ANCA Rising Leaders rally support for Artsakh and Armenia

University and high schools students from across the U.S. gather in the nation’s capital for a unique three-day career development and pro-Armenian civic engagement program

ANCA Rising Leaders Session 2 participants with the ANCA staff at the U.S. Capitol, taking a break from visiting over 400 congressional offices.

WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) Rising Leaders program welcomed over two dozen talented Armenian American youth leaders from across the U.S. to Washington, D.C., for a unique three-day career development and civic education immersion seminar. Students participated in two programmatic sessions, held on March 10 to 12 and March 24 to 26, delving into policy, politics and media careers while simultaneously advancing the Armenian American community’s pro-Artsakh/Armenia priorities.

ANCA Rising Leaders Session 1 members with ANCA team members at their Washington, D.C. headquarters as they prepare to head to Capitol Hill for a day of pro-Artsakh/Armenia advocacy efforts.

“The ANCA was once again blessed with a dynamic group of Rising Leaders this year, each bringing their unique perspectives on youth leadership and diverse career interests – all united in their commitment to excel in their fields of study and to advance the cause of justice for Artsakh and Armenia,” said ANCA Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian. “It’s a privilege to team up with the Armenian Youth Federation [AYF] Eastern and Western U.S., our esteemed speakers, generous donors, and above all, our phenomenal participants to make this program an outstanding success.” 

ANCA National Board Member Ani Tchaghlasian kicks off the first session of ANCA Rising Leaders with a powerful presentation on the importance of youth civic engagement in advancing Armenian American community priorities.

During the course of the program, participants sat down with congressional leaders, government, media and communications experts to learn about the many career opportunities that exist in Washington, D.C. This opportunity also allowed individuals to connect and network with other Armenian Americans from across the country.

U.S. State Department Senior Advisor Dr. Robert Krikorian shares insights from his decades-long career in the U.S. foreign policy space and opportunities for greater Armenian American participation in the U.S. diplomatic corps.

Once again this year, the ANCA collaborated with the AYF Eastern and Western U.S. in hosting events, made possible through a generous contribution by Dean Shahinian, Esq. and the family and friends of the late ANCA activist Lucine Kouchakdjian. 

ANCA Rising Leaders Session 1 members honor the memory of Lucine Zadoian Kouchakdjian, the lifelong pro-Armenian civic advocate who inspired generations of Greater Washington, D.C. to Hai Tahd action.

The student participants in the 2024 ANCA Rising Leaders sessions included (in alphabetical order): Ruby Andonian, Ani Apresyan, Amaras Badasian, Armen Bagdassarian, Sevag Berberian, Mariana Gevorgyan, Kyle Hacopian, Sune Hamparian, Milena Harutyunyan, Jackalyn Karamanougian, Kirk Kashian, Isabella Keshishian, Alex Koceyan, Margarita Kochinyan, Syuzanna Kovalenko, Ellin Manoukian, Garren McCauley, Meri Mikoyan, Nonna Mirzoyan, Arek Ourlian, Zorianna Petrosyan, Jemma Pogosian, Ani Ramazyan, Andranik Soghomonian, Meline Tarpinyan, Michael Tatevossian, Bedig Tourousian and Vartan Yildiz.

ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program Advisory Committee members Celine Der Boghosian and Monique Bolsajian offer advice on preparing an effective “elevator pitch” as Rising Leaders prepare to pursue new career opportunities.

Exploring career opportunities in the nation’s capital

As in the past, the first day of the Rising Leaders program focused on career development with a full day of interactive presentations by the ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program Advisory Committee (CGPAC) focusing on job search fundamentals, from resume preparation, effective “elevator pitches” and LinkedIn use to an overview of the Washington, D.C. internship and job market. CGPAC chair emeritus Maria Martirosyan Issakhanian and current chair Tadeh Issakhanian teamed up with Arsen Markarov, Monique Bolsajian and Celine Der Boghosian – all professionals who have excelled in their chosen careers – to offer one-on-one mentoring to the Rising Leaders and insights on best practices in embarking on their post-university job search.

ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program Advisory Committee members reviewing resumes during one-on-one sessions with ANCA Rising Leaders.

