ANCA-WR Gala Gathers Over 1,000 Supporters of the Armenian Cause

Over 1,000 supporters were present in celebrating Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s accomplishments

Over 1,000 supporters celebrated Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s accomplishments on October 16, 2016 in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES—On Sunday, October 16, a stellar gathering of more than 1,000 supporters that included over 80 local, state, and federal elected officials from the Western United States, community leaders, and Academic Award-winning director Terry George and his team from the upcoming film “The Promise,” celebrated Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s (ANCA-WR) accomplishments and honored Congressman Brad Sherman, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the late Varoujan Koundakjian, California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, Coach Steve Kerr and the Kerr Family, and German Parliament Member Cem Ozdemir and the German Bundestag.

A special recognition and presentation was also made to and by filmmakers of the newly-completed Armenian Genocide-era film, “The Promise,” which included a short clip from the film with behind-the-scenes footage compiled especially for the event.

Nora Hovsepian, Esq., Chair of the ANCA-Western Region

Nora Hovsepian, Esq., Chair of the ANCA-Western Region

“In the year following the Armenian Genocide Centennial, many were worried that our community’s passion for the Armenian Cause would wane. The success of our Gala Banquet, with over 1000 grassroots supporters and dozens of elected officials, proved the opposite. We find inspiration in the community’s positive response to our efforts, and we are strongly committed to using all our resources to ramp up our pursuit of the goals we all share for our common Cause,” stated Nora Hovsepian, Esq., Chair of the ANCA-Western Region.

Held at the iconic Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the event began at 4:30pm with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and a VIP reception with major donors and elected officials. A three-course dinner followed at 6pm with a powerful program and presentation of awards kicked off by the national anthems performed by Payla Kevorkian accompanied on piano by Alex Berberian.

Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, conducted the invocation for the evening.

ANCA-WR Gala Committee Chair Lina Davidian, Esq., welcoming guests

ANCA-WR Gala Committee Chair Lina Davidian, Esq., welcoming guests

Following the prayer, 2016 ANCA-WR Gala Committee Chair Lina Davidian, Esq., welcomed guests and thanked all those that made the inspiring evening possible. In her remarks, Davidian noted how many had traveled to Los Angeles for the event, including a gentleman from South Dakota who cared much about the cause and wanted to connect to his Armenian roots.

As the room went dark, on-screen came a powerful video presentation showcasing the tangible accomplishments of ANCA-Western Region grassroots in 19 states in the year 2016.

At the end of the video presentation, Hovsepian made a powerful delivery of the organization’s message, and opened her remarks by thanking all the guests, Davidian, and her devoted team of committee volunteers who made the successful evening possible.

In her remarks, Hovsepian acknowledged the large number of endorsed candidates attending the Gala and described how the ANCA’s endorsement decisions are based on a screening process and a record of commitment to the goals of the Armenian-American constituency.

Hovsepian then moved to provide attendees with details of the organization’s expansion efforts in 2016, which included the opening of the first western region satellite office in Denver, Colorado, a tour of the region that resulted in new local chapters in places like Twin Falls, Idaho, the expansion of its Hye Votes voter registration and GOTV initiative, as well as region-wide advocacy days, and outlined the organization’s priorities for the coming year in mobilizing local chapters, expanding internship programs, and initiating a fundraising campaign.

She concluded her remarks calling on all attendees “to see the potential of our strength, to dedicate yourselves to our Cause, to stand strong and stand proud with our compatriots who are in crisis, in Syria, in Artsakh, in Turkey, and in Armenia; to fight injustice against our People no matter where they are; to run toward what seems to be impossible and to make it real. Activate by joining your local ANCA chapter. Sign up for $50 per month. Register as a Rapid Responder. Volunteer. Vote. Act and make your voice heard. … The umbrella is the ANCA. Come and join those who not only believe in and appreciate justice, but those who fight for it.”

Her call to action echoed across the room as she asked all attendees, and especially the elected officials, to fight for the Armenian Cause by using mass media to spread our message calling for justice from both Turkey and Azerbaijan: “As a community, we must dare to be bold. We must dare to be demanding, to stand up for our rights and for what’s right. We must clearly articulate our expectations and demand accountability for promises unkept. We must make our collective voices heard – through the ballot box, the media, on the streets and in the halls of government.”

