ARS of Eastern US

ARS of Eastern USA Convenes its 102nd Convention in Richmond, Virginia

The 102nd Convention of the Armenian Relief Society Eastern United States of America (ARS-EUSA) was held from July 14 to July 16, 2023, in Richmond, Virginia. Thirty-eight (38) delegates representing twenty-one (21) chapters, the Regional Executive Board, organizational representatives, and observers and guests attended the convention.

The 102nd Convention was called to order on July 14, 2023 with the singing of the Anthems of the Republic of Armenia, the United States of America, and the Armenian Relief Society. Then during its opening ceremony, Chamavonian invited the delegates to observe a moment of silence in honor of ARS members, benefactors, and supporters of the organization who passed away during the year. In her remarks she thanked the chapters for their unwavering dedication and support for the regional and international programs by saying “Your dedication embodies the spirit of an exemplary Armenian woman, a caring mother, and a compassionate sister.”

Later on, Silva Kouyoumdjian, ARS CEB representative and the region’s liaison; Georgi Oshagan, member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern US Central Committee; Aline Baghdassarian, representative of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, and Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Armenian Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Church, made remarks on behalf of their respective organizations thanking their partnership with the ARS EUSA and wishing the organization success. A letter from the Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union was also read. Also in attendance was Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian of Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church of Greater Washington D.C. On behalf of the Virginia “Hooys” Chapter, Leiza Bouroujian and Sona Kerneklian Pomfret welcomed the guests to their state and Murad Kerneklian, a representative of the ARF “Vrej” Chapter of Virginia relayed his congratulatory remarks and thanked the organization for being dedicated to the organization’s motto “With the People, For the People.” Then the delegates participated in a reception hosted by Regional Executive Board.

The Convention was chaired by Ungh. Mimi Parseghian (Lowell “Lousintak” of MA), and Sevan Koledjian (Washington D.C. “Satenig”) and Ungh. Meline Topouzian (Cambridge “Shushi” of MA), and Lisa Kupelian (Detroit “Maro” of IL) served the secretaries of the meeting and diligently kept minutes throughout the weekend. Ungh. Nayiri Balanian (Philadelphia “Artemis” of PA) served as the Armenian secretary. 

The Convention guests were Ungh. Angele Manoogian, Ungh. Ani Attar, Ungh. Maral Nakkashian and Ungh. Stella Bandazian. Ungh. Lucine Melikian, a member of the newly established member of the ARS “Sevan” Chapter of Tampa, FL was also invited to the convention as a guest, along with Susie Kanian-Andriole (Cambridge “Shushi”).

On Friday night, Silva Kouyoumdjian, the treasurer and liaison to the Eastern Region, presented the 2022-2023 Report of the Central Executive Board. The report summarized the the emergency relief efforts undertaken and the various programs implemented by ARS in the homeland and around the world.

During the Convention, Floria Kasbarian (New Jersey “Agnouni”), Pearl Teague (Vermont “Noor”), Tamitza Dakesian (Detroit “Tzolig” of IL), Anoush Bargamian (Chicago “Zabelle”), and Nora Hovanesian Mann (Bergen Country “Armenouhi” of NJ) served as members of the Convention’s Nominating Committee.

The Correspondence Committee, responsible for reviewing the files and minutes of the Regional Office, included Ungh. Fimy Ishkhanian (Philadelphia “Ani” of PA), Violet Krikorian (Providence “Arax” of RI), and Ungh. Sirvart Telbelian (“Shakeh” of NJ). The Auditing Committee members were Lena Mekhsian (“Agnouni” of NJ), Danielle Shegerian (“Satenig” of Washington D.C.), and Suzi Kevorkian (Cambridge “Leola Sassouni” of MA). The Resolutions Committee, tasked with gathering decisions and intentions for future projects and plans for both the regional and the 73rd international convention were comprised of Yn. Maggie Kouyoumjian (“Shakeh” Chapter of NJ), Linda Wyatt (Worcester “Knar” of MA), and Talin Teague (“Noor” VT).

