Bandazian and Kerneklian Named Vahan Cardashian Awardees
NEW YORK—The Armenian Cultural Association of America (ACAA) announced the honorees for the Third Annual Banquet and Awards Program in support of the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region and its tradition of service to the Armenian American community. The ACAA will host the event, which will take place on Saturday, October 3 at Espace in New York City.
As a key part of the banquet’s awards program, the Vahan Cardashian Award will be presented to the brother-sister pair of Bedros Bandazian and Melanie Kerneklian, both from Richmond, Va., who have dedicated a lifetime of steadfast activism to the ANCA at both local and leadership levels. Influential figures in their state’s political and community life, having served volunteer appointments to a number of state-wide projects and commissions, Bandazian and Kerneklian are among the founders of the Richmond ANC and have led countless grassroots educational campaigns in support of Armenian issues.
Both awardees were instrumental in a campaign aimed at introducing the teaching of the Armenian Genocide into the Virginia standards of learning, an effort that was featured in the PBS documentary series Frontline in March 2002. Both played critical roles in spearheading the Virginia Governor’s Commission on Armenian Affairs under different governors. Alongside many leadership accomplishments within the ACAA, ANCA and ANCA Endowment, Bandazian established a longstanding record of Virginia gubernatorial proclamations related to the Armenian Genocide and has been pivotal in founding the acclaimed Armenian Heritage Cruise, an event that has become a prominent cultural tradition in the Armenian-American community over the last decade. During her tenure as a lead staff member to then Virginia State Delegate Eric Cantor (currently minority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives), Kerneklian was a driving force in educating the Virginia legislature on the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government, supported by it
s lobby and Virginia’s tobacco and defense corporations, responded to these grassroots educational efforts with heavy-handed political maneuvers. Ultimately, these educational efforts resulted in the legislature’s passage of an Armenian Genocide resolution in 2000.
“We are pleased to honor Bedros Bandazian and Melanie Kerneklian with the Vahan Cardashian Award,” said ACAA spokesperson George Aghjayan “These are two individuals who have repeatedly demonstrated the power of grassroots education and activism—especially in a small Armenian community. Their contributions to the ANC and the Armenian community are an inspiration.”
The Vahan Cardashian Award is given annually to an ANCA supporter who demonstrates longstanding dedication and active involvement in the Armenian American community and its issues. The award is named for Yale-educated lawyer Vahan Cardashian who set aside his successful New York practice to dedicate himself to the establishment of the American Committee for the Independence of Armenia (ACIA), predecessor organization to the Armenian National Committee, and to advocate for the plight of the Armenian nation.
Plans are currently being finalized for the banquet. The evening will begin with a silent auction and cocktail reception, followed by dinner and awards program. For more information and reservations, call 312-615-7698.
Established in 1969, ACAA is a 501©3 charitable organization that assists and supports impoverished people of Armenian origin; welfare institutions that aid those of Armenian origin; and educational and charitable organizations that encourage and develop the Armenian cultural heritage. The ACAA also aids students, authors, artists and researchers who are pursuing intellectual efforts in Armenian culture and education, and publishes educational, scientific and literary books that raise the educational, cultural and intellectual standards of the community. The ACAA sponsors projects both in the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora. It also serves as a repository of historic Armenian national documents and archives.