ANCA-WR Board Members Ashod Mooradian, Esq. (right) and Berdj Karapetian (left) presented the 2016 ANCA WR Man of the Year award to California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

ANCA-WR Board Members Ashod Mooradian, Esq. (right) and Berdj Karapetian (left) presented the 2016 ANCA WR Man of the Year award to California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Following Hovsepian, ANCA-WR Board Members Ashod Mooradian, Esq.  and Berdj Karapetian presented the 2016 ANCA WR Man of the Year award to California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson for his strong leadership and ongoing commitment to forcefully defending and advancing issues critical to Armenians worldwide and his staunch support in ensuring that Armenian Genocide education is properly taught to future generations in the California public school system.

In introducing Torlakson, Mooradian noted, “As Superintendent, Tom Torlakson has remained a true champion for educating future generations about the Armenian Genocide and other crimes against humanity. Over the last two years, Superintendent Torlakson has worked hand-in-hand with the ANCA Western Region Education Committee and the Genocide Education Project to ensure the incorporation of language about the Armenian Genocide in the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which was unanimously passed on July 14 by the California Board of Education.

“Many would be content to rest on the laurels of this historic accomplishment, but not Superintendent Torlakson. Currently, Superintendent Torlakson is working with publishers to incorporate language about the Armenian Genocide in textbooks used in classrooms across the Golden State. And because this is Tom Torlakson we are talking about everyone here knows he will not rest until there is universal acceptance of the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in every textbook used in this State,” he continued.

Torlakson began his acceptance speech by noting that the accomplishments were truly a team effort between the ANCA-WR leadership, education committee and his liaison to the Armenian community Murad Minassian. “Yes, after 10 years we moved and pushed, we finally got into the framework, the standards that we will teach the truth about the Armenian Genocide.” Torlakson went on to note that the team will now work with textbook publishing companies to incorporate the Armenian Genocide and the American response to the Genocide through the Near East Relief in the 10th and 11th grade history books.

“Our goal is to have it throughout the state as mentioned, but to have it around the nation. We are going to be reaching out to the Superintendents of the other 49 states and to the publishers across this nation to make sure this story is told nationwide in our schools.”

As attendees took their seats after giving Torlakson a standing ovation, ANCA-WR Board Member Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian presented the organization’s highest award to Turkic Member of the German Parliament Cem Ozdemir, as well as the entire German Bundestag, for their courage in resisting pressure from the government of Turkey to introduce and pass a resolution formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide as well as Germany’s complicity in this crime against humanity. In her remarks, Zerounian-Khanzadian noted, “630. That’s the number of members of the German Bundestag. Mr. Ozdemir attained a majority of votes out of 630 members of Parliament, standing up against threats both to his government and himself, and relieving his government of the gag rule Turkey had imposed on them. The U.S. Congress is comprised of 435 members, 195 less than the Bundestag, yet the Speaker of our House of Representatives and speakers before him have cowered at the idea of bringing the Armenian Genocide to a floor vote. Our Presidents have cowered behind cheap excuses, refusing to address the issue of the Armenian Genocide. But what they have truly refused to do is take the red tape off on their mouths and speak truth to Justice.  When the coup took place and President Erdogan used excessive force, The White House did not reprimand or comment, when Turkey provided assistance to ISIS, the U.S. still stood by Turkey. For fear of what? That the Ambassador to Turkey will be recalled? It only took 127 days before the German ambassador was returned; France and other countries have gone through the same routine.”

Ozdemir, who was unable to attend the Gala, accepted the award and expressed appreciation for the recognition with a video message. He remarked, “The fight for minority rights has been a cornerstone of my career in the past.”

Ozdemir continued, “Since then we have seen commemorations of the Genocide and academic conferences on the subject in Turkey. What we have not seen, unfortunately, is any movement on the political level. Instead, the Turkish government is putting more and more pressure on the Turkish civil society that so bravely started the debate about the genocide. This is why we, as members of the German Bundestag, wanted no longer to wait for movement in Turkey. However, the most important motivation for us to act now was the fact that Germany was guilty too. The German Kaiserreich was the closest military ally of the Ottomans at that time. Through diplomats, through missionaries they were well informed about what was going in Turkey at that time. Yet they decided not to intervene and let over one million innocent people die.