On Saturday, July 15, the meeting began with the presentation of the activities of the Eastern United States, where it was announced that more than $430,000 has been allocated by the ARS of Eastern USA to local, regional, and global projects. Delegates expressed their appreciation to the Board and staff for their work during the fiscal year and commended their commitment to the organization’s humanitarian mission. Throughout the day, organizational topics, such as recruitment and expanding membership, program evaluation and expansion, marketing/public relations, and increasing financial resources, were discussed. The Resolutions Committee presented a list of goals to guide the newly elected Regional Executive Board in the upcoming fiscal year and a list of resolutions that Eastern Region delegates will present to the 73rd International Convention, which will be held in October of 2023 in Yerevan, Armenia. The convention also heard a report about the activities of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF) of Eastern Region from Niree Kaprielian, member of the Central Executive.

On Saturday night, a banquet in honor of the 102nd International Convention Delegates was hosted at the Omni International Hotel in Vermont, VA. On behalf of the chapter, Chairperson Ungh Sona Kerneklian welcomed the guests to Virginia and talked about the chapter’s name Hooys (Յոյս) which translates to hope and how it is dear to each members’ heart because “the name encapsulates how the ARS continues to provide hope for Armenia and Armenians around the world through its activities and especially with the youth who are the hope for the continuation of our heritage, culture, traditions, and the Armenian spirit.”

Then, ARS Regional Executive Board Chairperson Ungh. Chamavonian thanked the outgoing executive members Ungh Irma Kassabian and Carol Jaffarian who diligently and wholeheartedly served on the board during the past four years and congratulated the newly elected board members. Also in attendance were Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, ARS CEB member Ungh Silva Takvorian, members of the state of Virginia’s American Red Cross representatives, who work closely with the chapter, and ARS supporters from the state of Virginia.

The Convention concluded with the election of Regional Board members and the approval of the budget. The 2023-2024 Regional Executive Board is comprised of Caroline Chamavonian, Talin Daghlian, Margaret Babikian, Seda Aghamianz, Mary Andonian, Tamitza Dakesian, and Anush Bargamian.

ARS Established 35th Chapter

TAMPA, FL—The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA is thrilled to announce the establishment of the ARS “Sevan” Chapter in Tampa, Florida. This momentous occasion marks the 35th chapter under the leadership of the ARS of Eastern USA, which spans across 14 states and the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

“The ARS “Sevan” Chapter is poised to make a lasting impact through their initiatives, joining hands with their fellow chapters and the ARS network to support and uplift the Armenian people in their time of need,” expressed Caroline Chamavonian, Chairperson of the ARS Regional Executive Board. “With our united efforts, the ARS continues to write a remarkable chapter in its longstanding history of humanitarian service.”

A special oath ceremony administered by Ungh. Mary Andonian, member of the ARS of Eastern USA Regional Executive Board was held on June 3, 2023, where new members Lena Kotchounian, Sarah Vartazarian, Lizette Nalbandian, Carolin Avedissian, Lucine Melikian, and Diana Vartazarian officially joined the ranks. Also in attendance was Ungh. Angele Manoogian, a long-time member of the region who also conveyed her congratulatory remarks.

The ARS “Sevan” Chapter becomes the second chapter in the state of Florida, standing alongside the established ARS “Sosseh” Chapter near Boca Raton, Florida. This momentous addition strengthens the ARS presence in the Sunshine State, amplifying the organization’s capacity to address the needs of the Armenian community.

The ARS of Eastern USA extends its heartfelt congratulations to the founding members of the “Sevan” Chapter and expresses gratitude to the Tampa community for their continued support and enthusiasm. With the new chapter’s establishment, the ARS reinforces its commitment to advancing humanitarian endeavors and fostering unity and solidarity among Armenians in Tampa and beyond.

ARS of Eastern USA hosts regional seminar in New Jersey

2023 ARS-EUSA Regional Seminar participants

HACKENSACK, NJ—Over 70 members from 10 chapters of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA, as well as supporters of the organization, attended its regional seminar on April 29 at the Hackensack University Medical Center. 

