Majority of Armenian Caucus Members Re-Elected in 2018 Midterm Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the House of Representatives, the Members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues had a strong showing with the overwhelming majority (over 92 percent) of those seeking re-election winning in the 2018 midterm elections, including Co-Chairs Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) and Vice Co-Chairs Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) reported.

“We congratulate all of our friends in Congress on their victories, and look forward to meeting with the new Members when the 116th Congress begins,” stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “The Armenian Assembly also appreciates the strong support of our friends who will not be returning to Congress and wish them every success, especially outgoing House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Dave Trott (R-MI),” he added.

Founded in 1995, the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues is an informal, bipartisan group of legislators dedicated to maintaining and strengthening the U.S.-Armenia relationship. The coordinated efforts of this diverse coalition of Congressional friends of Armenia and the Armenian American community help to raise awareness of Armenian American issues on Capitol Hill, with the White House, and with the American people.

In addition to Rep. Speier and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Armenian American newcomer Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) has just been elected as Congressman in Central New York’s 22nd District representing Utica, Rome, Cortland, and Binghamton.

While Armenian Caucus Members were unquestionably successful at the ballot box this cycle, 13 members will not return for the 116th Congress due to retirement or because they sought other office, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Dave Trott (R-MI), and Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Sander Levin (D-MI), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)  Jared Polis (D-CO), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), and Tim Walz (D-MN), with Reps. Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) losing in primary upsets.

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.


NR# 2018-050

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Armenian Assembly National Advocacy Conference Features Exclusive First-Looks for Attendees

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Attendees at Armenian Assembly of America’s 2018 National Advocacy Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attendees of the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) National Advocacy Conference were treated to a sneak preview about the results from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well as a special presentation about American humanitarian intervention in Armenia’s first republic.


Luncheon speaker Smithsonian Director of Special Projects Halle Butvin made a special presentation on the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival which presented “Armenia: Creating Home.” She shared remarks and insights about this historic Festival that brought Armenian culture and tradition to our nation’s capital, which is considered the most widely attended in recent years.

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Smithsonian Director of Special Projects Halle Butvin at the Armenian Assembly 2018 National Advocacy Conference

“The two weeks of the Festival were packed – we normally worry about thunderstorms and rain, but this year it was all sun – so much so that most of the time there was a heat advisory. That didn’t stop the 738,000 people who came to the Mall to learn about Armenian culture. Staff who have worked on the Festival for their entire career commented on the powerful presence of Armenian Americans. Within the site, you could hear Eastern and Western Armenian spoken everywhere, and every day we encountered extended families who used the Festival as an opportunity for a reunion,” Butvin said.

Butvin was the curator for the Festival, and shared stories of her experiences traveling back and forth from Armenia over the past couple of years, and how welcomed she felt during her trips. This warmth continued at the Folklife Festival, and she told the attendees anecdotes of her memorable interactions with the Festival participants. Butvin concluded her presentation with an exclusive first-look video that has not yet been released, comprised of interviews from the Armenian participants and what the 2018 Folklife Festival meant to them.

“Throughout the Festival, we heard so much positive feedback, both from participants and visitors, and our team is in the process of finalizing a report on its impact. My co-curators are, as we speak, visiting with festival participants to learn from them about their experience, the new relationships made, and what they’ll carry forth as a result of being a part of this momentous occasion,” she added.


Another feature presentation was made by Armenian National Institute (ANI) Director Dr. Rouben Adalian, who introduced his digital exhibit on the role of the YMCA and American relief work during the first republic of Armenia (1918-1920). The exhibit explores the role of two exceptional individuals, John Elder and James O. Arroll, who volunteered to stay in Armenia during the critical year of 1918 when fellow American relief workers were withdrawn in view of the intensification of warfare in the region.

Dr. Adalian went into further detail about the American volunteers throughout the past century in Armenia, starting with the YMCA volunteers, recalling the relief workers who hastened to Armenia after the December 1988 earthquake, and continuing with those in the Peace Corps today.

“The United States and Armenia have a 100 year relationship. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Republic, and the United States was there from the very first year, helping the Armenian people,” he said. “The United States has been doing so much more for Armenia than these one or two occasional episodes of humanitarian intervention.”

The exhibit was on display in Yerevan this past summer, which was visited by U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills, and is currently in Artsakh being presented by the YMCA in Stepanakert.

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Armenian National Institute (ANI) Director Dr. Rouben Adalian at the Armenian Assembly’s 2018 National Advocacy Conference

“Two years ago, a granddaughter of John Elder sent me a photograph, and hence, started a conversation with Elder’s family. Out of that grew a continuing discussion. Today, we have the evidence – photographs and diary entries – of what John Elder experienced in Armenia with the Genocide survivors,” Dr. Adalian said.

Discovered the morning of the Advocacy Conference, Dr. Adalian shared with the attendees a never-before-seen gift to John Elder by the Armenian people a hundred years ago.

Click here to see photos from the National Advocacy Conference

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.


NR#: 2018-049

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