“The resolution clearly recognizes co-responsibility of Germany, even speaking of guilt. The fact that the Bundestag almost as a whole embraced the Armenian Genocide resolution shows that Germany is ready to accept this dark chapter of its history. The award you are giving me means a lot to me. It will serve as a reminder that we need to learn from the past in order to do what’s right in the present. Unfortunately, we still live in a world full of conflicts and violence. When I think of Syria, I also think of how places like Aleppo and Deir el-Zor — one hundred years ago these were the destinations of those Armenians who survived the death marches. Now Christians and countless more people in the Middle East have to flee again. So we still have a lot of work to do to make this world a better place for all of us,” concluded Ozdemir.

MP Ozdemir’s moving acceptance speech was followed by a somber commemoration and celebration of one of ANCA-WR’s staunchest supporters – Varoujan Koundakjian, who received posthumously the Legacy Award. During the presentation of the award, ANCA-WR Board Member Sako Berberian remarked that “Varoujan spent a lifetime devoting his time, money, and talent to all things Armenian, first as a pillar of the Armenian-American Diaspora communities here in Los Angeles and South Bay, and then as a concerned citizen of Armenia, using all resources available to him to propel the newly independent Armenian Nation forward. For him, the most important concern was the development of the country in all facets. Financial and moral assistance to villagers, the poor, students and lay citizens became a key factor in Varoujan’s life. As an activist, his message to us was always to keep pushing, keep moving forward, remain strong, and create progressive and positive change.”

Sevag Koundakjian and Lalig Koundakjian receiving their late father's, Varoujan Koundakjian, Legacy Award.

Sevag Koundakjian and Lalig Koundakjian receiving their late father’s, Varoujan Koundakjian, Legacy Award.

The ANCA-WR Legacy Award was accepted by Varoujan’s son and daughter – Sevag Koundakjian and Lalig Koundakjian. In her speech, Lalig Koundakjian stated, “Born of humble beginnings, it was only through the generosity of others that he and his siblings attended school and became Homenetmen Scouts….Kindness and selfless giving became my father’s religion. He believed you should never forget your roots…he fulfilled his obligation to live a life of service to others. My father’s way embodied the concept of action without selfish motive, not engaging in action for the sake of reward, whether pleasant or unpleasant the purpose for action was the act itself. To act rightly even when you don’t have control of the outcome.  No attachment to personal gain was the essence of this wisdom and the key to his ultimate happiness.” Sevag Koundakjian remarked that “A lot of my father’s friends are a lot younger than him…I’ve been reflecting on that, why is it that so many of his friends are younger and I think it was something about his spirit how he always kept an open mind and an open heart and he welcomed so many ideas.”

After a brief break, the program continued with a musical performance by Maria Cozette, accompanied by Orbel Babayan on Acoustic Guitar. Cozette performed “Zartir Lao,” an Ottoman-era Armenian song that describes the suffering of the people of Moush and all of Western Armenia under Ottoman occupation.

ANCA-WR Board Members Raffi Kassabian, Esq. (right), and Joseph Kaskanian (left) presented basketball legend Coach Steve Kerr and The Kerr Family the ANCA-WR Humanitarian Award.

ANCA-WR Board Members Raffi Kassabian, Esq. (right), and Joseph Kaskanian (left) presented basketball legend Coach Steve Kerr and The Kerr Family the ANCA-WR Humanitarian Award.

Following the powerful musical performance, ANCA-WR Board Members Raffi Kassabian, Esq., and Joseph Kaskanian presented basketball legend Coach Steve Kerr and The Kerr Family the ANCA-WR Humanitarian Award for their family’s vital role in saving and raising hundreds of orphans of the Armenian Genocide. In his remarks, Kassabian explained that Dr. Stanley and Elsa Kerr “were instrumental in establishing the Near East Relief operations in Marash, later opening a Near East Relief orphanage for Armenian children in Beirut, Lebanon. They played an integral role in expressing America’s collective generosity and humanitarianism, when the American People raised today’s equivalent of $2.7 billion to fund the Near East Relief effort, without which the Armenian Nation undoubtedly would have been annihilated just as the Ottoman Turkish perpetrators of Genocide had intended. … The late Stanley Kerr’s foresight and sense of duty to document for future generations all the destruction he had seen left us with one of the most compelling eyewitness accounts of the Armenian Genocide through his memoir, The Lions of Marash – an indisputably factual source for Armenian Genocide scholars today.”

