A Hand-Up for the Iranian Community: The Work of Bita Daryabari

“I feel the community is uniting more, putting differences aside, working together, and slowly learning that we all have to give to those in need.”

Bita Daryabari is the kind of woman that leaves a mark on everything she touches. Her passion and drive for philanthropic service is omnipresent, and the fruits of her labor are tangible and without match.  Most recently, Ms. Daryabari has elevated UC Davis’ Persian Studies program to leadership standards with the establishment of the Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Persian Language and Literature.  Senses Cultural is honored to draw attention to the focused work of PARS Equality Center founder and silicon valley philanthropist, Ms. Bita Daryabari.

Ms. Daryabari began her career with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, followed by a masters’ in Telecommunication Management.  This education led to a successful career working first for Gammalink Inc, an early telecommunications company, and later for MCI Communications, where she quickly earned industry accolades.  Although these accomplishments are impressive, her best work began when she changed focus to help women with furthering education, created resources for newly immigrated families, and worked tirelessly to empower her own Iranian-American community.

Ms. Daryabari’s first foray into educating and supporting women started in 2006, when she founded the Unique Zan Foundation.  Almost 10 years after it’s conception, Unique Zan has helped to empower countless women of Middle Eastern and Muslim communities through education and health initiatives, as well as issuing grants for non-profits with the same mission.  Through this work, she notes, she realized that “we had a need also for hands on service to our community here in the U.S.”

Perhaps her most easily recognized contribution to the Iranian-American community, however, is the founding of the PARS Equality Center, which first opened its doors in San Jose and later expanded to Menlow Park, CA. PARS Equality Center’s main mission is to provide legal and social assistance for Iranian and Farsi-speaking immigrants, with the goal of assimilating smoothly into American culture.  This sort of assistance often comes in the form of ESL classes, assitance with paperwork or writing a resume, or simply providing a community base for older Iranian-Americans.  The PARS Equality Center also works to keep Iranian-Americans informed on issues that affect their lives directly, such as participation in the US Census or of the recent HR 158 bill.  Ms. Daryabari notes that this work is extremely rewarding, and that “I have spoken to several seniors who have attended philosophy workshops or meditation classes and told me that now they are alive with energy and not depressed or inactive”.

The result of PARS Equality Center’s work is felt throughout Southern California, and the effects trickle into every aspect of the Iranian-American experience. “I feel the community is uniting more, putting differences aside, [and] working together”, says Ms. Daryabari, and that she hopes all members of society are  “slowly learning that we all have to give to those in need.”

Although based in California, her work extends well past the US borders – Ms. Daryabari has built an all-girls school in Kabul, as well contributed to building a women’s center in Palestine.  She has created a safe-haven of information for newly immigrated Iranians in California, built a community of support of aging Iranian-Americans, and extended the limits of education and health services for women living in the Middle East.  Senses Cultural supports her past and future work fully, and is excited to see what is next on the horizon for Ms. Daryabari’s philanthropic career.

by Silvana Gargione!

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