Participants also heard insights on diverse careers in the nation’s capital. State Department Senior Advisor Dr. Robert Krikorian and American University professor and former State Department and congressional professional staff member Greg Aftandilian discussed the challenges and opportunities in the U.S. diplomatic and foreign policy community. POLITICO Senior Politics Editor Charlie Mahtesian and Big Whig Media co-founders Ken and Keith Nahigian discussed the importance of having an Armenian American presence and perspective in the national and local media. The HALO Trust Head of Government Affairs Amasia Zargarian and former CGP Advisory Committee member Karoun Tcholakian discussed careers in Washington, D.C.’s vibrant public policy community, while World Bank Group consultant Lusine Stepanyan focused on careers in international development with a focus on entrepreneurship and sustainability.

Big Whig Media founders Ken and Keith Nahigian with ANCA Rising Leaders Session 2 participants, following a discussion of the importance of expanding the Armenian American voice in media.

Pro-Artsakh/Armenia advocacy and the Lucine Kouchakdjian Capitol Hill Day

Defending the rights of the people of Artsakh and safeguarding Armenia’s sovereignty were the primary focuses of keynote remarks by ANCA National Board member Ani Tchaghlasian, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan and ANCA Policy Director Alex Galitsky. Each outlined the ANCA’s ongoing efforts to ensure the dignified and safe return of Artsakh genocide survivors to their homes, to reunite the illegally imprisoned Artsakh officials and prisoners of war with their families, to sanction Azerbaijan for war crimes and to stop all military assistance to Aliyev’s genocidal regime. ANCA National Grassroots Director Gev Iskajyan offered firsthand accounts of the Artsakh genocide and stressed the importance of youth civic engagement in securing justice for that crime. Armenian Legal Center Board member Sarig Armenian, Esq. and Lemkin Institute Executive Director Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey focused on navigating the legal pathways to secure justice for Artsakh under international law. Artsakh Representative in the U.S. Robert Avetisyan shared the diplomatic challenges facing Artsakh and the key role of the global Armenian population in defending the rights of the Artsakh people.

Artsakh Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan outlines the diplomatic challenges and opportunities in the ongoing efforts to secure the dignified return of the forcibly displaced Artsakh population under international protection.

These discussions culminated in the Lucine Kouchakdjian Capitol Hill Day, during which participants visited over 400 congressional offices to educate elected officials and staff about Azerbaijan’s genocide against Artsakh and the Aliyev regime’s existential threat against the Republic of Armenia. Participants also met with members of the Congressional Armenian Staff Association (CASA), who shared insights on careers on Capitol Hill and the importance of expanding Armenian American presence in Washington, D.C.’s policy-making community.

ANCA Rising Leaders join Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan in a congressional staff meeting advancing pro-Artsakh/Armenia priorities.

A word of thanks: Dean Shahinian and Kouchakdjian family continue their commitment to youth education and empowerment

Longtime ANCA supporter Dean Shahinian is again the major sponsor of this unique youth development program along with the family and friends of Lucine Kouchakdjian.

POLITICO Senior Politics Editor Charlie Mahtesian sparks conversations on careers in Washington, D.C.’s vibrant media sector during ANCA Rising Leaders Session 1.

Shahinian served in various capacities in the federal government for over 30 years, including 16 years at the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, where he worked with committee chairs on numerous bills and laws, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Act. In the Armenian community, he has served on the boards of St. Nersess Seminary and the Armenian Students’ Association. He has also served multiple terms on the Diocesan Council of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

Lusine Stepanyan shares insights from her successful career in international development with ANCA Rising Leaders Session 2 members.

For dozens of years, living in the Washington, D.C. area – in addition to her cultural, education and charitable work with a broad range of community organizations – the late Lucine Zadoian Kouchakdjian organized highly effective ANCA campaigns to foster a forward-leaning spirit of civic responsibility among Armenian Americans across the nation’s capital. The Rising Leaders Capitol Hill Day was named in memory of her lifetime of service to the Armenian Cause following her passing last year.

Armenian Legal Center Board member Sarig Armenian, Esq. discusses the intersection of international law and the rights of Artsakh’s forcibly displaced population as efforts to sanction Azerbaijan for its genocidal actions continue.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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