Notes from the First Two ‘Armenian Town Halls’ in New York City

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More than a dozen Armenian professionals recently convened in New York City for what’s being called “NYC Armenian Town Hall.” The second of its kind, this town hall featured representatives from local community organizations and discussed relevant news items in the Armenia Diaspora. The town hall took place on October 18, 2018 at Fordham University in Manhattan.

The first town hall happened on August 16; agenda items included the “high-energy but uncoordinated Armenian community in NYC,” as well as the multi-million dollar sales of the Armenian Home in Queens and air rights for St. Vartan Cathedral in Manhattan. The meeting posed questions like, “How can local Armenian individuals and organizations become more aware of major decisions that impact the welfare of their local Armenian community when they lack even a simple roster of the 100+ Armenian organizations and institutions in the region?”

The meeting resulted in the creation of a steering committee, which produced a roster of local Armenian organizations with contact information. And like some other ethnic communities based in New York, they proposed to explore a new “federation” of Armenian organizations in the city, inviting each one to provide a representative.

During the October town hall, representatives from local community organizations reported on their community activities.The Armenian Bar Association was led by attorneys Armen Morian and Susan Kassapian, who discussed their recent salute to public servants like NYC District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, their visit to the Metropolitan Museum’s new “Armenia!” exhibition, and an all-day law conference on international entrepreneurship.

President of the local Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA) Allen Berber recounted recent AESA public lecture series and outreach to colleagues in Yerevan. The Armenian Relief Society’s UN Representative Valentine Berberian noted that the ARS represents 18,000 Armenian women in 26 nations, and is a registered consultant to the United Nations since 1970.

The Armenian Assembly of America’s Executive Director Bryan Ardouny noted the Assembly was formed in 1972 to unify Armenian-Americans; since 1977, AAA has hosted a student internship program in Washington D.C., which currently seeks interns for 2019 [4].

Anoush TerTaulian noted the exclusive and inaccessible nature of many events in the New York Armenian community. She said it has become less about getting together as a community, and more about accumulating wealth, as many Armenians in NYC are not connected with Armenian organizations or social media, and need help to pay for admission to costly gatherings.

Also circulated during the meetnig was a 900-page “Armenian Yellow Pages and Almanac 2007,” with 30 sections including national rosters of North American Armenian churches, schools, organizations, attorneys, and physicians. Sadly, the hard copy of this valuable annual series ended in 2007, but partly survives online.

After much deliberation, several participants volunteered to explore two new projects: (1) expand the roster of NYC organizations, and (2) design a survey of local Armenian community needs. These two projects will meet on their own, and decide on the timing of a future Town Hall, perhaps on November 15. For more details on these meetings, contact Lucine at NewYorkHye@gmail.com.

Harold Takooshian

Harold Takooshian

Harold Takooshian, PhD, is on the faculty of Fordham University since 1975, where he is Professor of Psychology & Urban Studies, and Director of the Organizational Leadership Program (2004-2018). He completed his PhD in Psychology in 1979 at CUNY with Stanley Milgram. He is a researcher, teacher, consultant, whose work is described in Marquis' Who's Who in the World. As a co-founder and past-President of the APA Division of International Psychology, he has served with the United Nations, and chaired its NGO Habitat Committee on Human Settlements (2008-2010).

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