MaryAnne Bonjuklian led in the singing of the ARS anthem and then introduced Caroline Chamavonian, chairperson of the ARS of Eastern USA.

In her welcoming remarks, Chamavonian noted that the last in-person seminar was held in 2019. Since then, however, she said the ARS “provided thousands of dollars worth of scholarships to young scholars. Our chapters worked in the community during the pandemic to support the elderly and thank our medical heroes. We extended our healing hands to our community members in Lebanon before and after the Beirut port explosion. We supported the work of the Central Executive Board in Artsakh and the work of our sister region in Syria.”

The first speaker of the day was Cynthia Ruggerio, Esq., who lectured on “Resonating Patterns of Cultural Destruction and Genocide.” Ruggerio discussed Lemkin’s creation of the word “genocide” and the role of cultural destruction; resonating patterns from the past to the present; the destruction of churches; the denialist narrative; the Artsakh blockade; and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and international shortcomings.

Dr. Kim Hekimian, assistant professor of nutrition in pediatrics (gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition) at the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center, spoke about “Women’s Health in Armenia.” Hekimian presented a lifecycle perspective and highlighted the intergenerational consequences of undernutrition. She also discussed the leading causes of death in recent years; coronary heart disease has been ranked the highest.

After a brief lunch break, longtime ARS member Valentine Berberian and former ARS United Nations interns Taleen Nigdelian, Nory Boiatchian, Talar Hovsepian and Arev Ebrimian presented “Armenian Women’s Rights and Roles Throughout History.”

The seminar ended with Seda Aghamianz, ARS of Eastern USA Regional Executive Board member, who led a workshop on parliamentary procedures. “The understanding of parliamentary procedures is essential during meetings to ensure that the decision-making process is fair, efficient and effective, allowing for the best possible outcomes for the meeting,” she explained.

Dinner was held at Krichian’s Grill and Bistro.

The Regional Board expressed its gratitude to all attendees and the New Jersey “Agnouni,” “Armenouhi” and “Shakeh” Chapters for their hard work in organizing the event. 

ARS-EUSA Regional Board members and this year’s seminar committee

ARS Norian Youth Connect inspires attendees at Columbia University

ARS Norian Youth Connect, Columbia University, March 4, 2023

NEW YORK, NY — Students, scholars, young professionals and presenters gathered on Saturday at Columbia University for the 2023 ARS Norian Youth Connect Program. This is the first time in three years that the program has been run in-person.

The program began with introductions by Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern US board member Barbara-Seda Aghamianz and Dr. Khatchig Mouradian, who has been organizing and leading this program for over a decade. Aghamianz shared a brief history of the ARS, as well as information about its many relief programs to support Armenia, Artsakh, Syria, Lebanon and other communities. She noted that the Youth Connect program began in 1971 and used to be a four-week summertime intensive Armenian educational program. The current model successfully facilitates connection for today’s students and young professionals. She also announced the ARS’ virtual Western Armenian classes for beginners starting on March 14, 2023. They will be held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. 


ARS of Eastern US board member Barbara-Seda Aghamianz


ARS Norian Youth Connect Program Director Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

The first scholar to present was Whitney Adana Kite. Kite is a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University in the Art History and Archaeology Department specializing in medieval Armenian art and architecture. She holds an M.A. in art history from Tufts University and a B.A. in biological anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation, “The Lay of the Land: Armenian Monasteries in their Local Landscapes,” explores three medieval monasteries (Horomos, Geghard and Tatev) in the context of their topography. Last summer, Kite was a Lily Residential Scholar at the Library of Congress in the African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED).

