Lorig Charkoudian, originally from Newton, Massachusetts, won the Democratic Primary for the Maryland House of Delegates to represent District 20 (the area that includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring, Md.), with the help of dozens of volunteers who worked on her campaign and over 9,000 votes from residents.
Charkoudian whose stated slogan is, “Join us to build a more just and inclusive Maryland,” has dedicated more than two decades to public service in her state. This work has taken her everywhere from schools to farms, neighborhoods, courtrooms, small businesses, hospitals, government agencies, and even prisons.
She has developed innovative programs to reduce prison recidivism, written legislation for food security and public health, worked with the courts to increase access to justice for low income people, developed programs to build community wealth, provided violence prevention services, and marched in the streets for social justice.
“I grew up eating the churtmah, merjumek, dolma, taboule, and babaganoush that my grandmothers and mother made from vegetables grown in their gardens. This food fed our community and our souls, and was good for our bodies and the environment.”
Charkoudian has been the driving force in the growth of Crossroads Farmers Market and the development of the Takoma Park Silver Spring Commercial Kitchen where local entrepreneurs, many of them immigrants, share the kitchen’s facilities as they develop their food based businesses.
She credits her appreciation for the power of food as an economic engine and community builder to her Armenian upbringing. “I grew up eating the churtmah, merjumek, dolma, taboule, and babaganoush that my grandmothers and mother made from vegetables grown in their gardens. This food fed our community and our souls, and was good for our bodies and the environment.”
Currently, Charkoudian is the Executive Director of Community Mediation Maryland, a non-profit organization that provides training and resources for individuals to mediate disputes within their own communities.
Charkoudian has a PhD in Economics from Johns Hopkins University, thus bringing an analytical approach to policy making.
Charkoudian, mother of Aline (age 15) and Raffi (age 12) who were heavily involved in her campaign, was raised in a political family. Her mother, Bethel Bilezikian Charkoudian, was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960’s and currently serves on the Newton Parks and Recreation Commission, representing the commission as she also serves on the Newton Farm Commission. Her father, Levon Charkoudian, was Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Community Affairs under Governor Francis Sargent.
Charkoudian’s family has always had a strong presence and active involvement in the Armenian Community. Two of Lorig’s grandparents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Her aunt, Arppie Charkoudian, was the International President of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS). Charkoudian herself attended the AGBU Armenian Elementary School in Watertown, Massachusetts.