Meet the 2009 Camp Haiastan Board of Directors

L ro R: Ani Haroian, Michael Guzelian, Mark Alashaian, Nevart Mikaelian, Joshua Tevekelian, Mimi Parseghian, Richard Krikorian, Levon Attarian, and Simone Topouzian.
L to R: Ani Haroian, Michael Guzelian, Mark Alashaian, Nevart Mikaelian, Joshua Tevekelian, Mimi Parseghian, Richard Krikorian, Levon Attarian, and Simone Topouzian.

FRANKLIN, Mass.—With the 2008 camp season still a pleasant memory in our hearts and in our heads, we at AYF Camp Haiastan will soon embark on a new year and a new season for 2009. As is tradition at the close of the calendar year, the camp Board of Directors fills open seats and elects officers for the coming year. This past October at the camp’s Annual Meeting of the Camp Haiastan Corporation, three of the seven board seats were open and filled by the re-election of three incumbents: Michael Guzelian, Nevart Mikaelian, and Joshua Tevekelian, all from Massachusetts. In addition, the Corporate Board approved a recommendation by the Board of Directors to add two new board seats to bring the Board of Directors to a total of nine members, beginning in 2009. Elected to the board as new members along with returnees Guzelian, Mikaelian, and Tevekelian were Simone Topouzian of Michigan and Michael Shamlian of Pennsylvania. Topouzian and Shamlian bring a wealth of experience and talent to the board. Camp Haiastan has been an important part of their lives as both attended camp, were camp staff members, and served as liaisons for the board over the years in their respective communities for outreach activities including fundraising and camper and staff recruitment.

Camp Haiastan opened its doors to the first group of Armenian youngsters in 1951 as the first Armenian cultural children’s camp in the United States. With the consistent growth of the camp as a national and international summer destination for Armenian youngsters seeking to experience an atmosphere dedicated to the inspiration of pride in their Armenian heritage and the establishment of lifelong bonds of friendship, the work of the Board of Directors outgrew the seven-member body. Talk of the expansion of the board to nine members has been a consistent topic in the recent year, and that talk has centered around the idea of prospective new members of the board being recruited from outside New England in order to insure continued solid market penetration and accommodation of the needs of those Armenian families from regions such as the South Atlantic and Midwest, both areas with excellent camper enrollment histories. Michael Shamlian and Simone Topouzian are perfect candidates to fill these two new Board seats.

The 2009 Board of Directors include Michael Guzelian, Mark Alashaian, Richard Krikorian, Joshua Tevekelian, Nevart Mikaelian, Levon Attarian, Melissa Simonian, Simone  Topouzian and Michael Shamlian.

In November, the board elected its officers for 2009. Michael Guzelian succeeds Mark Alashaian as chairman. Mark has served as board chairman for the past four years, and under his watch many outstanding and noteworthy improvements were accomplished and benchmarks set. Both Richard Krikorian and Melissa Simonian were re-elected to their respective 2008 posts, Richard as treasurer and Melissa as clerk/secretary. The new position of assistant treasurer was filled by the election of Levon Attarian to that post.

In addition to the board, three individuals fill important roles as liaisons to the board from our three adjunct organizations, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Board of Regional Directors Eastern U.S.A., the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern Region Central Committee, and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Eastern U.S. Central Executive. The liaisons for 2009 are Muriel Parseghian, ARS, Ani Haroian, ARF, and Lauren DaSilva, AYF. Beginning his sixth season as Camp Haiastan’s executive director is Baron Roy Callan.

Members of the Camp Haiastan Board of Directors—by necessity, and sometimes by accident—wear many hats in their service to the camp. It is in this capacity that the 2009 “class” of board members shines most brightly as they are a highly talented, experienced, and dedicated group of leaders who thankfully come to the camp as accomplished professionals and as movers and shakers in their respective Armenian communities. We are proud to profile our 2009 board to give our camp family and friends a thumbnail sketch of the outstanding qualities of each member:

Michael Guzelian, chairman, Needham, Mass. An electrical engineer with General Dynamics Corporation for the past 24 years, Guzelian is also the director of Secure Voice and Data Products. Guzelian and his wife Susan have two daughters, Taline and Adrineh. Guzelian attended Camp Haiastan for many years as a youngster. He was also a camp counselor and is now in his second two-year term as a board member overseeing facility development and upgrading, and as the newly elected chairman. His AYF membership of many years was highlighted by serving on the AYF Central Executive. Guzelian continues to serve on the Board of the Armenian Youth Foundation since 1992 and has been a member of St. Stephen’s Armenian Church of Watertown, Mass., his entire life.