Whitney Adana Kite

Kite’s presentation for Youth Connect was titled “The Mystery of the Menologium.” A Menologium is a calendar that also documents the lives of saints. Kite recounted her process for identifying six folios that were found at the Library of Congress with no context or information. As an art historian, Kite is trained to look at details in art and manuscripts, such as pigment colors, stylization of letters and form that may provide clues to identify the work of art. After photographing the folios from many angles to document these details accurately, she then looked through hundreds of images that have already been cataloged online and in books to find those with a similar style to the ones she is trying to identify. Through this process, she was able to find the manuscript that these folios were from and tracked down further information about it in Dublin that included sales records and who the scribe would have been. Kite’s findings are important because they can be “in dialogue” with other images of the time and can also contribute to understanding immigration patterns, trade circumstances and even the impact of politics on art at the time. 

Dr. Nareg Seferian

Next, Dr. Nareg Seferian presented “Where is the US? Where is Armenia? A Glimpse into Geographical Imagination.” This was Dr. Seferian’s first presentation since completing his Ph.D. at the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. Between 2013 and 2016, Seferian served on the faculty of the American University of Armenia after receiving his higher education at Yerevan State University, St. John’s College, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. His doctoral research, supervised by Professor Gerard Toal, investigated the province of Syunik in Armenia in the aftermath of the Second Karabakh War. 

Dr. Seferian’s presentation addressed the definition and impact of “geographical imagination,” which is how we perceive or think about a place from our experiences and education. Components include territory and borders, location and relationships and visual discourse (such as maps). Dr. Seferian utilized a hands-on approach to engage attendees by displaying different outlines and images of maps and asking what thoughts and feelings were evoked when looking at each image. As he showed maps of the United States and then Armenia, discourse on the topic evolved into a conversation on identity and geography (with a discussion about terms such as Caucasus, West Asia, Eurasia, Trans Caucasus, South Caucasus, Eastern Europe, Near East and Middle East). The overarching theme was how topographical representation combined with certain labels and education can influence how groups perceive themselves, as well as how others perceive them. These details can impact how disputes and resolutions are handled.

Tatevik Khatchatryan

After lunch, Tatevik Khatchatryan provided an overview of the internships and educational programs offered by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). 

Dr. Vatche Isahagian

Then, Dr. Vatche Isahagian, senior research scientist and manager at IBM, began his presentation about artificial intelligence (AI). At least 25 percent of the program at Youth Connect each year has had a focus in the sciences in order to provide well-rounded programming. Dr. Isahagian is a senior member of both the IEEE and the ACM. His research spans a broad set of disciplines across distributed systems, machine learning and business processes. This presentation defined the facets of artificial intelligence, which include thinking and acting both humanly and rationally. Dr. Isahagian shared the history of AI and the numerous ways in which human beings utilize it, from machines that operate automatically to conversations with ChatGPT. Upon examining the benefits of AI, such as education, and the negative aspects of AI, such as a lack of filtering information, attendees began discussing the implications of AI for Armenian issues. Concerns were raised about how to prevent the spread of misinformation through chat bots that are unable to critically examine information they collect.

Dr. Henry Theriault

The final discussion on activism, education and justice was facilitated by Dr. Henry Theriault, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Worcester State University, and Dr. Lalai Manjikian, Humanities Professor at Vanier College in Montreal. Dr. Theriault’s research focuses on genocide denial, genocide prevention, post-genocide victim-perpetrator relations, reparations and mass violence against women and girls. He served two terms as president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and is founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Genocide Studies International. Dr. Manjikian holds a Ph.D. in communication studies from McGill University (2013). Her primary teaching and research interests are in the areas of immigration and refugee studies, media representations of migration, the ethics of migration and migrant narratives. Dr. Manjikian also serves as a board member for the Foundation for Genocide Education.

Dr. Lalai Manjikian

During this session, attendees discussed how to effectively engage in activism for current Armenian issues, specifically through the lens of healing trauma in order to not only survive but thrive. Attendees and facilitators tackled questions of how to create global cohesion for Armenians, how to best listen and learn from each other, how to remain focused on the work long-term, even if results are not immediately seen, and where individual and collective efforts are best utilized. The overarching theme is that Armenians should be working toward a sense of security for ourselves and the region as a whole to live in peace. 

