BETHESDA, Md.—On March 29, the Washington Satenig ARS Chapter hosted the annual ARS Eastern USA Regional Education Seminar at the Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church in Bethesda.
The seminar, open to ARS members and friends of the ARS, began with welcoming remarks by Ani Attar, chairwoman of the ARS Eastern USA. Ungerouhi Ani recognized the recent attacks on Kessab and noted that immediately upon hearing the news, the ARS Eastern USA donated $10,000 in funds to the ARS chapter in Latakia to aid the refugees who fled there from Kessab.
Opening Prayers were then offered by Der Sarkis Aktavoukian of the Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church.
The first speaker, Elizabeth Chouldjian, communication director of the ANCA, spoke on the importance of public relations and the distribution of information regarding the humanitarian, fundraising and social service activities that the ARS Eastern USA is involved in. She requested that the ungerouhis take a moment to write down a list of activities that their chapter had carried out in the past 6 months. Elizabeth noted 22 citations in her recent review of publications on the ARS in the Armenian American press. Yet, the chapter representatives provided over 100 different activities.
She stressed that ARS publicity should not be limited to just the Armenian American press, stating that no newspaper, TV station, or radio station is too small to promote ARS activities and create good will in their communities.
The next speaker, Dan Stepanian-Bennett, shared how he had attended the ARS sponsored Summer Studies Program and how it had “opened his heart” to becoming more involved in the Armenian community. Dan is a Digital Producer at MXM and Social Engagement strategist at New Media Strategies. During his talk, he encouraged the ARS as a brand, to include social media as a communication tool and described social media as a collection of virtual communities where groups and individual create share and exchange information and ideas.
An afternoon panel on effective leadership nationally and internationally was moderated by Sarig Armenian and included ungerouhi Valentine Berberian, ARS UN chair; ARS Eastern USA Regional Board member and Kate Nahapetian, government affairs director, ANCA.
Kate spoke about the ANCA’s reaction to the attack on Kessab from the Turkish border, and its sharing with the Obama Administration eyewitness accounts and geographic evidence.
She noted that the State Department went on to condemn the attack on Kessab, however, refused to address any possible association with Turkey. She encouraged the ARS members present to contact their state representatives asking them to request that the State Department revise its statement on the attack on Kessab and Turkey’s involvement.
ungerouhi Valentine began by reading the ARS Mission Statement and followed by a definition of mission drift and expansion. She encouraged ARS Chapters to be familiar with the mission statement and warned of the possible risks of drifting too far from it and used the ARS becoming and active NGO at the UN as a positive example of mission expansion.
Moderator Sarig Armenian asked the panelists to share some of their personal and professional challenges. Ungerouhi Valentine shared her personal experiences at the UN, particularly with issues on women and children and how she dealt with non-friendly countries during the reclassification of the ARS at the UN.
Kate commented on the challenge that both women and men experience attempting to balance work, home life and volunteering for a cause.
The program concluded with a question and answer session.