– In a capacity-filled venue, Armenian Assembly members, supporters and friends alike gathered on September 22 in downtown Los Angeles, California, as the Assembly celebrated its 40th anniversary, reported the Assembly.
The Assembly Gala honored several outstanding individuals exemplifying decades of public and community service.
Presenting the Assembly’s “Distinguished Humanitarian Award” to Elizabeth Agbabian, Flora Dunaians, and Savey Tufenkian, Assembly Chairman Hirair Hovnanian praised their work stating, “I am truly proud of them for their dedication and their loyalty to the Armenian people.” Hovnanian added: “You have set an example for people to follow in your footsteps.” Speaking on behalf of all three women, Flora Dunaians stated “we are overwhelmed and grateful for the honor.”
Headlining the evening’s program, the Honorable George Deukmejian, the 35th governor of the State of California, presented the Assembly’s “George Deukmejian Award for Public Service” to Deborah and Charles Poochigian. In accepting the award, Deborah Poochigian expressed her appreciation stating that the Governor and Gloria were wonderful role models and that she hoped that “we will always make you proud.” Charles Poochigian thanked the Assembly and its membership for the “incredible contributions that you have made to our people, to the legacy of our people and to the future of the Armenian people.”
The Assembly also paid tribute to George and Gloria Deukmejian. A moving video presentation shown at the Gala captured key moments in their professional lives as Governor and First Lady, as well as in their personal lives. The Assembly through its sister organization, the Armenian Tree Project (ATP), planted a grove of trees in Armenia in honor of the Deukmejians, with Chairman Hovnanian presenting the award. In his remarks, the Governor described the Assembly as “a premier organization for Armenians” and one that he has “highly respected and admired.”
The Gala was chaired by Master of Ceremonies and Assembly Board Member Peter Kezirian, who thanked Margaret Mgrublian of the Assembly’s Southern California Regional Council for her leadership in making the evening such a success. His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America, gave the opening blessing, while retired Reverend Vartkes Kassouni of the Armenian Evangelical Church provided the benediction.
Speaking on behalf of the organization Assembly Board Member Van Krikorian, while looking ahead to the future, reflected on the Assembly’s forty years of effective nonpartisan advocacy in Washington, DC.
Featured speaker, Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, congratulated the Assembly on running a successful internship program in Washington, DC for the last 35 years, and recalled his own experience as an Assembly intern and the “ethic of engagement” that the program instilled.
The event coincided with Armenia’s 21st anniversary of independence. The Presidents of Armenia and of Artsakh sent special greetings as did Armenia’s Foreign Minister and its Ambassador to the United States. In addition, Armenia’s Consul General in California, who attended the Gala, extended his congratulations.
The Gala celebration was made possible through the generous support of numerous sponsors from across the United States.
Grand Patron: Hirair & Anna Hovnanian Foundation, NJ; Carolyn G. Mugar, Armenia Tree Project, MA.
Platinum Patron: David & Margaret Mgrublian, CA; Stephen Philibosian Foundation, CA; Sami & Annie Totah Family Foundation, MD; T. F. Educational Foundation, CA; USC Institute of Armenian Studies Leadership Council.
Gold Patron: Anonymous; Elizabeth & Mihran Agbabian, CA; George & Flora Dunaians, CA; Lu Ann & Bruce Ohanian, MA; Peter & Charleen Onanian, MA; Savey & Ralph Tufenkian, CA; Jeanne Tumanjan, Commerce Casino, CA.
Silver Patron: Armenian Missionary Association of America, CA; Talin Yacoubian & Varuj Babikian, CA; Albert & Diane Cabraloff, CA; Michelle & Peter Kezirian. CA; Hovik & Tsovinar Kiramichian, CA; James & Connie Melikian, CA.
Bronze Patron: John & Linda Kay Abdulian, CA; AGBU Western District Committee, CA; Nazar Ashjian, Jr., CA; Armenian Film Foundation, CA; The Vartkess & Rita Balian Family Foundation, VA; Anthony & Nancy Barsamian, MA; Shahen Raissi & Dr. Violet Boodaghians, CA; Dr. Nazareth & Ani Darakjian, CA; Greg & Gina Felikian, CA; Mr. & Mrs. Aghassi Gharadaghian, CA; Dr. & Mrs. Vaughn Gregor, CA; Barbara & Samuel Hagopian, TX; Armen & Nora Hampar, CA; Sandra & Paul Kalemkiarian, CA; James Kalustian, MA; Lisa Kalustian, CA; Alice Kessedjian, CA; Jack & Lori Muncherian, CA; Richard & Lauren Mushegain, CA; Kenneth & Cindy Norian, CA; Arsine & Gary Phillips, CA; Dr. Simon J. & Arpi Simonian, CA; Ara & Agavni Yeramyan, PA; Marilynn & Joseph Zeronian, CA.