NAASR holds 68th Annual Assembly, welcomes distinguished new board members

BELMONT, Mass.The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) welcomes four highly accomplished new members to its 27-person Board of Directors, after elections held during its 68th Annual Assembly of Members on Saturday, November 5, 2022. The new Board members are Dr. Nick Akgulian of Racine, WI; Brian Ansbigian of Stoneham, MA; assistant professor Mihran Aroian of Austin, TX; and Gerald Papazian of Palos Verdes Estates, CA.

NAASR is honored to welcome these talented, distinguished and committed new members to its Board to work together toward achieving its mission in advancing Armenian Studies.

At a meeting of its Board of Directors following the Annual Assembly, officers elected for 2022-23 are chairperson Judith Saryan of Cambridge, MA; first vice-chairperson Roxanne Etmekjian of West Newton, MA; second vice-chairperson Mark A. Momjian of Philadelphia, PA; secretary Arlene Saryan Alexander of Washington, D.C.; treasurer Bruce W. Roat of Los Angeles, CA; advisors Ara Araz of Franklin Lakes, NJ and Nancy R. Kolligian of Watertown, MA.

Incumbents re-elected for three-year terms were Edward Avedisian of Lexington, MA; Jirair Balayan of Auburn, MA; Dr. Susan Barba of Cambridge, MA; Nancy Kricorian of New York, NY; Arlene Saryan Alexander; and Shushan M. Teager of Belmont, MA.

NAASR is grateful to the three outgoing board members for their years of dedication, generosity and excellent service: Marta T. Batmasian of Boca Raton, FL; Dr. Bedross Der Matossian of Lincoln, NE; Dr. Jesse Matossian of Woodland Hills, CA; and Stepan Piligian of Westford, MA.

NAASR has been very fortunate for having a visionary and dedicated leader as its chairperson for the past seven years, Yervant Chekijian, who has led NAASR’s growth including the completion of its splendid building. Chekijian’s commitment to NAASR as a longtime member for more than 50 years and as a board member for more than 20 years has set an example of genuine dedication and true generosity that will remain an integral part of NAASR.

NAASR is also thankful to its dedicated volunteers who assist the organization in many different ways by sharing their time and expertise.

Distinguished New Board Members

The new NAASR Board members are experienced professionals in their respective fields.

Dr. Nick Akgulian of Racine, Wisconsin attended the University of Wisconsin for both undergraduate and medical school. He completed residency in family practice, working as a family practitioner in the Racine area for much of the time between 1995-2021. From 2001-02, Dr. Akgulian lived and worked in Armenia for a World Bank/USAID project involving health care reform. From 2003-05, he lived and worked in Central America in Belize as medical director of Hillside Clinic, Toledo District. In January 2021, Dr. Akgulian resumed the medical directorship at Hillside until July 2022, at which time he traveled to live and work in Artsakh for two months on a health care reform project in the Martuni region, sponsored by the Tufenkian Foundation and the Armenian American Medical Association (AAMA) Boston.  Involvement with the Armenian community has taken many forms, including as a NAASR member; being a founding member of the MidEast Beat Armenian folk band; St. Nerses summer study graduate; Armenian Assembly summer intern; St. Mesrob Armenian Church (Racine) Parish Council member; cofounder of the Racine Armenian Coalition organization; Armenian studies in Venice; a number of trips into Anatolia beginning in 1984, most recently 2019; living in Armenia the spring of 1992 and providing relief to earthquake survivors and war refugees; and numerous trips to Armenia with Fuller Housing to participate in home construction.

Brian Ansbigian of Stoneham, Massachusetts has been an active member of the Armenian community since adolescence. As a boy, he attended Sunday School at St. James Armenian Church and went on to study Armenian language for several years at the church’s Mesrob Mashdotz Institute. Ansbigian was an active ACYOA and AGBU Young Professionals member for many years. Ansbigian completed his undergraduate studies in finance and Middle Eastern studies at Boston University. His experience with the curriculum sparked a lifelong interest in supporting the advancement of research and study of Armenian topics. Ansbigian currently works in mergers and acquisitions within the technology industry and has prior professional experience in investment banking, corporate strategy and business development. Ansbigian is passionate about Armenian culture and history. Deeply interested in Armenian music, he has studied the oud and various genres of Armenian and Middle Eastern music since age 16. He maintains a large collection of antique ouds and has performed extensively across New England, including at the opening of NAASR’s Vartan Gregorian building.

Mihran Aroian of Austin, Texas is a longtime NAASR member. Aroian has been on the faculty at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and a visiting professor at the Manoogian Simone College of Business & Economics in Yerevan. In Texas, Aroian was instrumental in passing House Resolution 191 and becoming the 46th state to recognize the Armenian Genocide, having the Texas Commission on Holocaust and Genocide include the Armenian Genocide in their educational programs, and having the Texas Education Agency include the Armenian Genocide in Texas public school social studies curriculum. Aroian has an eclectic background as a scientist, venture capitalist, entrepreneur and instructor. Previously, Aroian was the co-founder of TMI Capital, Amicus Networks and Science Partners. Having worked for Austin Ventures, Aroian has a background in working with entrepreneurial firms in the US and Armenia and is currently consulting with a cardiovascular biotech company in Boston.

Gerald (Jerry) Papazian of Palos Verdes Estates, California is currently the managing director of Fountainhead Associates, Inc., a management consulting firm he founded, which specializes in helping entrepreneurs start and grow new businesses. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California (USC) with a degree in economics and received his JD/MBA degree from UCLA, where he was a member of the law review. Papazian has been a NAASR Leadership Circle member since 2013 and an active member of his local community. Papazian became chairman of the Armenian Film Foundation after the death of Dr. J. Michael Hagopian, and along with Carla Garapedian, successfully led the effort to include digitized and indexed copies of Dr. Hagopian’s 400 filmed interviews of witnesses and survivors of the Armenian Genocide into the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, founded by filmmaker Steven Spielberg. He was a member of the USC Board of Trustees and served as president of the USC Alumni Association. He is currently president of the US Capitol Page Alumni Association and serves on the board of the Pomegranate Foundation and the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. He is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.



Founded in 1955, NAASR is one of the world’s leading resources for advancing Armenian Studies, supporting scholars, and building a global community to preserve and enrich Armenian culture, history, and identity for future generations.

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