Highlights September Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Philadelphia Community members, former interns, and friends – young and young at heart representing a diverse cross section of the community – attended the Armenian Assembly of America’s (Assembly) sold out Philadelphia Celebration honoring Life Trustees Peter and Irene Vosbikian, who were awarded with the Global Humanitarian Award.
The Celebration took place on Saturday, April 28 in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center overlooking Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the birthplace of our nation’s democracy. Guests traveled from across the country, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., for the event.
Host Committee Chairman and Assembly Board Member Alex Karapetian welcomed guests and thanked the Host Committee – comprised of fellow Board Member Bianka Kadian Dodov and the Philadelphia trifecta: Celeste Ayjian, Jake Der Hagopian, and Silva Santerian – as well as the Assembly staff, sponsors, and donors for helping to make it an unforgettable evening.
Karapetian shared his experience during the Assembly’s summer internship in Washington, D.C. and applauded the intern alumni in attendance. The Honorary Host Committee, which was mostly comprised of former alumni, includes Ani Acopian (’14), Adam Azarian (’09), Alexander Azarian (’14), Michael Azarian (’05), Cissy Der Hagopian (’79), Mark Hoplamazian (’83), Edele Hovnanian (’80), Leslie Azarian Karapetian (’02), Julia Mirak Kew (’87), Raffi Manoukian (’97), Mark Momjian (’79 & ’80), Melineh Momjian (’85), Paul Sookiasian (’05), Erika Hajatian Torosian (’05), and Linda Yepoyan (’81). Former Assembly Board Chairman Michael Haratunian and former Assembly Board Member Harry S. Cherken, Jr. were also part of the Honorary Host Committee, alongside their former Board colleagues Edele Hovnanian and Mark Momjian.
During his speech, Karapetian stated: “Tonight, we are not only celebrating the 41st anniversary of the Assembly’s summer internship program but we are also honoring two of its most devoted stewards and staunch pillars of the Philly community, Peter and Irene Vosbikian, with the Global Humanitarian Award. Congratulations to both of you and thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for the Assembly.”
Karapetian also encouraged everyone to participate in the Assembly’s upcoming National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., which will take place on September 23-25, 2018. “We cannot sit on the sidelines and expect others to act on our behalf. If you want to see change, you need to be an advocate. Every single person who is here tonight is already an advocate…It’s because of you that the Assembly can continue to grow and make positive change for Armenia on the Hill,” he said.
The guests of honor, Peter and Irene Vosbikian, invited everyone as well to join the Armenian Assembly at its National Advocacy Conference in September.
“When I served as Chairman of the Assembly 16 years ago, Turkey’s lobbying efforts in the U.S. were in their infancy. Today, they are spending millions to whitewash their tarnished past,” Peter Vosbikian said. Peter, noting that the Armenian Assembly serves as the voice for Armenians in our nation’s capital, urged everyone to come to Washington, D.C. “Let’s walk up the Hill together!” he concluded.
Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian praised Peter and Irene Vosbikian for their passion, tireless support, and vigilant commitment to the Armenian American community.
“Peter and Irene are the perfect example of activism and leadership, as well as a role model for the global Armenian community, which is why they are so deserving of the Armenian Assembly’s Global Humanitarian Award. Their commitment to advocacy and philanthropy is what sets them apart, and their ongoing efforts are admirable and inspiring. We are proud to have them part of our organization,” Assembly Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian said.
Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan gave the Invocation for the evening, and Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America Archbishop Vicken Aykazian provided the Benediction. Also in attendance were clergy from the Philadelphia region, including Rev. Fr. Nerses Manoogian of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church in Philadelphia, Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church in Wynnewood, Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan at Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in Cheltenham, Hieromonk Fr. Raphael Stontsitskyy at St. Mark’s Armenian Catholic Church in Wynnewood, and Sisters Emma Moussayan and Narine Simonian of Armenian Sisters Academy in Radnor.
The Celebration featured the vibrant and eclectic culture of Philadelphia, known for its rich history. As guests were entering the National Constitution Center, they were greeted with Philadelphia-native impersonators, Rocky Balboa and Benjamin Franklin. Those in attendance were also surprised with a live performance of the Aqua String Band, consisting of the traditional Mummers known for their elaborate costumes. The evening concluded with special musical guest Kevork Artinian and His Band, who reside, and are well known, in the Philadelphia region.
“We would also like to extend our appreciation for the Host Committee, under the enthusiastic leadership of Alex Karapetian, for their hard work and dedication planning this event alongside the Armenian Assembly’s staff,” Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian stated. “We are now planning a third major advocacy conference to take place in Washington, D.C. this September around Armenian Independence day to bring the Armenian American community and leadership in large numbers to meet with Washington policymakers to make a bigger difference together.”
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.