Mahtob Mahmoody was born in Texas in 1979 on the cusp of the Iranian revolution and in the midst of a hurricane. Her parents were an American woman from a small Midwestern town and an Iranian-born but American-educated doctor. A life that began amid storms and conflict seemed destined to continue in such.
In 1984, at the age of four, just weeks before she was set to begin school in Michigan, her father, Moody, insisted on taking his family to his homeland for what he promised would be a two-week vacation. Her mom knew the risks. Fearing if she refused to go Moody would kidnap Mahtob and knowing the American legal system of the day would offer no protection, Betty Mahmoody agreed to the trip.
Once in Iran, the unspeakable became a reality. “You’re in my country. Now you’ll abide by my rules. You are in Iran until you die.” With that rant, Moody transformed Betty Mahmoody and Mahtob Mahmoody from tourists into prisoners. For eighteen months they endured Moody’s brutal captivity. They were eighteen months filled with savage beatings. Eighteen months filled with almost daily Iraqi air raids. Eighteen months filled with quiet desperation, perseverance, faith and a never-ending hope of escape.
The Pulitzer-Prize nominated, internationally best-selling book, “Not Without My Daughter,” written by her mother after their miraculous escape, recounts the horrors of those eighteen months and their unimaginable journey to freedom. “Not Without My Daughter” was made into a major motion picture starring Academy Award winner, Sally Field and Alfred Molina.
Since 2002 when she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Michigan State University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Mahtob Mahmoody has worked in the realm of the mental health industry. Her passion lies not in clinical practice, but rather in raising public awareness and garnering community support for health and wellness initiatives. Her advocacy work in the mental health field has allowed her to practice event planning, marketing, fund development, team building, writing and graphic design. In addition to that, she has worked through the medical and legal systems to ensure patients’ rights are upheld during mental health hospitalizations.
Mahtob Mahmoody, on her own, and in tandem with her mom, has spent much of her life sharing her message of hope and inspiration with audiences throughout the world. She is a harbinger of peace not hatred, of forgiveness not bitterness, of celebrating the good AND the bad experiences in life that mold our character. Drawing the best from her Iranian and her American heritage, Mahtob employs anecdotes from her life to illustrate the beauty of a multi-cultural existence.
The once painfully shy child is silent no longer. Now her voice manifests itself anew as she recounts the experiences of her life in her debut book “My Name is Mahtob”.