Mark Alashaian, outgoing chairman, Emerson, N.J. Alashaian is vice president and branch manager of Starpoint Solutions, LLC, a New York City-area company specializing in staff recruitment, professional development strategies, and enterprise software services. Mark and Nicole Alashaian have two sons, Armen and Shant. A camper for many years as a youngster, Mark comes from a legacy of Camp Haiastan involvement as his mother Rosemary was a long-time board member, and like Mark, board chairperson. Mark served the board as chairman for two terms from 2004 through 2008. As an AYF member and advisor, he has excelled in several leadership roles from serving on the Central Executive to many committees such as the Olympic Organizing Committee and the 75th Anniversary Commemoration to name two of many. The Alashaians are active members of Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of Ridgefield, N.J.

Richard Krikorian, treasurer, Old Tappan, N.J. Financial steward has been Krikorian’s service to Camp Haiastan for the past four years. Retired from a very successful career in financial management on Wall Street, Krikorian maintains a presence in the financial world through his own consulting firm. Of any board member, he speaks most passionately about his vision for the camp. This vision has its roots in his years as a camper, counselor, board member, and parent. He and his wife Maral have two sons, Aram and Hrayr, who have both been campers and staff members as well as current AYF members, following their father’s example. The Krikorian family continues to be active members of the Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of Ridgefield, N.J., where they have served their church community for many years.

Melissa Simonian, clerk/secretary, North Providence, R.I. Simonian is a speech and language pathologist and has worked for many years with Rhode Island youngsters suffering speech, hearing, and language afflictions. Her involvement with Camp Haiastan goes back to her membership in the Providence “Varantian” AYF, which provided the spark for her to attend camp and serve on the staff as a counselor for many seasons. She also served in several leadership capacities in the chapter for many years. Simonian is currently an active member of the Providence ARS “Ani” Chapter and has served on the Sunday School staff of the Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of Providence, R.I., for many years.

Levon Attarian, assistant treasurer, Pawtucket, R.I. For Levon, service to the Armenian community is what occupies his non-working hours. Camp Haiastan, the AYF, ARS, ARF, Homenetmen, and Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of Providence are all grateful recipients of his volunteerism, hard work, and leadership. During Attarian’s term of service to the AYF Central Executive in 2006, he also served the camp as the AYF CE liaison to the camp board. This year marks the beginning of his second two-year term on the Board of Directors. We look for great things from Attarian during this board term.

Joshua Tevekelian, Watertown, Mass. Tevekelian is no newcomer to Camp Haiastan by any stretch of the imagination. He has been a six-year camper, a two-year staff member, and a four-year board member (before returning to the Board for the second time in 2007), at which time he served as board chairman for two years. Counting correctly, that’s well over a dozen years of involvement with Camp Haiastan. Speaking of counting, Tevekelian is a senior accountant at Colony Realty Partners of Boston when he is not serving his Armenian community. Along with service to Camp Haiastan, Tevekelian has been an active member and leader of the Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston, AYF chapters in Framingham and Watertown, Mass., the ARF, ANCA, and St. Stephen’s Armenian Church of Watertown, as well as Big Brothers of Boston, for many years. His leadership involvement with organizations serving Armenian youth has proved invaluable to Camp Haiastan.

Nevart Mikaelian, Stoughton, Mass. Nevart and husband Hratch are most proud of their membership in the “I met my spouse at camp” club. Last year, they welcomed baby Zareh Mikaelian into the world of Camp Haiastan at birth, as they proclaimed him destined for camp just like mom and dad! Nevart Mikaelian is a veteran elementary special education teacher with the Natick, Mass., school system. The Day Camp has been her main project as a board member and she has done a superb job as the Day Camp director for the past three successful seasons. Her experience doesn’t stop at Day Camp as she has served on past camp staffs prior to serving on the board, most notably as camp director for two summers.

