Successful ARS Seminar Focuses on Leadership Skills, Values, and Reconnection

DETROIT, Mich.—The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA members convened in Detroit to learn more about ways to hone their leadership skills and reconnect to the values that have driven the ARS for over 100 years.

The seminar participants

Hosted by Detroit’s five ARS chapters—Maro, Shakeh, Sybille, Tsolig, and Zabelle—the seminar was held at the behest of the 2016 ARS Eastern USA Convention, which has passed similar resolutions in the past to boost the educational opportunities for ARS members.

The event attracted ARS of Eastern USA members and friends, and members from ARS Canada’s Windsor chapter, just across the Detroit River and minutes away from the St. Sarkis Church hall seminar location.

The seminar kicked off with a “Team Building and Leadership” session led by guest speaker Kathy Tosoian, Dale Carnegie Training director of educational services and youth development.  Tosoian based her session on Dale Carnegie leadership principles.

A scene from the seminar

Working in small groups, participants discussed the purpose of their “team,” the ARS, what their own role is on that ARS “team,” and how those roles contribute to the ARS’s success. Participants reported out the benefits they’ve experienced working on their ARS “team” and reflected on the value additional focused teambuilding could have on their ARS work.

Tosoian also introduced participants to Dale Carnegie’s first nine human relations principles as set forth in his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Among the compelling human relations principles Tosoian conveyed were “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain,” “Give honest, sincere appreciation,” and “Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.” In their workgroups, participants discussed the positive impact applying the Carnegie principles into daily leadership roles could have on membership and community relations.

A scene from the seminar

Tosoian’s session concluded with a fun team-building exercise called “The Marshmallow Challenge” which required grouped participants to build a freestanding structure using 20 dry spaghetti pieces, a string, and tape and topping off that structure with a marshmallow.

The afternoon was devoted to “Reconnecting to our ARS Purpose: Emblem, Anthem, Oath, Purpose, Objectives” led by Ungh. Georgi-Ann Oshagan, past ARS Eastern USA and Central Executive board member and Detroit ARS Maro chapter member.

Oshagan emphasized the tendency of leaders and members of any organization to find themselves in a rut and responding to feelings of organizational alienation or frustration by withdrawing or repeating activities year after year to satisfy community responsibilities. She noted that experts encourage employees and volunteers—especially of non-profit organizations—to rejuvenate by reaching deep and reflecting on the organizational values that originally compelled them to connect and join the non-profit in the first place.

In interactive large group activities, Oshagan challenged participants to name the ARS’s values by reflecting on the ARS emblem’s components, and continued to connect the participants’ values list to the ARS anthem, member oath, and purpose and objectives as set forth in the ARS Eastern USA Constitution and Bylaws.  She returned to the emblem to ask participants to reflect on the ARS’s image and its daily chapter work vis a vis the ARS’s stated objectives. The connection among the ARS’s founding values touchstones formed the foundation for a rousing group discussion that focused on the leadership tools needed to develop chapter activities that are aligned with the ARS’s purpose and mission.

ARS members at the seminar

The session concluded with every participant describing her post-session state of mind using one word, which included “inspired,” “hopeful,” and “informed.”

ARS Eastern USA Chairwoman Talin Daghlian closed the seminar by thanking participants for taking the time to attend and noting that the ARS values and reconnection session will be part of a larger ARS leadership educational training that will be presented at the upcoming July ARS Eastern USA convention for implementation in the upcoming fiscal year.

For more information about the ARS Eastern USA or to join a chapter near you, contact the ARS Eastern USA office at (617) 926-3801 or write to


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