Chamber Insider Blog

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Ferri Riar, Orblynx Academy LLC

 Thank you to Ferri Riar, Founder and CEO of Orblynx Academy LLC and Chair of the Loudoun Coalition on Women and Girls (LCWAG), for answering our questions! Learn more about the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility (DEIA) Committee here.

Where were you born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun? 

I was born in Iran and migrated to the United States in the 1980s when I was still very young. I grew up and received my education primarily in the DMV area, attending school and college. I completed my graduate studies at both Georgetown University and George Washington University. My education background includes a degree in Biophysics and data science, as well as a second degree in Administrative Medicine and Public Policy. In 2014, my family and I moved to Loudoun County to be closer to my husband’s medical practice. We quickly fell in love with the area and its welcoming and supportive community, and it has been our home ever since. 

Tell us about your business, and how long you’ve been in your industry. 

As the founder and CEO of Orblynx Academy LLC, a STEM education company, I am thrilled to lead a team of dedicated professionals who have revolutionized the learning experience. We offer a distinct curriculum that goes beyond traditional workshops and classes, providing students with a personalized learning experience that maximizes their potential while fostering essential collaborative skills. 

Our goal is to empower students of all levels, from middle and high school to college and beyond, to succeed in STEM courses. We are passionate about providing an innovative and engaging approach to learning that leads to increased student engagement, confidence, and retention in the STEM field. Our programs are tailored to meet the individual needs and interests of each student, and we are committed to providing a world-class STEM education to every child in our Loudoun community. 

Alongside my work in STEM education, I am deeply committed to giving back to my community through volunteerism. Since early age, community involvement has been an integral part of my life. I am passionate about community service, and I believe that by working together, we can create a brighter future for everyone in our community. 

 As an active volunteer in various organizations in Loudoun, one group that holds a special place in my heart is Loudoun Coalition on Women and Girls (LCWAG). I have the privilege of serving as the board chair for this non-profit organization, which is committed to advancing leadership skills and creating a more inclusive community for women and girls in Loudoun. Our mission is to promote education, collaboration, and empowerment, and I am proud to be part of a team of dedicated women who share my passion for service. Together, we strive to make a positive impact in the lives of those we serve. 

How did you get into this line of work? 

My passion for science and engineering has been with me throughout my career. With over 20 years of experience in the STEM industry as a biophysicist and research scientist, I have witnessed the significant impact that these fields can have on shaping our society. However, during my time volunteering as a coach for my children’s STEM teams, I noticed a troubling gap in quality STEM education for children, particularly for girls who are underrepresented in the field.

My daughter, Mahsa, who was in 6th grade at the time, was especially interested in STEM but lacked the support, resources, and programs needed to fully explore her passion. This realization inspired me to establish STEM education academy that reimagines learning by providing every child with engaging and hands-on experiences and programs that prepare them for future careers in STEM. I am proud to say that Orblynx Academy has grown significantly and has impacted the lives of hundreds of children, especially girls and students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Loudoun community we serve. By developing essential STEM skills and igniting their curiosity for learning, we aim to bridge the gap in STEM education and empower more young people to pursue careers in these fields. It has been a fulfilling journey, and our incredible team at Orblynx Academy is excited to continue making a difference in the lives of young people through STEM education. 

Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that guided your career? 

My parents have instilled in me values that guide me everyday of my life, including a strong commitment to community service. Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have several mentors and inspirations who have helped shape my career and personal growth. But above all, my mother has been my unwavering lifelong mentor. Her strength, fierce determination, and compassionate heart have consistently motivated me to pursue my passions and give back to our community through volunteer work. Moreover, the unwavering support of my husband, and my three amazing children has allowed me to continue striving for excellence and pursuing my career dreams. I’m deeply grateful for their love and encouragement. With their support, I am confident that I can continue to reach for the stars and make a meaningful difference in the world around me through my work and volunteer efforts. 

What is the best part of your job and why? 

As a research scientist, I am driven by my passion for revolutionizing the way we approach learning. In today’s world, STEM education plays a critical role in equipping young people with the skills they need to tackle future challenges and address global issues. I am proud to be part of a STEM education academy that enables me to make a meaningful impact in the lives of students and contribute to society. 

Our innovative and engaging curriculum and programs inspire students to cultivate a deep-rooted love for science and technology. Building an enriching STEM education is both exhilarating and challenging, but witnessing students develop a genuine passion for STEM and continue their education is unparalleled. Our flagship program, STEM for girls, has extended its reach to underrepresented communities, and seeing the positive impact it has on so many young women is incredibly rewarding. The sight of students’ beaming faces and their newfound inspiration is truly fulfilling and reinforces our commitment to making a difference. 

In addition to my work of running STEM education academy, volunteering and community service are integral part of my life. As a chair of LCWAG, a non-profit organization devoted to empowering women and girls in our community, I collaborate with a team of remarkable women who share my zeal for making a positive impact. Together, we address a range of challenges faced by women in Loudoun County, from health and safety to education and employment connections. Knowing that our efforts are making a tangible, meaningful difference in the lives of women and girls in our community is immensely gratifying. 

What is it like doing business in Loudoun? 

Operating my business in Loudoun County has provided us with numerous advantages, from access to a highly skilled workforce to a supportive business environment and top-notch infrastructure. Thanks to the county’s vast resources, our business has flourished. Loudoun County’s rich blend of industries, ranging from technology to healthcare, has played a vital role in advancing our STEM education initiatives and programs. By Offering access to a diverse workforce, as well as a wealth of educational resources and outreach programs, Loudoun County has helped us make significant strides in promoting STEM education and making a positive STEM learning impact in the community we serve. We’re grateful to be part of this thriving business community and for the many benefits that Loudoun County has provided us. 

What does Women’s History Month mean to you? 

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the diversity of women’s experiences and identities, and to highlight the unique challenges that women of different backgrounds and communities face. For me, as an Iranian American, this month holds particular significance to me, as I’ve witnessed the additional barriers and obstacles Iranian women in Iran face while striving to fulfill their aspirations and make their mark on society. Women’s History Month offers a moment of reflection on the strides made in advancing women’s rights and equality, while acknowledging the work that still needs to be done. It is a time to listen and amplify the voices of women, and to work together to create a more just and equitable world for all. 

As we observe and pay tribute to Women’s History Month, it would be remiss of me not to recognize the valuable work that we do here at Loudoun Coalition on Women and Girls (LCWAG). Our commitment to honoring the accomplishments of women throughout history extends far beyond this designated month. We are dedicated to celebrating the remarkable contributions of Loudoun’s brave and resolute women who have paved the way for future generations. We strive to inspire and empower young girls and women to pursue their passions and achieve their goals, continuing the legacy of progress and advancement in the ongoing struggle for gender equality. 

Favorite things to do when you are not working?

When I am not working, I love spending quality time with my husband and our three wonderful children. Whether it’s cooking a meal together, playing board games or going out for a walk, being with my family is always a great way to recharge my batteries. I’m also an avid reader, and I enjoy diving into a good book whenever I have the chance. Running is another passion of mine. There’s something about being in nature that’s incredibly calming and energizing. I’m also fortunate to have a large circle of friends, and spending time with them is always a highlight of my free time. I love being surrounded by people who bring joy and laughter into my life. 

Check out Orblynx Academy’s website here