At the end of the day, attendees were able to provide feedback about the program and continue to learn from each other and build connections over dinner. These young adults leave the program with new information and inspiration to return to their home communities and contribute to the work being done to help Armenians around the globe.

Dalita Getzoyan

Dalita Getzoyan’s involvement in the Armenian community began at a young age, beginning with attending Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Providence, RI, and singing in its choir. She also was a member of the Providence AYF “Varantian” junior and senior chapters. She has served both on local committees and the Central Executive for the AYF Eastern Region. Dalita now lives in NYC where she works as a Music Therapist for Hospice of New York. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Flute Performance from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and Music Therapy from Lesley University. She also is currently pursuing a career as an actor in the city.

From the humanities to the sciences, ARS Norian Youth Connect enthralls attendees

ARS Norian Youth Connect, Columbia University, March 4, 2023

NEW YORK, NY—Following a two-year virtual hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Norian Youth Connect Program (YCP) returned in-person on Saturday, allowing university students and graduates from throughout North America to kick off the month with meaningful learning, immersive discourse and professional networking. Organized by the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA, with the support of an endowment by the Norian Fund, the daylong affair at Columbia University is renowned for serving as one of the eastern region’s premier events for scholarly engagement with a diverse range of topics involving the Armenian community including international affairs, technology and the arts.

The program began with welcoming remarks from Barbara-Seda Aghamianz, ARS Eastern Executive board member and administrator of the Genocide Education Project; and Dr. Khatchig Mouradian, Columbia University professor and YCP director. The organizers thanked the group of young Armenians for attending and explained the philanthropic mission of the ARS. According to Dr. Mouradian, participants hailed from across the country, representing approximately 40 universities. He said the program provides him with the opportunity to interact “with the best and brightest Armenian students” which he regards as “one of the greatest privileges of [his] career in education.”

The introduction was followed by four short talks delivered by a lineup of distinguished speakers. The first was led by Whitney Kite, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University who specializes in medieval Armenian art and architecture. Kite’s presentation described the intricate process required to trace fragments of Armenian menologia back to their original manuscript. Through reviewing hundreds of manuscripts preserved at the United States Library of Congress and other archives, Kite detailed how she stylistically compares the fragments of menologia to existing manuscripts by examining each piece’s stylistic composition and ornithography signage.

Kite’s intriguing talk about the mysteries of menologium captivated the audience’s attention. This spirit of curiosity persisted into Dr. Nareg Seferian’s roundtable discussion about geographical imagination; a concept that was novel to many, but familiar to Dr. Seferian. Dr. Seferian recently completed his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs and was honored to present at Youth Connect after having been a close follower of the program. 

In completing his work, Dr. Seferian recognized that “a big part of the political life of the Armenian people and the Republic of Armenia, as well as Artsakh, has revolved around territory, claims to territory, territorial loss and gain, and, tragically, the violence and displacement associated with those processes.” Dr. Seferian used this understanding to facilitate an engrossing dialogue about geographical imagination, political geography and other related concepts.

After breaking for a communal lunch, attendees reconvened to hear about the Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) ongoing grassroots efforts to advance the Armenian Cause on the federal, state and local levels. In addition, ANCA Youth Programs associate director Tatevik Khachatryan attended YCP to share how Armenian Americans can directly engage with the ANCA. Among the ANCA’s programs are the Haroutioun and Elizabeth Kasparian Summer Academy for high school students, the Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship for undergraduates, the Rising Leaders Program for university students and recent graduates and the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program for recent graduates interested in starting a career in policy, politics or media.

The program then shifted away from the humanities and toward the sciences and engineering, as YCP participants critically explored the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on society. Dr. Vatche Isahagian, a senior research scientist and manager at IBM Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, explained how artificial intelligence has evolved to become at the forefront of major global operations and offered an in-depth analysis of the increasing popularization of AI-enhanced business applications. 

The lecture series culminated in an open forum about activism, education and justice, led by Dr. Henry C. Theriault, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Worcester State University, and Dr. Lalai Manjikian, a humanities professor at Vanier College in Montreal, Quebec. 

