In a community replete with success stories, not often are there equally impressive tales of philanthropy. Bita Daryabari changes that.
As a Persian woman who came to the US as an immigrant child, and learned to assimilate under the bitter nightly news of American hostages being held in Iran, and stern gazes from peers who scrutinized me from head to toe as I learned to find my feet in a new homeland, I understand the value of a good support structure.
Bita Daryabari -- an Iranian American who has stepped boldly into the world of philanthropy -- understands that as well. She has founded the Pars Equality Center to serve Iranian immigrants who arrive in California, and desperately need help assimilating in a new world. Daryabari is the former wife of one of Google's founding employees as well as a Silicon Valley giant in her own right. She was among the first innovators to develop fax to email technology and made her own money before becoming the mother of two, and "retiring" as she would put it, to become who she is today.
Her viewpoint, as related to the privilege that life has bestowed on her, is simple: she has made a personal commitment to use her considerable wealth "in the right way and spend it in the right way." That "right way" has led her altruistically to philanthropy, not just through the two organizations she has founded, but through the tangential contributions she makes to the Arts, Humanities, Sciences as well as global education.
Through her Unique Zan Foundation she draws a focus on women and their education in parts of the developing world, through the Iranian American Scholarship Fund and the Yacoobi High School for Girls in Afghanistan. Through the organization's partnerships, she also promotes economic autonomy and enables sustainable development empowering some of the most impoverished women around the globe. Her work extends to children through literacy programs, anti-poverty initiatives and support for orphanages that house some of the most insecure children on earth.
Through the Pars Equality Center, which she founded in Northern California with offices most recently in Southern California, Daryabari helps offer social and legal support for the Iranian American community, including refugees, asylees and immigrants. Her goal is to engage the entire community to become productive and responsible members of American society, and to help new arrivals achieve the same. "Just like any other minority community in this country we should have a voice, and have the Pars Equality Center to back us up," says the 44-year-old philanthropist.
Daryabari has also established the Annual Bita Prize in Literature at Stanford University, supported the Adopt the Arts program in local Public Schools and sponsored the Cyrus Cylinder tour in major American museums throughout 2014. All of this makes Bita Daryabari a power house of a woman in the community. Not only is she an example of a survivor from an immigrant background, but a story of success and a blue print to thrive both in business and in philanthropy. As an entrepreneur and a humanitarian, Daryabari has proven that immigrants can thrive, then give back to their communities in a way that empowers them for future generations. In life and in work, Daryabari has a calling it seems -- a calling to never stop, to not sit on the sidelines, to never give up the ideals of a humanitarian and ultimately a woman -- with the power and the resources to reach out and give back.
This Saturday, September 13, at the Universal Hilton in Hollywood, the Pars Equality Center will have their 1st Annual Los Angeles Gala and Fundraiser to benefit the work of the center. The PEC serves hundreds of immigrants who come to Southern CA on a yearly basis. The center has not been able to serve all the arrivals, but as they grow, they plan to serve an increasing number of immigrants who resort to the center for help in assimilating to life in the US. "The requests are getting more and more frequent, and if we raise more funds and get government grants, then we will be able to help more people," says Daryabari on the lead-up to the LA Gala. Since opening the LA office in September 2013, Pars Equality Center has been able to help about 200 individuals and family members in the SoCal area. "Whether it's for American-born Iranians seeking help with securing employment or applying for college grants -- or supporting the process to bring a dear family member over from Iran, we are here to help the entire community," she adds.
Her notoriety in the Iranian-American community as well as the broader philanthropic circles that applaud global outreach at the level that Bita Daryabari has been able to achieve, promises that the PEC will continue to be an integral part of the philanthropic fabric of Los Angeles.
The Gala on Saturday headlines over 350 influential and VIP guests from LA and the Bay Area. The Gala will feature a live performance by renowned Persian band Black Cats. They were formed in Iran in the mid-1960s, and have performed in iconic arena across the globe. There will be a silent auction as well as music, dancing, raffles, surprise guests and a delicious Persian dinner and desserts. Tickets can be purchased at parsequalitycenter.org, for $175.