In his video acceptance speech, Coach Kerr remarked “I can’t tell you how much pride I have in the work my grandparents did, and I feel very proud to have my name attached to Armenian history.” His mother Ann Kerr, who received the award on behalf of the entire Kerr family, provided attendees with details about how the Kerr family played a pivotal role in saving so many during the Armenian Genocide and her own involvement and connection to the Armenian community especially in Lebanon, where her late husband Malcolm Kerr served as President of the American University of Beirut.

United States Congressman Brad Sherman was awarded with the ANCA-WR Advocate for Justice Award.

United States Congressman Brad Sherman was awarded with the ANCA-WR Advocate for Justice Award.

Following the Kerr family presentation, ANCA National Board Chair Raffi Hamparian and ANCA-WR Board Member Nareg Kitsinian, Esq. presented United States Congressman Brad Sherman with the ANCA-WR Advocate for Justice Award. In his remarks, Kitsinian highlighted Congressman Sherman’s long and illustrious record in Washington, noting that he pioneered direct US assistance to Artsakh in 1998 through the Sherman Amendment, has been a staunch defender of freedom and security for Artsakh, Armenia and Javakhk, and has strongly advocated for the adoption of a Double Tax Treaty between the US and Armenia. As Kitsinian noted, “Congressman Sherman has received an A+ grade by the ANCA, reflecting his unfailing support for our homeland and heritage.”

In his acceptance speech, Congressman Sherman noted the importance of the official recognition of the Armenian Genocide and stated, “When the State Department pushed back and said well Sherman if we provide aid to the people of Artsakh, aren’t we implying that the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh is an independent and sovereign entity? And I said well that’ll be another reason to do it.

“When pushing for aid for Armenia, Javakhk and Artsakh, my colleagues come to me and say where are we going to get the money…I could tell you where we can get some of it.  We can end all aid to Azerbaijan.  That is why when every time John Kerry comes to the floor of the House Affairs committee, I remind him that we cannot have a serious relationship with a country that threatens to shoot down full civilian aircraft and when Secretary Lew comes before the Financial Services Committee, I remind him that we need a tax treaty with Armenia.”

Sherman concluded his remarks with “So I will not rest until America recognizes the 1st genocide of the 20th century and until we achieve peace and justice for the people of Armenia and Artsakh in the 21st century.”

ANCA-WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan, ANCA-WR staff members Tereza Yerimyan, Haig Baghdassarian, Esq., Simon Maghakyan, and former staff Anna Arakelyan and Tatev Oganyan recognized the 2016 ANCA Western Region, Hye Votes, and ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Program participants

ANCA-WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan, ANCA-WR staff members Tereza Yerimyan, Haig Baghdassarian, Esq., Simon Maghakyan, and former staff Anna Arakelyan and Tatev Oganyan recognized the 2016 ANCA Western Region, Hye Votes, and ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Program participants

ANCA-WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan took to the podium, accompanied on stage by ANCA-WR staff members Tereza Yerimyan, Haig Baghdassarian, Esq., Simon Maghakyan, and former staff Anna Arakelyan and Tatev Oganyan to recognize the 2016 ANCA Western Region, Hye Votes, and ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Program participants Manushak Agazaryan, Melanie Ohanian, Natalie Bagumyan, Levon Gevorkyan, Levon  Donabedian, Alyssa Dermenjian, Vazgen Barsegian, Michelle Khazaryan, and Nayiri  Partamian.

