Maria Cisne Farahani of Austin is an advocate for women’s health issues and educational opportunities for youth in the United States and Central America.
Born in Nicaragua to a third-generation coffee-growing family, Maria is cofounder of Fara Coffee and cofounder and executive director of its philanthropic arm, Fara Foundation. The foundation operates Fara Clinic in her home town of Matagalpa.
A frequent flyer between Austin and Matagalpa, Maria helps oversee operations of the clinic along with her sister Marcela Cisne, director of Fara Foundation/Nicaragua. The clinic‘s primary focus is the prevention, early detection and treatment of cervical cancer, a leading killer of Nicaraguan women over age 30. The staff of 10 also emphasizes breast cancer awareness and prevention, general preventative health care and dental services and provides outreach programs to coffee farmers and rural workers who lack access to basic medical care.
Maria has been a driving force behind the clinic, coordinating and expanding Fara Foundation’s visiting-physician missions in Nicaragua. Since it opened in winter of 2010, Fara Clinic | Clinica Fara and its medical staff and guest doctors from around the world have treated more than 10,000 patients for issues ranging from varicose vein disease to visual and hearing impairments to breast and cervical cancer. The clinic has emerged as the main referral hub for cervical cancer patients in northern Nicaragua and has become a renowned center for positive health and lifestyle advocacy.
Maria received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies (now LLILAS) from the University of Texas at Austin. In May of 2012, she was the Distinguished Alumni speaker at LLILAS’s graduate commencement ceremonies.
Manny Farahani, President
Manny Farahani is managing partner of ASC Management Services, president of Fara Coffee and cofounder and president of Fara Foundation. He holds a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
For many years, Manny has supported the works of KIPP-Austin, a branch of the national Knowledge Is Power Program of charter schools; the Kozmetsky Center for Child Protection; Infancia Sin Fronteras; the University of Texas Latin American Studies program; Rhodes College in Memphis; Grounds for Health in Vermont; and St. Stephens School in Austin. He is also a supporter of the Andy Roddick Foundation.
Manny founded Fara Clinic | Clinica Fara in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, purchasing the building in which the clinic is located and rapidly completing the health center’s construction in 2010. It opened to the public in winter of 2010, and by summer of 2012, the facility was expanded another 2,000 square feet, illustrating the organization’s growth and the great need for additional medical care in the region.
The foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Austin, Texas. Manny and Maria Farahani have two children and reside in Austin.
Nasrin Farahani, Treasurer
Nasrin has an extensive background in charitable giving. Since the mid-1990s, she has supported Children International, UNICEF, the American Cancer Society and CARE and has been recognized by Who is Who of Texas.
Nasrin received her Master of Business Administration degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin and holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Tehran.
Since moving from Iran to Austin in 1994, Nasrin has focused her personal energy on improving the lives of children.
“I believe that by changing children’s and women’s lives, you change family society — and eventually the future. Also, I support women-in-business programs, because if women can get an education and become more aware, they are able to pass it on to their children. That makes an entire society better.”
Steve Bowers is an Austin attorney with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
A longtime friend and colleague of Manny and Maria Farahani, Steve has been involved with Fara Foundation since its inception.
“I believe in what Manny and Maria are doing in their efforts to give back to the Nicaraguan community. I’ve personally visited Nicaragua with them and have seen the clinic and the good work that the foundation is doing.”
Steve is impressed with the in-roads Fara Foundation has made in health care, in particular women’s health care: “I think that the most important work they’re doing right now is in their cervical cancer outreach. The disease can be treated with early detection, and the foundation can really save lives.”
Steve is also an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin. His charitable works include support of the Helping Hand Home in Austin, a residence for at-risk children that emphasizes education and school attendance.
Terrance A. Reese
Terrance is a real estate leasing specialist for ASC, Inc. who brings a passion for philanthropy to his position on Fara Foundation’s Board of Directors.
He volunteers for CASA Travis and the Kozmetsky Center for Child Protection and has worked with Project Transitions in the Austin area. Since 2008, he has sponsored a a child from Mexico, Roberto.
Terrance has a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Learning and Development, with a speech specialization from the University of Texas at Austin.
“I have always tried to stay involved with charitable organizations. My primary focus is on those that concentrate on building and sustaining foundations for children who endure substandard conditions,” he says.
Terrance feels strongly about the work Fara Foundation does in Nicaragua. “I like the fact that in such a short time, the foundation has been able to help so many people who have, or would have, gone without medical care. With improved education there, the level of health awareness is increased and preventative care becomes routine instead of being an after-thought – or worse, an emergency situation – for the patient… As a former teacher, I know that I can help improve the quality of education currently being offered in Nicaragua.”
Dr. Biel has served in Nicaragua since 2007. He helped design the FARA Clinic. He has been to Nicaragua on multiple occasions. Originally he was on the board of Austin Samaritans and is now happy to serve the people of Nicaragua through the FRA FOundation.
He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Biel founded the Elgin Medical center in 1979. He brings that experience to help improve primary care in the FARA Clinic.
“It has been amazing for me to see the progress that has been made in Nicaragua particularly in screening for cervical and breast cancer. I have personally observed the doctors in action at the clinic and find they do a remarkable job. Man women’s lives have been impacted. This has been a dream come true for me to be able to help those with such great need. Many of those seen have never been to a doctor.”