PARSA CF Philanthropist: Bita Daryabari a Global Force for Women's Empowerment
PARSA Community Foundation
Bita Daryabari is a philanthropist who thinks and acts both globally and
locally. Growing up in Iran in a family that valued philanthropy and providing a
hand to those less fortunate, Daryabari fondly remembers that "if a beggar
knocked on the door at lunch time, my grandfather would refuse to eat unless the
beggar was invited in to eat with the family." Now based in California, the
ethics that Daryabari grew up with have instilled in her a sense of joy to be in
a position where she can give to others and help those living in poverty.
With a B.S. in Computer Science from California State University, Hayward and an
M.S. in Telecommunications Management from Golden Gate University, Daryabari
carved out a successful career in the telecommunications industry. Though she
became a leader in her industry, Daryabari's childhood experiences continued to
inspire her and in 2006, she founded the
Unique Zan Foundation (UZF), a
nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women's health and education by
providing them with opportunities to promote positive change in their
Daryabari's experiences of growing up in the Middle East propelled her to
champion women's causes: "When you educate a woman, you educate a family, and
eventually the entire community will be educated," says Daryabari. Through her
work at UZF, Daryabari founded the
Bita Daryabari Scholarship for Women in
Economics at The HAND Foundation in 2007 and the funding of a women's center in
Palestine in cooperation with Relief International (a PARSA CF grantee) in 2008.
Also in 2008, Daryabari bestowed $2.5 million to Stanford University for the
Bita Daryabari Endowment for Persian Studies.
Recently, Daryabari has also backed philanthropic projects benefiting
Afghanistan with the Afghan Institute of Learning (also a PARSA CF grantee) and
Turquoise Mountain Foundation. Through the Afghan Institute of Learning, UZF is
supporting the building of a girls' school in Afghanistan, which is slated to
open in 2010. UZF is also supporting Afghan, Pakistani and Iranian artists to
bring their exhibitions to the Biennale in Venice, Italy, by providing funding
to the Turquoise Mountain Foundation. By supporting artists from this region,
UZF aims to increase cross-cultural understanding.
While many of Daryabari's philanthropic passions have an international reach,
much of her strategic giving is also locally-based in California. Each year,
Daryabari holds an annual essay competition in collaboration with the San
Diego-based Iranian-American Scholarship Fund in order to benefit female
Iranian-American students. Daryabari also conducts fundraising to support the
work of the San Francisco-based National Legal Sanctuary for Community
Advancement, a PARSA CF grantee that is dedicated to ensuring the human rights
of Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian peoples.
One of Daryabari's greatest areas of interest is health issues, and in
particular, incurable diseases. As a Visionary Circle Member of the X Prize
Foundation, she has been active in the Archon X Prize for Genomics, which
challenges scientists to create better ways to sequence genomes. Additionally,
Daryabari has funded The Parkinson's Institute and the University of California,
San Francisco in advancing neurological research. UZF is also active in
providing grants to promote breast cancer awareness and research through the
Palo Alto-based Community Breast Health Project.
A woman as accomplished as Daryabari is not without her inspiration. She lists
Zainab Salib, the founder of Women for Women International Foundation and
humanitarian Zohre Elahian, whom Daryabari describes as "our Iranian Mother
Teresa" as examples of women to admire. Emily Greene Balch, the president of the
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is also a source of
inspiration for Daryabari. Lastly, she lists Parveen Aghanger of Kashmir, who,
driven by the disappearance of her son, formed the Association of Parents of
Displaced Persons to fight the human rights abuses that results in the abduction
Though Daryabari is limitless in her support and passion for advancing Iranian
causes, she encourages the Iranian community to learn lessons from the success
of others: "I would like our Persian community to learn from the Jewish, Indian
and Chinese communities: their unity and togetherness is admirable. They seem to
always lend a hand to each other without any type of agenda or expectations.
Their love for building a community and supporting each other is very unique."
Through Daryabari's tireless philanthropy and the inspiration she instills in
others, the Iranian community is taking one big step closer towards that goal.
... Payvand News - 09/10/09 ... --