Simone Topouzian, West Bloomfield, Mich. Topouzian has been active in Armenian community service for many years in Detroit, along with husband Daron. Both were campers as youngsters, and Simone served as a counselor as well. Their children, Meline, Knar, and Ani, have all attended camp, as will soon-to-be camper, Teny. Meline` has followed in Mom’s footsteps as a member of the 2008 camp staff. The Topouzians are active members and contributors to their church community at the St. Sarkis Armenian Church of Dearborn, Mich.

Michael Shamlian, Radnor, Pa. Michael and Karine Shamlian are another couple that found one another while attending Camp Haiastan. When their children Haig and Nishan begin their camp careers, they will be third-generation campers, as Karine’s father Haig Alemian was a charter member of the first camper group when Camp Haiastan opened its doors in July 1951. Michael is a civil engineer and is project manager for the Real Estate Development Projects for Hill International, Inc. in the Philadelphia area. He was a camper for seven seasons and a counselor for three seasons. Prior to joining the board in an advisory capacity in 2007, Michael and Karine dutifully served Camp Haiastan as Philadelphia community liaisons for fundraising and camper and staff recruitment. In his first year serving on the board, Michael has supercharged Volunteer Work Day events that bring camp alumni and friends together to work on facility and grounds betterment projects for the camp annually. His Armenian community involvement includes service to the AYF and Olympics Committee, the St. Gregory Armenian Church of Philadelphia, the Armenian Sisters Academy of Radnor, Pa., and the Land and Culture Organization (as a summer construction volunteer in Armenia).

With such a corp of talented and dedicated members, it’s easy to see that the governance of Camp Haiastan is in qualified and experienced hands. The board and Baron Roy have been hard at work planning for the 2009 season—the 59th in the camp’s history. Unique challenges for the coming season include a search for the next camp director. Longtime Camp Director Peter Jelalian is retiring as full-season director after more than 16 years as Camp Haiastan’s summer Baron. The board and executive director Callan have begun a nationwide search to attract a qualified successor to Baron Pete. In spite of less than encouraging national economic news, the board is expecting to exceed 2008 enrollment numbers, the sixth season in a row that the previous season’s enrollment has been eclipsed.

The 2009 season kicks off on Sun., June 28 with the popular two-week Teen Session for high schoolers followed by three two-week sessions for 8 to 14-year-old campers. The one-week Day Camp has been growing and is expected to do so again in its fourth year in 2009 for five, six, and seven year olds (from Mon., June 29 to Fri., July 3). First time campers 10 and under can give camp a try for just a week at the “Try It Out” session from Aug. 9-16.

To contact the Camp Haiastan Board of Directors regarding the Director Search or for any reason, email (subject line: Board of Directors or Director Search). All correspondence will be acknowledged in a timely fashion.

Camp Haiastan 2009 Season Schedule (Our 59th Season)

One-Week Day Camp: $350
Mon., July 6 through Fri., July 10
For ages 5, 6 and 7 only
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily 

“Zartonk” Teen Session: $1,395
Sun., June 28 through Sun., July 12
For ages 14-16, and entering at least the 10th Grade in the fall
(We do not accept 14-year-olds who have not completed the 9th Grade or 17-year-olds in the Teen Session.)

Two-Week Overnight Sessions
For ages 8-14
Session 1: Sun., July 12 through Sun., July 26: $1,395
Session 2: Sun., July 26 through Sun., Aug. 9: $1,395
Session 3: Sun., Aug. 9 through Sun., Aug. 23: $1,295

One-Week Overnight “Try It Out Session”: $795
Sun., Aug. 9 through Sun., Aug. 16
For first-time campers ages 8, 9 and 10 only

For more information, visit Camp enrollment inquiries can be directed to Roy Callan, executive director, via email at (Subject Line: Camper Enrollment).

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