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Shervin Pishevar Awards Cyrus Prize to Dropbox Co-Founder at Bita Daryabari's 4th Annual Pars Equality Center Nowruz Gala


Press Release by Pars Equality Center (photos by Kimberly White/WireImage)

Gala Raises Funds for Bay Area & Los Angeles Community Programs

San Francisco (March 12, 2014) - On Saturday night, March 8, 2014, Pars Equality Center (PEC) and more than 800 guests celebrated its 4th Annual Nowruz Gala in honor of the Persian New Year at San Francisco’s Marriott Waterfront Burlingame Hotel.  The nearly $500,000.00 in funds raised at this popular yearly event will go towards the continued funding of the Center’s social and legal programs in both the Bay area and Los Angeles, as well as helping PEC’s expansion into additional U.S. markets.  A special highlight at this year’s gala was Uber investor and PEC advisory board member Shervin Pishevar (Sherpa Ventures) awarding his $100k genius grant, dubbed the “Cyrus Prize,” to Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi.

Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi accepting Shervin Pishevar's Cyrus Prize. Pishever and Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston in background.

Pishevar said, “I’m looking for Iranian geniuses around the world to show the brilliance within our culture and shine a light on it. I believe deeply that Dropbox is the next Microsoft of our era.  Arash [Ferdowsi] is one of the great Persian minds, and he is re-architecting our world, along with his co-founder Drew Houston.  Dropbox is now used by a quarter of a billion people around the world and valued at 10 billion dollars.”

Shervin Pishevar awarding his first Cyrus Prize to Arash Ferdowsi.

PEC executive director and founder Bita Daryabari addressed the guests, saying, “Our community foundation has had its most productive year since we began our work in 2010. Our work is now more focused, our support more broad and the number of people we serve is larger than ever.  During the last year, we received a three-year grant from the Federal government, as well as grants from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Santa Clara County for Parental Education. We also launched the mentoring program, Pars Youth Grant / The American Dream, which is awarded to graduating high school students in California that are in need of college financial assistance”


This year’s gala kicked off at 6:30 p.m. and featured a live performance by renowned Iranian singer and recording artist Leila Forouhar.  Iranian-American comedian and actor Maz Jobrani served as Master of Ceremonies and emceed a live auction with items, such as a beautiful Chopard men's watch, courtesy of Shapur Mozaffarian Fine Jewelers of San Francisco, as well as stunning artwork by renowned artists such as Hessam Abrishami, Parviz Tanavoli and Ala Ebtekar.  Tanavoli’s “Blue Heech” sculpture was sold for $16,000.

Daryabari added, “We have had another incredible year of growth and development for the Pars Equality Center.  We celebrated the opening of the first Los Angeles location-the third office opening in three years-and we are excited to continue expanding into new markets to serve even more members of the community.”

Dr. Reza Malek with wife Bita Daryabari.

The event hosted VIPs from the Bay Area, including many from the local Iranian-American community.  VIPs in attendance included philanthropist and PEC founder/executive director Bita Daryabari, San Jose Councilmember Sam Liccardo, Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston, Historian and author Dr. Abbas Milani (Stanford University), Shahab Moradian (Morgan Stanley), Gail and Naryman Teymourian, Reza Farahan (“Shahs of Sunset”), Ralph Dickman (City National Bank), film director Bahram Beyzaie, Shapur Mozaffarian, Farzad Naimi (Rona Holdings), Pejman NozadFrancis Najafi (Pivotal Group), Abdi Soltani (ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California)Mathew Zaheri (Zaheri Dealer Group), Siamak Ghahremani (Noor Iranian Film Festival), Reza Obadaee (PEC Social Services), Nazy Fahimi (PEC Legal Director), amongst many others.

Bita Daryabari and the 94-year old Mrs. Moghadam (mother of Hamid Moghadam - who created the Stanford endowment for the Program in Iranian Studies), who comes every year to this event.


A moving and inspirational video about PEC’s work was played to the packed ballroom:


This year’s PEC partners and sponsors included: Almo Construction, Avid Bank, Baker Street Advisors, ICI Homes, Iran Heritage Foundation, Kaveh Nikpour Photography & Video, Lorenz Baumer Jewelers, Mathew Zaheri Dealer Group, Teymourian Family Foundation, Shapur Mozaffarian Fine Jewelers, Morgan Stanley, Paravati Construction, Francis Najafi of Pivotal Foundation, PAAIA, Plug & Play Tech Center,, RONA Holdings, Samaneh Tahbazof, Shervin Pishevar, Bobby Sarnevesht, Maryam Khosravani of IAWF, Azy Hariri of ISF, Ron Conway, Autobahn Motors, and designer Lily Samii, among others.

About Pars Equality Center

Founded by Bita Daryabari in 2010, the Pars Equality Center (PEC) is a non-profit organization, and the first of its kind, supporting the full integration of people of Persian (Iranian) origin in the United States.  PEC provides social and legal support for all members of the Iranian-American community, including refugees, asylees, immigrants and the American-born.  The Center advocates for more positive perceptions of Persians in the U.S. media, while offering services and programs that help establish, integrate and support Iranian-Americans so that they are able to function responsibly and productively in American society.  Daryabari’s aim is to create a more just and compassionate community in which Iranians of all cultures and beliefs can participate. Based in Menlo Park, PEC opened its second office in San Jose in April 2012, and opened its third location in Los Angeles in September 2013.  For more information, please visit

About the Cyrus Prize

Sherpa Ventures investor Shervin Pishevar created the $100k “Cyrus Prize” genius grant for Iranian innovators.   The prize is named after the Persian King and inventor, Cyrus the Great.  The first prize was awarded to Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi.

More photos of the event:

Guests admire the traditional Haft Sin display, representing the Persian New Year.

Host and emcee Maz Jobrani kept guests laughing during the live auction.

Bita Daryabari with San Jose Councilmember Sam Liccardo.

Left to right - Dropbox co-founders Arash Ferdowsi, Drew Houston and entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar.

Angel investor Pejman Nozad and wife.

Shapur Mozaffarian (Shapur Mozaffarian Fine Jewelers) and Bita Daryabari.

Drew Houston (dropbox co-founder), Shervin Pishevar (Sherpa Ventures) and his brother at the live auction.

Volunteers checking in guests for the Gala.

Guests admire art that was auctioned in a silent and live auction.

City National Bank's Ralph Dickman (center) with guests.

Host and emcee Maz Jobrani (blue shirt center) with guests from the Gala

Guests attend the 4th Annual Pars Equality Center Gala.

Francis Najafi (Pivotal Group), Dionne Najafi, Leila Ghaffani, Shaygan Kheredpir and and Abdi Soltani (ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California) pose for a photograph at the PARS Equality Center 4th Annual Nowruz Gala at Marriott Waterfront Burlingame Hotel on March 8, 2014 in Burlingame, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/WireImage)

Bita Daryabari with guests as they arrive for the silent auction at the beginning of the evening.

Entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar with his father and brother.

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