On Saturday night, March 9, 2013, Pars Equality Center’s (PEC) celebrated its 3rd Annual Nowruz Gala in honor of the Persian New Year at the Santa Clara Marriott in Santa Clara, CA. 770 guests gathered to raise awareness and $315,000 in funds for the Center’s social and legal programs, as well as support its expansion into additional U.S. markets.
PEC executive director and founder Bita Daryabari said in her welcome speech, "I invite and encourage you, as I do every year, to come together and help our community become as strong as we deserve it to be. No help or effort is too small or insignificant. If we are united, and dedicated, then no goal or mission is beyond our reach. Let’s build our community together. Together and united we are as strong as our remarkable accomplishments."
This year’s Gala featured a live performance by renowned Armenian-Iranian pop singer and songwriter Andy Madadian, along with the musical talents of Shany Rigsbee. Actor Houshang Touzie (“Argo”) and Farhang Foundation’s Bita Milanian served as Masters of Ceremony, facilitating a spirited live auction that featured items, including Primetime Emmy Awards tickets, a Ritz-Carlton escape package and a Chopard watch.
A moving and inspiration video about PEC’s work was played to the packed ballroom.
The event hosted VIPs from the Bay Area, including many from the local Iranian-American community. VIPs in attendance include philanthropist and PEC founder/executive director Bita Daryabari, designer Lily Samii, Nahal Iravani-Sani (San Jose City Planning Commission), Historian and author Dr. Abbas Milani (Stanford University), Homa Sarshar (Center for Iranian, Creative Arts), Larry Frye (Rocky Mountain Wealth Concepts), Lori Brown (Cartier), Yann LeConte (Cartier), Tim Baughman (Citi Private Bank), Shahab Moradian (Morgan Stanley), Rasoul Oskouy (Silicon Valley Foundation), Gail and Naryman Teymourian, Farzad Naimi (Rona Holdings), Persian storyteller Gordafarid, artist and sculptor Rebecca Setareh, Siamak Ghahremani (Noor Iranian Film Festival), Reza Moini (Persian Cultural Foundation), Reza Obadaee (PEC Social Services), Nazy Fahimi (PEC Legal Director), amongst many others.
A silent auction featuring a wide range of paintings (valued from $750 - $6,000) from local renowned artists was held as appetizers were served by Michi Catering. A traditional Persian dinner was served by Malek’s Catering with an array of delectable desserts by Bijan Bakery and C’est Si Bon Bakery.
Awards were presented to the Pars Equality Center’s volunteer staff for outstanding service to the community. Recipients of the honors were: Dr. Nazila Doroodian, Cyrus Golkar, Mitra Mahdavi, Dr. Karim Malek, Mojgan Momeni, Hojr Sedaghat-Pisheh, Cheryl Tombrink and Cathy Zaeni.
Certificates of Appreciation went to Ms. Soudabeh Aliabadi from Cocola Bakery for hiring and training more than five new immigrants last year, as well as PEC staff members Shadee Amirkiai and Arya Daryabary. Two Employees of the Year were named: Bahman Daryabary and Fataneh Shahami Gohar. Special recognition also went to PEC outreach manager Goli Ghorashi and Gala Chair Laleh Kazemi.
PEC partners and sponsors included Almo Construction Company, Atherton Dental, Avid Bank, Baker Street Advisors, Graff, de Grisogono, Cartier, Center for Iranian Creative Arts (CICA), HealthEZ, ICI Homes, Iran Heritage Foundation, Kaveh Nikpour Photography & Video, Mathew Zaheri Dealer Group, Mazda Publishers, Morgan Stanley, Parvati Construction, Inc., PAAIA, Pivotal Foundation, PlugandPlayTechCenter.com, Rafter.com, Rona Holdings LLC, Ron Conway, Shapur Jewelry, and Tasvir Inc., among many others.
Nowruz is officially observed on March 20, 2013.
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 is currently planning expansion into the Los Angeles market. The LA office, located in Westwood, is slated to open April 1, 2013.