MI State Rep. Mari Manoogian Lends Voice to 2020 DNC Keynote

Thousands of Armenian Americans were beaming with pride Tuesday night during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) when a certain familiar face from Michigan appeared on-screen. The chyron read in big, bold letters—MICHIGAN STATE REP. MARI MANOOGIAN.

“I’m so grateful that our community was able to have that representation last night,” said Rep. Manoogian (D-Birmingham) during an interview with the Weekly the following morning. “Armenian Americans have been at the forefront of public service in this country since we came here, so to have that opportunity and to be recognized in this way was just so humbling for me to be the person that was the face of it,” she continued.

The 27-year-old was hand-picked by the presidential campaign for Democratic candidate Joe Biden to help deliver the keynote address on night two of the DNC along with 16 other elected officials and rising stars in the Democratic Party. “We can never let hard times turn us against each other,” she said during the historic virtual event as part of a pre-produced, 13-minute segment taped from her makeshift studio inside her home office with resources and technology shipped from the Biden campaign. 

A behind-the-scenes look at Rep. Mari Manoogian filming her keynote address (Photo provided by Manoogian’s office)

Rep. Manoogian, who is serving her first term representing Michigan’s 40th district (Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and a portion of West Bloomfield Township), highlighted small businesses and the auto industry in the broadcast. But it was her reference to Biden’s now-infamous colorful use of language from his 2010 aside with President Barack Obama upon the passage of the Affordable Care Act that arguably became one of the more memorable moments of the evening. Rep. Manoogian inched her head toward the camera and uttered convincingly, “That’s a big effing deal”—a scripted punchline that was emphasized in unison by a grid of four other elected officials. Manoogian, who is now the face of a viral GIF on social media, says all kidding aside, “The issue of making sure that every American has access to the care that they need was definitely important to be front and center.”


A longtime supporter of Mr. Biden, Rep. Manoogian reflected on their first meeting several years ago when she tweeted about his book tour coming to Ann Arbor, Mich. Biden ‘liked’ Manoogian’s tweet and within moments, she was contacted by one of his staffers, who invited both Manoogian and her father—a labor union leader—to meet the Vice President. “That was the happiest I’ve ever seen my father…other than the night I won my election,” recalled Manoogian.

Speaking of Twitter, moments before Tuesday’s broadcast, Rep. Manoogian shared a heartwarming video of an Armenian girl named Karina who congratulated her role model before bedtime. “I was just floored,” exclaimed Manoogian tearfully. “I have very few words to describe it. As an Armenian American, there’s very few of us that have this opportunity. When you run for office, you hope that you can be a role model and that your message is getting out.” Manoogian also stirred the hearts of her Armenian audiences on Tuesday night when she was seen wearing a stunning gold «Է» necklace, the seventh letter of the Armenian alphabet and a symbol of Christianity for Armenians. It traditionally adorns the apex of Armenian church altars. “I want people to know without me having to say it that I am very proud of my heritage,” said Manoogian, who is often asked about the meaning behind her jewelry and uses it as a teaching opportunity.


The great-grandchild of Armenian Genocide survivors says she’s proud to represent Diasporan Armenians and amplify her voice as a member of a political party that is trying to promote a message of inclusion and diversity. In addition to campaigning for Biden’s election, Rep. Manoogian is running for re-election herself. She says her plan for her second term in office would include restructuring public education in Michigan and developing regional public transit options. 

Leeza Arakelian

Leeza Arakelian

Assistant Editor
Leeza Arakelian is the assistant editor for the Armenian Weekly. She is a formally trained broadcast news writer and a graduate of UCLA and Emerson College. Leeza has written and produced for local and network television news including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America.
Leeza Arakelian

@LeezaYeretzian

Assistant Editor @armenianweekly, Former @boston25 writer, Assoc. Producer @AmericaTonight (Al Jazeera America), @ecjrn 2012, @ucla 2010
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7 Comments

  1. Mari, we are very proud of you, and we love the rug in your behind-the scenes room! A sure giveaway that an “Armenian lives here!” On a serious note, thank you for working to get Joe Biden elected and to help restore our nation to its former standing at home and in the world.

  2. Good job Mari,
    Please make sure that Biden does not allow Erdogan lobbyists in his circle and not get hypnotized by them as a Trump allowed himself to be.
    Best to you,
    Hatchoroutyoun= success to you

  3. Joe Biden already has appointed Elvir Klempic, a Bosnian Turk as his National Etnic Engagement Director. Elvir Klempic was the former Director of Turkish Heritage Organization, THO. THO has the full blessing and financial support of Rejep Tayip Erdogan, president of Turkey. THO is supported also by Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law and current Minister of Finance of Turkey. By the way Joe Biden SHOULD AND MUST KNOW that THO IS A 501 C-3 U.S. Tax Exempt Organization and CANNOT ENGAGE IN POLITICAL ACTIVITIES. We are very sure that Bosnian Turk ELVIR KLEMPIC IN HIS POSITION AS DIRECTOR WILL HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT IN ALL BIDEN’S ETHNIC DECISIONS SPECIALLY ON AMERICAN-ARMENIAN COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. This is a public knowledge. We expect CONCERNED ARMENIANS TO ACT ON THIS IMPORTANT MATTER.

  4. Abris, Rep. Mari! What a wonderful role model for young girls to have someone with a name like theirs representing Armenians and Americans nationally! Be bold. Stand on solid ground. Do not waver. We’re behind you!! The world is yours and you hold ours in your hands!!

  5. Ms. Manookian proud of you and your position in the US Congress. I am sure you could name 1 thing Biden has done for Armenia and the Armenians in his 42 years in the Senate and 8 years as the VP. Then I will join you supporting him.

  6. Several facts about joe biden should be known

    1. Joe Bident is not a friend of the Armenian community. As vice president, his administration did not support the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

    2. The obama/biden administration forced Armenia to sign the protocals, which stopped the Armenian Genocide Resolution in Congress during his time. The protocals would also have forced Armenia to make absurd concessions to turkey. Thankfully the protocals never became reality. This makes biden/obama worse then other former or latter administrations.

    3.Joe Biden’s ethnic engagement director elvir klempic is an ethnic turk with close ties to turkeys president.

    4. The Armenian Genocide Resolution passed after biden was no longer in the Senate or vice president.
    Joe Biden does not deserve the support of the Armenian community.

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