ANCA Desk: The Importance of Activating Our Local ANCs

It’s no secret that the power of most Armenian organizations lies within our local communities. From California to New York, and everywhere in between, we rely on our local leaders to step up, motivate others, and produce results.

Look for more ideas in this column in the coming weeks.
Look for more ideas in this column in the coming weeks.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is no exception to this norm. We are a grassroots organization that advocates on behalf of the Armenian-American community, and though we may have a few individuals who lead regions, the bulk of what we do is thanks to you.

The ANCA Eastern Region has at least 25 local chapters, many of which are manned by a small handful of the same people who lead other Armenian organizations. We’re always grateful for their help, but wouldn’t it be great if we had 20-30 people in each local ANC chapter participating and leading their respective communities? It’s always exciting to develop new talent and help those who are already spread thin. Nothing would make me happier than to see an explosion of local activity in the Eastern Region.

To that end, I’d like to offer some tips for our local committees that are perhaps struggling or at a standstill without much direction. We’ve got the power to influence policy-making at every level in this country, and you should your voice and actions to cause change.


How to get the community involved


Many ANC chapters have been successful in promoting Hai Tahd by sponsoring single lectures or lecture series, letter-writing campaigns, panel discussions, demonstrations, and mass mailing efforts, among other things. Update that a bit to the world we live in now and you’ll see the same efforts but with slight tweaks (e.g., e-mails and Action Alerts instead of writing letters).

If you see an Action Alert on the ANCA website,, go ahead and follow the phone scripts or sign the e-mail. But take it a step further. Why not host a community phone-banking event? If the alert requires hundreds of calls to Congress, why not have your local ANC organize your community to account for 200 of those calls?

Hosting a lecture series or a town hall meeting is also a great way to engage your community. You don’t necessarily need a particular reason to do so either. Say you want to educate your community about Artsakh and the struggle for independence. Ask me (or any other leader in the Eastern Region) to help you find speakers and make it happen. Making that phone call is half the battle; once you get the ball rolling, organizing an event becomes a breeze with experience.

I would encourage those communities that have never sponsored a lecture to start with one to gauge public reaction first before diving into an extensive lecture series. It’s important to reach out to regional leadership if you’re venturing into new territory, just to ensure you have the help you need.

If you choose to pursue a lecture, here are some tips to guide the process:

  1. Choose a relevant topic that will both educate the public and communicate the ANC’s direction.
  2. Compile a list of Armenian and non-Armenian speakers (professors, human rights leaders, genocide scholars) who are experts or knowledgeable about the topic. Try to get the best speaker, using a list in order of preference. Be flexible if your first choice can’t make it.
  3.  Publicize the event once you’ve secured a lecturer and have a date set.
  4. Send flyers to the public using your community mailing list, and send event announcements to sister organizations.
  5. 5.      Send a brief press release to The Armenian Weekly and Hairenik Weekly to publicize the event, as well as your church newsletter. Regional staffers can help edit and distribute press releases to all media.
  6. Don’t forget non-Armenian media. Send public service announcements to TV/radio stations, and press releases to newspapers and magazines and to university campuses. Students love attending these events.
  7. If the lecture is a success and you think your community could support a lecture series, develop one! It can be a few months later, but take your time with it and give the community something ANC-related to look forward to.

These are just a few tips to engage your community. Look for more ideas in this column in the coming weeks.

And, as always, if you ever need guidance, have a question, or just want to chat, e-mail me at

Michelle Hagopian

Michelle Hagopian

Michelle Hagopian is the chairwoman of AYF-YOARF Central Executive. She has served as the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region.


  1. There is a symposium at the UN April 4th, 2013 “TOWARD PREVENTING GENOCIDE” Nations Acknowledging their dark history.” .

    ALL ARE WELCOME to these meaningful exciting events! We will behin with a Michael Hagopian movie and finish with A.Dinelaris, Playright/Director, Art as a way to remember and understand.

    We will be very pleased to have ANC become a junior or senior co-sponsor..

    Register/Please contact : or

  2. Although all the 7 suggestions must be done on a local basis, no mention on the what must be done now to have Washington recognize our long delayed & well documented Armenian Genocide for the 100th Anniversary in the year 2015. My suggestions which should be started now is to get petitions written up and send to the State Dept., the President, & the new Secretary of State, John Kerry with millions of signatures signed not only by Armenians, Greeks & Assyrians, but also the American public. Also, a must is demonstrations not only in Washington but in all major cities through out the country. Demonstrations should also be done in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington whom does not recognize our Genocide. The ANCA must also work with the Armenian Embassy & the Armenian Government to have our issues passed. The last issue is to push for a U.S. Postal Souvenir Sheet as well as the United Nations Postal System to issue a stamp for the 100th Anniversary of our Armenian Genocide. A year ago I sent letters to all Organizations & Church Groups on this issue but no response. We are all too slow in bringing our people together on a United basis.

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