Shahnaz Tabatabaei moved to Calgary with her husband in 2019. She is originally from Iran, where she earned a PhD in Psychology and was an Associate Professor for over 10 years. Shahnaz aspires to become a counsellor or practice psychology in the near future.

Shahnaz researched CIWA on social media after a classmate encouraged her to volunteer. She became extremely excited about volunteering when she learned about the breadth and depth of services that CIWA provides to immigrant women. CIWA’s vision, mission, and values are in alignment with her professional career; therefore, she feels like she has found the perfect place to dedicate her time and skills. Shahnaz recalls waiting a while to volunteer as a result of closures due to COVID. She shares that the day she knew she would be able to volunteer is a ‘sweet memory’.

Shahnaz is proud to volunteer and give back to a society and country that provided excellent services to help her and her husband settle in Calgary. She is delighted that her husband is proud of her volunteerism, and he encourages her to be as involved as possible. Shahnaz values all of her volunteer roles and appreciates the different ways she can contribute to the agency while practicing different skills. She is proud to be a volunteer in a female centric agency that makes a difference in the lives of clients.

“Volunteering is an excellent opportunity for to learn about Canadian workplace culture and gain meaningful employment.”

Through CIWA’s Legal Clinic, Shahnaz works with volunteers, clients, and lawyers to improve client experience. As clients often come with complicated family and immigration issues, clients require high quality legal assistance. Shahnaz helps clients feel heard, she completes and corrects intake documents, and assists in the communication between the lawyer and client as an interpreter for Farsi-speakers.

Shahnaz’s empathy shines and emerges in everything she does whether it is in administrative roles and/or workshop support. It enables her to better understand clients and do everything in her power to assist them. In stressful situations, she remains calm, ensures that the client’s concerns are heard, and she works with her co-volunteers to resolve issues. 

Shahnaz was chosen as Volunteer of the Month because of her remarkable dedication, accountability and commitment to all her volunteer roles. She consistently goes over and above the call of duty. She never hesitates take on an extra shift when she is needed. She is always willing to help anyone in need and learns as much as possible in order to give clients the absolute best service possible.

Shahnaz’s hobbies include spending time at a local recreational facility on the weekends with her husband, learning, reading, and listening to music.

To learn more about volunteering at CIWA, visit