himself, who had confronted hardship.  From this, Younes Nazarian came to guide a family of philanthropists who placed their values of education and the arts at the forefront of serving communities who might otherwise lack access to either.

Above all, the dedication and closeness of his family stands to define Younes Nazarian. He was always surrounded by children, grand-children, and his wife of 61 years, Soraya Sarah Nazarian.  When being in the presence of their tight-knit clan, it was clear that he was the inextinguishable ember.  

When first getting to know Mr. Nazarian, I could count on him to ask difficult questions. More than offering a challenge, this was his way of extending an invitation — he delighted in testing ideas and interests and finding common ground.  A glint in his eye offered assurances, and the conversation inevitably ended with a broad smile and a firm handshake. What an honor it is to come to work every day in the performing arts center that bears the name of Younes Nazarian, to welcome thousands of people to performances every month, and to carry forward his vision and legacy.

Read more about the Nazarian’s transformational gift to our performing arts center here.

Nazarian Family

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Thor Steingraber with Soraya Sarah and Younes Nazarian

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The Nazarian Family with Leilah Broukhim (standing fourth from left)