ANCA Eastern Region Announces 14th Annual ANCA-ER Vahan Cardashian Award Recipients

Longtime activists from ANC of Granite City, ANC of Georgia and ANC of Tennessee to be honored at Havak for Hai Tahd: A Virtual Gala Gathering on October 15  

WATERTOWN, Mass. – The Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) will be honoring Bearj Barsoumian, chair of the ANC of Tennessee; Sarkis Agasarkisian, chair of the ANC of Georgia; and Stephen Hagopian, Sr., chair of the ANC of Granite City with the 14th annual Vahan Cardashian Award at its virtual gala this year on Thursday, October 15 at 8 pm EDT.

The annual Vahan Cardashian Award is given to ANCA-ER activist(s) who demonstrate long-standing leadership and success on behalf of the Armenian cause. The award is named in honor of the late Vahan Cardashian who led the American Committee for the Independence of Armenia (ACIA), the precursor to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). This year, the ANCA-ER is honored to present three life-long activists with the award.

Bearj Barsoumian

Bearj Barsoumian, chair of the ANC of Tennessee, was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, by his parents Angela and Karekin Barsoumian, along with his two siblings, Houry and Sarkees Barsoumian. In 1977, Barsoumian and his family moved to the United States and settled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he currently resides with his wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.

As a family, they actively work to help strengthen ties between Armenia and the United States. Barsoumian is a leader in the Armenian community, attending events to network with his senators and representatives. His advocacy efforts have led him on countless trips to district and state offices, as well as the nation’s Capital where he’s met with staffers and Congressional members to keep them abreast of the legislative priorities of his fellow Tennesseans and the Armenian Diaspora.

As a grassroots organizer for the ANCA-ER, Barsoumian has spent countless hours working with the organization. His efforts have led to stopping passage of H.Res.145, an anti-Armenian resolution initiated by pro-Azerbaijani forces in the State of Tennessee, as well as a similar resolution in Alabama. He is also working with officials in the Volunteer State to help the ANCA’s work on policy issues, from securing a Double Tax Treaty between the US and Armenia, to creating awareness of an imperative investigation into the Madrid Principles—a profoundly flawed proposition being advanced by the US Department of State, which attempts to relinquish Artsakh’s hard won independence to Azerbaijan.

Sarkis Agasarkisian

Born in Armenia in 1957, Sarkis Agasarkisian moved to the United States in 1978 where he spent 30 years in law enforcement while also being active in his family’s businesses. Agasarkisian studied accounting, business management and computer science and earned his master’s degree in computer science and later his Juris Doctorate.

Agasarkisian is heavily involved in the Armenian American community of Georgia and has spent 35 years working on Armenian Genocide recognition in the state of Georgia and in Washington, D.C. As the chair of ANC of Georgia, he has organized its annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the Georgia State Capitol countless times. Last year, Agasarkisian welcomed attendees to the event which draws dozens of officials and thanked them for their recognition of the Armenian Genocide, specifically for their refusal to continue Turkey’s gag rule in the US.

Additionally, Agasarkisian made his way to Armenia and Artsakh in 2019 with members of the Georgia delegation as he has worked tirelessly for more than a decade with federal, state and local officials for the safety and security of Artsakh. A prime result of his activism, Georgia was the sixth US state to pass legislation recognizing the independence of Artsakh.

Agasarkisian received Harutyunyan’s presidential award, the Medal of Gratitude, which is given to individuals and organizations for their tremendous contribution in restoring and developing the economy, science and culture, of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, as well as for helping promote international recognition of the Republic.

Stephen Gregory Hagopian, Sr.

Last, but certainly not least, Stephen Gregory Hagopian, Sr. was born in Granite City, Illinois. He is the son of Andrew and Angeline Hagopian. He graduated from Granite City High School and later received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Westminster College in 1977.

Hagopian has been heavily involved in the Armenian American community along with his brothers, Michael and Jeffrey. He served multiple terms as the National Representative Assembly Delegate from the Granite City Parish. He has also served on the Eastern Prelacy Executive Council for 12 years – he was an advisor for two years, then Secretary for four years, as well as a Chairperson of the Executive Council for six years. He was also a member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) “Antranig” chapter and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) “Hrair” Gomideh for 45 years. He created the ANC of Southern Illinois along with local activists and co-created the ANC of Missouri with former and current AYF members.

He has been a member of St. Gregory Parish Church for approximately 40 years where he served as Board of Trustee (BoT) member for 24 years. Additionally, he led the construction of the new St. Gregory Church in 1997 and served as chairman of the BoT for 12 years.

Hagopian currently serves as a member of the AYF Central Executive’s Alumni Council, remains active as one of the key contacts with Southern Illinois’ Congressional Representatives and works as the vice president of Sales and Marketing at Egg Innovations, which he has done for the past 11 years.

He has focused on bringing younger generations of ANC activists into both the ANC of Southern IL and ANC of Missouri in order to help them learn and carry on the work of the ANC. Nothing makes him more proud than seeing former AYF members grow into positions of leadership in the AYF, ANC and church community.

“On behalf of the ANCA Eastern Region, I’d like to congratulate this year’s ANCA Eastern Region Vahan Cardashian Award recipients Bearj Barsoumian, Sarkis Agasarkisian and Stephen Hagopian, Sr. These three extremely deserving individuals are a testament to our commitment to grassroots activism. Together with their communities, they have worked to create real change, awareness and garner support of our legislative priorities in their home states and in Washington DC. We look forward to presenting them with their awards on October 15,” said Steve Mesrobian, co-chair of the ANCA-ER’s Virtual Gala.

The region will also honor individuals at the virtual event with the prestigious ANCA-ER Freedom Award, along with the inaugural ANCA-ER One to Watch Award.

The Eastern Region’s summer interns and the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Program interns will also be recognized.

For more information about this year’s gala email:

Lori Baronian

Lori Baronian

Lori Baronian is a junior at The College of New Jersey pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She is an active member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), the Hamazkayin Nairi Dance Ensemble and The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

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