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Armenian Americans in Politics Join Panel at Armenian Assembly’s National Advocacy Conference

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Advocacy Panel - photos not approved.jpg

California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian; President Donald Trump’s Transition Team Senior Member and Nahigian Strategies President and Founder Keith Nahigian; Michigan State Representative Mari Manoogian; and President George W. Bush Administration’s U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator and former Michigan legislator John Jamian

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) announced that Armenian Americans active in politics are joining a panel on “The Importance of Advocacy” during the Assembly’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, September 16, 2019.

California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian; President Donald Trump’s Transition Team Senior Member and Nahigian Strategies President and Founder Keith Nahigian; Michigan State Representative Mari Manoogian; and President George W. Bush Administration’s U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator and former Michigan legislator John Jamian will join a panel moderated by Elise Kenderian Aronson, Vice President of Government Affairs at MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings and a former Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill.

“This panel discussion of Armenian Americans with experience in government relations and media messaging alongside current and former elected officials offers an important opportunity to inspire conference participants to advocate for stronger U.S.-Armenia relations,” Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan said.

Adrin Nazarian

California State  Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian with Armenian Assembly Western Region Director Mihran Toumajan, Armenian Assembly Southern California Regional Council Member Helen Haig, and Deacon Daniel Aydenian

Assembly member Adrin Nazarian represents California’s 46th Assembly District, which includes the Hollywood Hills, Lake Balboa, North Hills, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Universal City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village. He has led many efforts in support of Armenians in California since his election in 2012, including the Turkish Divestment Bill and formal reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, as well as his work strengthening ties between the Republic of Armenia and California, spearheading delegations of fellow state elected officials and business leaders while visiting Armenia and Artsakh.

Prior to being elected, Assemblymember Nazarian served as Chief of Staff to Paul Krekorian in both of Krekorian’s capacities as Assistant Majority Leader in the California State Legislature and as Los Angeles Councilmember. He was also an aide to Congressman Brad Sherman, participated in the prestigious CORO Fellowship in Public Affairs, and was appointed Special Assistant to the California Trade and Commerce Agency by former Governor Gray Davis.

Keith Nahigian and 2019 interns

Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program alumnus Keith Nahigian with the Internship Program Class of 2019

A 27-year veteran with top-level experience advising, designing, and managing some of the largest political campaigns in U.S. history, Keith Nahigian has worked for governors, Members of Congress, and served in the White House under the first Bush Administration. His work has taken him around the world to dozens of countries and almost every state in the nation. Among other roles, Keith has served as Special Assistant to the Vice President of the United States, Special Assistant to the Governor of New Jersey, consultant to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and campaign manager to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in her 2012 presidential campaign.

In 2000, he founded Nahigian Strategies, a full-service strategic communications and public relations firm based in Washington, D.C. spanning diverse industries in the public and private sectors. Among his many career achievements, Nahigian has worked for six presidential campaigns, managed the messaging priorities for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) at the request of the Secretary, and orchestrated both the Medicare Part D prescription drug enrollment campaign and the HHS Prevention and Value Driven campaign. He has significant experience working with the media and has been a frequent source of commentary for national news outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox News, NPR, and others.

Rep. Manoogian

Michigan State Representative Mari Manoogian introducing legislation that declares April 24 as a Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide in Michigan’s House of Representatives

Michigan State Representative Mari Manoogian is serving her first term representing the 40th House District, which includes Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, and a portion of West Bloomfield Township. At 27, she is the youngest woman serving in the 100th Legislature, and the first Armenian American woman to serve in the Michigan House of Representatives. Prior to joining the legislature, Rep. Manoogian served in various capacities at the United States Department of State.

Rep. Manoogian is a third generation American whose great-grandparents came to the U.S. in the 1920s to escape the Armenian Genocide, and she is a Board Member of the Armenian Genocide Education Committee in Michigan. She earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. Rep. Manoogian is a member of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church in Dearborn.

Senator Knollenberg. Jamian

Former Michigan State Senator Marty Knollenberg and Armenian Assembly State Director John Jamian

Prior to his appointment and United States Senate confirmation to serve as Deputy Director of the Maritime Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation, John Jamian served as Executive Director of the Armenian Assembly of America from 2001 to 2002. Today, he is the Armenian Assembly’s volunteer Michigan State Director, where he spearheads Assembly initiatives throughout the Great Lakes region.

Jamian is the first Armenian American official to be elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. He served Michigan’s 40th District from 1991-1996, and sponsored Genocide Resolutions in the Michigan House while in office. During his tenure as a Michigan legislator, he served as Chairman of the House Task Force Committee on Port and Maritime Affairs. His work also included reporting on Intermodal Transportation Initiatives for the State of Michigan.

A long-time community activist, Jamian has co-chaired events honoring former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) and President George W. Bush, and organized numerous fundraisers for local and national politicians. He was instrumental in introducing former Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and many other public officials to the Armenian community. He also helped establish Michigan’s first Armenian American Public Affairs Committee. He is a member of St. John’s Armenian Church of Detroit and the Knights of Vartan Men’s Lodge, as well as an active member of the Armenian Genocide Education Committee, which he helped for the passage of the 2016 House Bill 4493 – the Genocide Education: Governor’s Advisory Council & Curriculum and Assessment.

Elise Aronson and 2019 interns

Elise Kenderian Aronson with the Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program Class of 2019

Elise Kenderian Aronson is Senior Vice President for Government Relations at MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated, a private diversified holding company with interests in a broad portfolio of publicly traded and privately held companies. Current holdings include leading participants across a wide range of industries, including cosmetics, biotechnology, intelligent media delivery, education services, financial services, and national defense.

Prior to her current position, Elise spent over twelve years on Capitol Hill, beginning in 1996, working for the then-House International Relations Committee. She left the Committee in 1997 to work for Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) as a Legislative Assistant from 1997 to 2000, covering military and health issues. In 2000, Elise joined the office of Congressman Jim Saxton (R-NJ) as the Legislative Director, responsible for managing the legislative staff in his Washington office. In 2003, she was promoted to Chief of Staff, overseeing all of his legislative and political operations in Washington, serving in this capacity until 2008.

The keynote speaker for the Advocacy Conference is David Bohigian, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Acting President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Bohigian is the highest ranking Armenian American official in the Administration and traveled to Armenia last year in his official capacity. OPIC has helped finance numerous projects in Armenia over the years.

In addition to the luncheon, the National Advocacy Conference and Gala includes panel discussions, meetings on Capitol Hill, and a congressional celebration of United States-Armenia relations.

Tickets are available online at For more information on the National Advocacy Conference, visit

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#: 2019-035

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