Asatryan opened her remarks by going through the values instilled and opportunities provided to interns and youth in the community and the critical role they play in the organization’s success and continued on to state, “I am proud to announce that in 2016, we also launched a new internship specifically for our Hye Votes Initiative to ensure that our community’s youth also learn the nuts and bolts of running a Get Out the Vote campaign, while empowering the community to make its voice heard at the ballot box. Between the Western Region, Hye Votes, and the Leo Sarkisian program in Washington DC, we invested in and trained 10 incredible youth – all with the determination to empower the next generation of our community’s leaders. This number does not reflect the hundreds of incredible volunteers who dedicate countless hours at our office, in our committees, with our local chapters and through our Hye Votes program.”

In concluding her remarks, Asatryan asked attendees to join her in welcoming to the stage “our biggest assets, the lifeline of our community, the forces of progress for our country and our Cause” before reading the names of the 10 graduates of the programs.

ANCA-WR Board Member Anahid Oshagan, Esq., ANCA-WR Advisory Board Member Michael Mahdesian and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon presenting ANCA-WR Legislator of the Year Award to California Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

ANCA-WR Board Member Anahid Oshagan, Esq., ANCA-WR Advisory Board Member Michael Mahdesian and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon presenting ANCA-WR Legislator of the Year Award to California Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

Following Asatryan’s remarks and presentation, ANCA-WR Board Member Anahid Oshagan, Esq., and ANCA-WR Advisory Board Member Michael Mahdesian were joined by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to present California Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian with the ANCA-WR Legislator of the Year Award. In her remarks, Oshagan stated, “Since entering office, Assemblymember Nazarian has consistently been one of the strongest voices for Armenians and fiercest advocates on many issues, most notably regarding Armenian Genocide education and divestment of state funds from Turkey. Under Adrin and Speaker Rendon’s leadership working along with Senator Carol Liu, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Governor Brown, they successfully secured an initial $1 million of State funding for the Armenian American Museum in Glendale. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their efforts. It is our hope and expectation that this is just the beginning of a long-term productive collaboration between the State of California and the Armenian community to ensure that this long awaited Museum comes to fruition and enriches education, cultural diversity, and historical understanding for all Californians.”

Prior to presenting the award, Rendon took to the podium and noted, “The fact that year after year this annual dinner brings together such a wide cross section of political, business, and community leaders is a sign of great respect and esteem that ANCA-WR holds in our state.  I am especially pleased to be here tonight to present the Legislator of the Year award to my friend, my colleague, my brother Adrin Nazarian.”

“It’s really hard for me to think of Adrin as the legislator of the year given that his commitment to his community, his commitment to our state has lasted even before he was at UCLA – he’s someone who is constantly focused on the past, present and future of his community.  Assemblymember Nazarian is always reminding me of the talent that is available in the Armenian community.  In fact, he’s joining me in a couple of weeks at a seminar on how to help Armenian-American Californians apply for State boards and commissions – join us on October 25 in Burbank.” He continued on to talk about how Nazarian’s role is critical in the Assembly, including his seat in the Budget committee.

Receiving two back-to-back standing ovations, Nazarian opened his acceptance speech by thanking the organization for its important role and grassroots efforts and went on to state, “It is kind of ironic to be recognized by all of you here and the ANC because many of you were actually supporters in my effort to win office the first time I ran.  I hope your investment has paid off.”

“I also have to put in a plug. 30 years ago I joined AYF. That’s where I learned how to organize, that’s where I learned what bringing a community together meant, and that’s what’s led me onto these steps to be able to serve in public office, so please continue to invest in our youth and in AYF – let the kids grow, let them have opportunities.”

Academy Award-winning Director Terry George giving his remarks about Armenian Genocide film "The Promise," joined on stage by producer Mike Medavoy, actress Angela Sarafyan, musician Serj Tankian, and producer Kevin Matossian

Academy Award-winning Director Terry George giving his remarks about Armenian Genocide film “The Promise,” joined on stage by producer Mike Medavoy, actress Angela Sarafyan, musician Serj Tankian, and producer Kevin Matossian

The powerful program concluded with a special behind-the-scenes presentation of the Armenian Genocide movie “The Promise.” Before introducing the amazing team behind the film, ANCA-WR Board Member Steve Artinian stated, “Given Turkey’s continued stance of denial, making a film about the Armenian Genocide has never been an easy task. Efforts to produce such a film in Hollywood were consistently blocked by the Turkish government. The ANCA has called upon its grassroots activists to affirm the truth by breaking down walls of denial and opening the path to justice by countering the efforts of Turkish propagandists, voting to maintain the film’s high stature and rating, and raising awareness among elected officials and circles of influence. Unlike the past when the Turkish government successfully blocked such films, Armenians of today are well-equipped and have gained enough experience and insight to overcome even the most well-funded Turkish lobbyists and denialist campaigns.” An exclusive excerpt of the movie was played for the audience, following by remarks by The Promise producer Eric Esraelian and Academy-Award winning director Terry George.

