Armenian Assembly’s Gala Honors Past and Present Interns
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) Joins Armenian Assembly to Bestow Ken Khachigian with Public Service Awards
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last weekend, with the enthusiastic support and leadership of former Assembly interns Diane Barsam and Sosy Hachikian, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) held its successful “Celebrating the Future” Gala at the Newport Beach Country Club honoring the past forty years of over a thousand Assembly interns. Guests traveled from all over California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C. to attend the sold out event that featured an intern alumni discussion panel with Katherine Sarafian and Michael Agbabian, moderated by Kathryn Mgrublian.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) headlined the evening and addressed the audience about U.S.-Armenia relations and his experience with the Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program participants.
“Growing up in Orange County, I first heard of the Armenian Genocide from those who had been orphaned as a result of the atrocities. The stories I heard were shocking, and have stuck with me to this day. As a global leader in human rights, it is imperative for the United States to stand on principle and recognize the annihilation of the Armenians,” said Rep. Royce. “The Armenian Assembly of America’s Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program gives me hope for the future, as deepening the Armenian American community’s involvement in our nation’s capital will help steer our country in the right direction on this issue.”
County of Los Angeles Civil Service Commission President Greg Kahwajian, who served as special assistant to Governor George Deukmejian, read a letter from Gov. Deukmejian on Khachigian’s deserving of the award and their time working together. Following Gov. Deukmejian’s words, Assembly Board of Trustees Co-Chair Van Krikorian presented Kenneth L. Khachigian with the Assembly’s Deukmejian Award for Public Service, which is granted to individuals who embody the qualities of an exemplary public servant.
Khachigian commented that the award honors both him and Gov. Deukmejian for their work. “I would like to take this opportunity to note that I believe the Armenian Assembly is really honoring George Deukmejian tonight, and not me, for his public service. And I strongly second their urging for you to be involved in this important organization. I served on its Board for several years, and for them to have Michelle Steel, the Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and Ed Royce the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee here – two extremely important officials – shows how important it is for you to help them and get involved,” Khachigian said.
Later in his speech, he addressed the students in the audience and offered them advice. He told the future interns to “never hesitate to be ‘jarbeeg’ when the opportunity lies before you.” He concluded: “If you need a role model, there is no one better than that characterized in the life of Courken George Deukmejian. So to receive the George Deukmejian award for public service is an enormous honor because it means putting my name alongside someone whose stature I could never hope to match.”
As the program continued, intern alumna Kathryn Mgrublian sat down with intern alumni Katherine Sarafian and Michael Agbabian to discuss their past experiences as interns, their current careers in the media, and any words of wisdom they have for future interns. Both Agbabian and Sarafian were placed in video and media internships in Washington D.C., to which Sarafian pointed out “the beauty of the Armenian Assembly is that they will find an internship for you.”
With Christine Kotchian as the Mistress of Ceremonies, the evening was filled with special presentations, including Michael Sarian, President of Hospital Operations for Prime Healthcare Services, who spoke about his experiences with the new Administration.
Having interned with their son, Richard, Gala Co-Chair Diane Barsam expressed her heart-felt appreciation to the Tufenkian family for endowing the Assembly’s internship program in their son’s memory. Barsam also acknowledged Jim and Connie Melikian, who were in attendance, for their support of the program, as well as the Kezirian family in memory of former Assembly Board Member Peter.
In addition to Rep. Royce, other elected officials in attendance included Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Supervisor Michele Steel, Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Orange County Supreme Court Judge Gassia Apkarian, Claremont McKenna College Board of Trustees Chair David Mgrublian, South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees President Timothy Jemal, and Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian (Assembly intern alumni, 1998).
Meghrouni Family Presidential Chair in Armenian Studies at UC Irvine, Dr. Houry Berberian and UC Los Angeles Associate Professor and the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History, Dr. Sebouh Aslanian were present at the Gala, alongside author of “The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey,” Dawn Anahid MacKeen. MacKeen’s book on her grandfather’s survival during the Armenian Genocide is required reading in Orange County’s La Habra Unified School District, as well as at universities throughout the United States.
Assembly Board of Trustees Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian shared updates from the Assembly’s work in Washington, D.C., Armenia, and Artsakh, and noted future plans for the organization. Barsamian acknowledged the Board of Trustees and members of the Assembly’s original National Steering Committee at the Gala. Assembly Board of Directors’ first Chairman from California, Mihran Agbabian, was also present. Barsamian spoke to past and present interns, and said: “The Armenian Assembly interns over the past forty years continue to be successful and are proven to be great role models for the next generation – from intern alumni Katherine Sarafian and Michael Agbabian. I look forward to having the students who attended the Gala and their friends as future intern participants, and am excited to discover what the future has in store for them.”
The Gala concluded with music and dancing while past interns spoke with high school and college students about their own experiences in the Washington, D.C. and Yerevan, Armenia summer internship programs.
“We would also like to extend our appreciation for the Gala Co-Chairs and Assembly intern alumni, Sosy Hachigian and Diane Barsam, for their hard work and dedication planning this event alongside the Gala Committee and the Assembly’s Western Office in Los Angeles. Thanks to them, this event was a success. We plan to keep this momentum going and maintain a strong relationship with the Armenian community in Orange County as we plan coming advocacy efforts and events,” Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian stated.
“On behalf of the Armenian Assembly, we would also like to thank our generous sponsors, David & Margaret Mgrublian, Antranik & Virginia Zorayan, Carolyn G. Mugar, the Stephen Philibosian Foundation, Bryan & Valina Agbabian, Anthony & Nancy Barsamian, the Dickranian Foundation, John & Gayane Pridjian, Mihran & Elizabeth Agbabian, Al & Diane Cabraloff, Helen Haig, James & Connie Melikian, Richard & Lauren Mushegain, Carol Ann Rustigian, Oscar Tatosian, Annie Totah, and Varuj Babikian & Talin Yacoubian,” the Co-Chairs said.
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 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
Photo Caption 1: Armenian Assembly intern alumni group photo at the “Celebrating the Future” Gala
Photo Caption 2: Mistress of Ceremonies Christine Kotchian with Gala Co-Chairs Diane Barsam and Sosy Hachigian
Photo Caption 3: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) awarding Ken Khachigian with a Congressional Certificate of Recognition
Photo Caption 4: Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian honoring Ken Khachigian with the Deukmejian Award for Public Service
Photo Caption 5: Assembly intern alumni Kathryn Mgrublian with Michael Agbabian, award-winning TV producer, and Katherine Sarafian, Pixar producer.
Photo Caption 6: Ralph and Savey Tufenkian
Photo Caption 7: Ken Khachigian, Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian, Rep. Royce, Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian, and Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny