Washington, D.C. - The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) mourns the passing of Arpi Vartanian, the Assembly's Regional Director in Yerevan, Armenia.
A longtime and instrumental member of the Assembly's staff team, Vartanian served the organization in numerous capacities, both at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., including a stint as Acting Executive Director, and in its regional office in Yerevan, for nearly three decades.
"The Assembly shares the deep pain of her family, neighbors, and many friends in this unexpected and tragic loss, as do the countless people Arpi positively impacted through her personal touches and through her training and advocacy work over the decades, recognizing her sustained commitment to serving the Armenian people and the causes of democracy and human rights," said Assembly Co-Chairs Van Krikorian and Anthony Barsamian. "Arpi truly loved Armenia and Artsakh, along with her friends and colleagues. Her professionalism and her joy in our efforts shone through with all of us. In partial tribute, an endowed fund for interns in Armenia, a program she pioneered, is being established and the Director's office in our Yerevan office will be named in her honor. It will be difficult to imagine those without her."
Vartanian began employment in Yerevan in 1994 as Director of the Assembly's NGO Training and Resource Center, followed by roles as the Director of Grassroots and Internship Program in 1996, Country Director for Armenia and Artsakh in 1997, Acting Executive Director in 2000, and assumed the role of the newly-formed Armenia Regional Director position in 2015 that included responsibilities for Assembly undertakings in Armenia and Artsakh. She worked closely with the Assembly's flagship office in D.C., as well as the Assembly's regional offices in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. Vartanian also served as Director of AGBU's Yerevan Office in 2012.
A native of Michigan, where she attended the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School, Vartanian graduated from Dearborn High School and Albion College, followed by the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Vartanian moved to Armenia in 1993 and amassed a wealth of hands-on experience on the ground by carrying out countless projects of the Assembly on behalf of the people of Armenia.
"Arpi's deep knowledge of Armenia, Artsakh and America was invaluable. Her insights and tireless work behind the scenes led to many achievements," said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "She will be dearly missed by her Assembly family, colleagues, and all those whose lives she touched."
During her tenure with the organization, Vartanian served as the conduit between the homeland and the U.S., helped raise public awareness of Armenian issues with U.S. and other officials, spearheaded educational initiatives, coordinated and participated in meetings with members of government and community leaders, collaborated with national and international organizations, and connected with youth from the Diaspora and Armenia, including leading the Assembly's Yerevan Summer Internship Program, which was established in 1999.
Vartanian also routinely traveled and led Congressional Member Delegations to Artsakh. In the aftermath of the 2020 Artsakh War, she was joined by Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan on a trip to assess the plight of people and the ensuing humanitarian crisis.
With her close knowledge of the country and its institutions, Vartanian coordinated numerous Armenian Assembly missions to Armenia, organizing their itineraries and securing meetings with key officials. Vartanian greeted hundreds of Armenian Assembly members who were introduced to the country through her and her generous spirit.
She also skillfully steered many delegations, large and small, ranging from U.S. journalists and analysts to government officials and special guests to meet their objectives and improve Armenia's standing with the international community.
Memorably, Vartanian welcomed the Morgenthau family to Armenia in 1999 and saw to every detail of their visit from meeting President Robert Kocharian to joining the Armenian people on April 24 in laying flowers at the genocide memorial in remembrance of their grandfather Ambassador Morgenthau. A larger gathering of the Morgenthau family traveled to Armenia for the centennial commemorations in 2015, and Vartanian again made all necessary arrangements for their introduction to Armenia and its grateful people.
With her devoted work through the Assembly that positively impacted Armenia, Vartanian was awarded the Medal of Gratitude in 2017 from President Serzh Sargsyan expressly for her "contributions to the strengthening of Fatherland-Diaspora relations."
Reflecting on receiving the distinction, Vartanian stated that she was "honored" to receive the presidential award and she remains "dedicated to Armenia and the work we do to better relations with the United States for the good of our people in Armenia and Artsakh."
Vartanian also received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) for her role in bolstering relations between the U.S., Armenia, and Artsakh, as well as a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
"We were heartbroken to hear of Arpi's passing," said Assembly President Carolyn Mugar. "We worked together for many years, and she had the heart of the Assembly embedded within her as she was with us for so much of our history. Arpi witnessed positive changes in Armenia and built many long-standing relationships in the homeland and in the U.S. We mourn for her family and friends."
Burial services will take place tomorrow, Friday, January 12, 2024 at 2 pm at Arin Berd Cemetery in Armenia. Memorial services will take place in the U.S. and Armenia, with details to follow.
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.