In his address, Esraelian recognized the legacy of benefactor Kirk Kerkorian in making this groundbreaking movie on the Armenian Genocide possible. “The film is a gift…a gift to humanity as a potential vehicle and to start a conversation on human rights, of course the Armenian Genocide and essentially tolerance, philanthropy as an engine and he [Kirk Kerkorian] really accomplished that.”

George, who is best known for his iconic movie on another genocide, “Hotel Rwanda,” remarked, “I understand the Holocaust through Schindler’s List, I understand the Cambodian Genocide through the The Killing Fields, I understand Vietnam through Apocolypse Now. People understand the Rwandan genocide through Hotel Rwanda and we have the opportunity now, we were blessed with the opportunity to finally tell this story [the Armenian Genocide] to the world. To get it out in a way where people get inside the horror that took place and experience with the characters we have, what happened. I believe that will change the world and how people perceive what happened or even come to understand it.” Esraelian and George were joined on stage by The Promise cast and team members, including legendary producer Mike Medavoy, actress Angela Sarafyan, musician Serj Tankian, and producer Kevin Matossian.

Throughout the night, between the presentations of honorees, videos highlighting the organization’s unprecedented accomplishments played on screen, showcasing ANCA’s efforts in commemorating the Armenian Genocide, fighting to support Artsakh, community building, advocacy work, voter registration and elections, and youth development programs. Moving videos highlighting the collaboration and support of the ANCA for the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund, the Armenian American Museum, the Divest Turkey movement, the people of Artsakh, and the 25th Anniversary of the Independent Republic of Armenia as well as its Olympics team, framed the organization’s focus of activity.

As they left the banquet hall with renewed optimism and determination to continue their support of the ANCA-WR and its collective pursuit of the Armenian Cause, guests received packets that included the informative 2016 ANCA-WR Annual Report, as well as a list of ANCA-WR’s endorsed candidates and issues ahead in the upcoming November 8 General Elections.

Dignitaries, elected officials, and ANCA-WR endorsed candidates in attendance included Congressmembers Judy Chu, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sanchez, Loretta Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman and Jackie Speier; CA State Board of Equalization President Fiona Ma, Treasurer John Chiang, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, and State Senator Tony Mendoza; Speaker of the CA State Assembly Anthony Rendon, Assembly Member and Majority Leader Ian Calderon, Assemblymembers Katcho Achadjian, Matt Dababneh, Mike Gipson, Chris Holden, Adrin Nazarian, and Scott Wilk; Colorado State House of Representative Cole Wist; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich; Los Angeles County Superior Court Judges Hon. Greg Keosian and Hon. Zaven Sinanian; LA City Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, City Controller Ron Galperin, Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Mitch O’Farrell; President of Los Angeles Community College Board Scott J. Svonkin, Los Angeles Community College Board Trustees Mike Fong, Nancy Pearlman, Mike Eng; President of the Los Angeles Unified School District Steve Zimmer and LAUSD Board Members Scott Schmerelson and Monica Ratliff; Superintendent of LAUSD Local Northwest Vivian Ekchian; Glendale City Clerk and endorsed candidate for CA Assembly District 43 Ardy Kassakhian, Glendale City Councilmembers Zareh Sinanyan, Ara Najarian, and Vartan Gharpetian, Glendale City Treasurer Rafi Manoukian, Glendale Community College Superintendent Dr. David Viar, Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Mr. Winfred Roberson, Glendale Unified School District President Armine Gharapetian, La Crescenta Town Council Board Member Harry Leon, Member of the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees Vahe Peroomian, Montebello City Council Members Jack Hadjinian and Vanessa Delgado, Vice President of Glendale Community College Board of Trustees Dr. Armine Hacopian, Vice President of Glendale Unified School District Board of Education Nayiri Nahabedian, Mayor of the City of Pico Rivera David Armenta, Mayor of the City of Whittier Joe Vinatieri, Pico Rivera City Council Member Gustavo Camacho, Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonnald, Pasadena Unified School Board Member Roy Boulghourjian, South Pasadena Unified School District Member Suzie Abajian, Burbank Unified School District Board Member Armond Aghakhanian, East Hollywood Neighborhood Council President Tereza Yerimyan, ANCA WR Endorsed Candidate for CA State Senate District 25 Anthony Portantino, and ANCA WR Endorsed Candidate for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 5 Kathryn Barger.

Community leaders in attendance included Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Armenia Valery Mkrtoumian, Representative of the Artsakh Republic in the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Representative of Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America Father Serovpe Alanjian, A.R.F. Bureau Member Dr. Khatchig Mouradian, A.R.F. Western U.S. Chair Mr. Daron Der Kachatourian, Armenian Cultural Foundation Chairman Mr. Avedik Izmirlian, A.R.F. Supreme Council of Armenia Member Ashod Papazyan, ANCA National Board Chair, Mr. Raffi Hamparian, ANCA Executive Director Mr. Aram Hamparian, Minister to the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America Reverend Joseph Matossian, Asbarez Editor in Chief Apo Boghigian, Asbarez English Editor Ara Khachatourian, Homenetmen World Committee Member Viggen Davidian, Armenian Youth Federation of Western USA Central Executive Chair Rafi Orphali, Chair of the Prelacy Board of Regents Lisa Gaboudian, Chair of the Armenian Bar Association Saro Kerkonian, Syrian Armenian Relief Fund Chair Raffi Kendirjian, Trustee of the George Ignatius Foundation Michael Amirian, President of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Dr. Frieda Jordan, Regional Director of the HALO Trust Fund Andrew Moore, Los Angeles Police Permit Review Chairperson Lara Yeretsian, General Manager of the Los Angeles City Emergency Management Department Aram Sahakian, North Valley Planning Commissioner Oshin      Harootoonian, Commissioner of the CA Commission on Judicial Performance Pattyl Aposhian-Kasparian, Glendale Memorial Hospital President Jack Ivie, Member of the Armenian-American Medical Society Silva Gasparian, President of the Glendale Teachers Association Taline Arsenian, Glendale Parks and Recreations Commissioner Elen Asatryan, Chair of the City of Glendale’s Community Development Block Grant Commission Zanku Armenian, Candidate for Los Angeles Unified School District 6 Araz Parseghian, Montebello Planning Commission Chair Ashod Mooradian, and Montebello Investment Commissioner Sona Mooradian.

The corporate sponsors of the 2016 ANCA-WR Gala included: Southern California Edison, ABC7, Union Bank, California State University, Northridge, TF Educational Foundation, Qatar Airways, American Nuts, ABALI, Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Mardirossian & Associates, Inc., Southern California Gas Company, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, United Teachers Los Angeles, and Remedy Liquors.

The Gala Committee included Chair Lina Davidian, Esq., Anita Altounian, Pattyl Aposhian- Kasparian, Lorie Bartamian, Arsho Beylerian, Jacklin Boyadjian, Lena Bozoyan, Marie Filipian, Garine Garabedian, Harry Geozian, Anita Gevorkian, Elizabeth Gourjian, Salpi Jejeian, Solair Kargodorian, Silva Kechichian, Armine Sherikian, Nora Tchaparian, Vahagn Thomasian, and Sarin Vartanian.

The ANCA-WR Annual Banquet is the largest event of its kind and helps raise funds to operate the nation’s largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots and political advocacy organization. Through these funds, the ANCA-WR is able to educate the general public about the Armenian Genocide, the Republic of Armenia, Artsakh, and other vital issues of concern to the Armenian-American community.

To financially assist the ANCA-WR in its work, community members are encouraged to enroll in the Friends of the ANCA-WR Monthly Giving, the ANCA-WR Founders’ Circle Annual Giving, and the Support our Supporters Corporate and Business Giving programs by visiting or calling 818.500.1919.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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