YCP formally concluded with a sit-down dinner during which all attendees had the valuable opportunity to meet and mingle with the featured speakers and program director. Participant Leo Torosian reflected fondly on the day by commending Dr. Mouradian for being “successful in integrating a diverse range of presentations and the discussions on the challenges facing the Armenian nation” and extending his gratitude to “the ARS for providing young adults with an environment for the continued exploration and exchange of ideas.”

Alice Kahkajian

Alice Kahkajian is a proud member of the AYF DC “Ani” Chapter. She recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from American University with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government, with plans to pursue a legal career.

ARS of Eastern USA establishes “Tsiran” Chapter of Manhattan

ARS of Eastern USA establishes “Tsiran” Chapter of Manhattan

MANHATTAN, NY—The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA is proud to announce the establishment of the ARS “Tsiran” Chapter of Manhattan, New York. This marks the 34th chapter under the leadership of the ARS of Eastern USA, which includes 14 states with active chapter(s) and the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

“We are so excited to welcome seven new members into our ranks during a pivotal time for the Armenian nation and diaspora,” said ARS Regional Executive Board chairperson Caroline Chamavonian. “The new members have vowed to extend their healing hands to advance our humanitarian mission and are dedicated to our organization’s motto, ‘With the People, For the People,’” she continued.

During two separate events, new members participated in an oath ceremony, where Regional Executive Board vice-chairperson Taline Daghlian and treasurer Margaret Babikian welcomed them to the organization. Daghlian administered the oath for the new members, and in her congratulatory remarks, she stressed the importance of diligently working to serve the humanitarian mission of the organization and assist those in our community, homeland and society.

The ARS “Tsiran” Chapter becomes the fifth chapter of the state of New York, working alongside the oldest chapter of this organization, the ARS “Mayr” Chapter (established in 1910) and the ARS Chapters of “Anahid,” “Erebouni” and “Lucia.”

ARS of Eastern USA establishes “Tsiran” Chapter of Manhattan

ARS of Eastern USA provides update on relief work in Syria

Thousands of people in Syria are reeling from deadly earthquakes that struck on the morning of February 6. The first registered at magnitude 7.8—one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in 100 years—and the second at magnitude 7.5. The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA was one of the first to begin an urgent fundraising campaign to assist the humanitarian relief work of the Armenian Relief Cross of Syria (ARCS) during the ongoing search and rescue efforts.

Within the first couple of hours, the ARS of Eastern USA directly transferred a preliminary amount of $5,000 to help launch assistance efforts and began an online fundraising campaign for Syrian Armenian aid. Thanks to the donations made by its supporters and chapters, the ARS of Eastern USA reports that it has raised $50,000, which will be transferred to the ARCS through the Central Executive Board.

The ARCS has implemented several programs to serve the needs of the community—ensuring that the doors of the clinic (Tarmanadoon) remain open until late in the evening to meet urgent health needs and mobilizing the “Petag” kitchen to prepare meals for search and rescue teams and community members. Over 2,000 meals were provided from February 7 to 9.

Additionally, in response to a call to action, the ARCS provided 400 milk containers for babies, as well as tea and sugar. On February 8, the 1,900 Armenians who took refuge in the Armenian centers were provided an assortment of cakes and sweets and milk for young children (350 in total). The following day, the communities of Nor Kyugh and Villas received an assortment of jams, compliments of the ARCS “Shirak” Store. 

The ARCS also prepared and distributed 3,000 boxes of to-go meals to those in the Armenian centers. On February 9, ARCS doctors and nurses from the clinic began rotations at the Armenian centers to provide care for those taking refuge there. Work is also underway to prepare and distribute blankets to children and adults.

As rescue teams continue to search the rubble of the many buildings that have been destroyed, the death toll is still rising. Therefore, the ARS of Eastern USA is once again asking you to please support its activities and help those affected by this catastrophe.

ARS Norian Youth Connect to be held at Columbia on March 4

NEW YORK, NY—ARS Norian Youth Connect Program (YCP) will return to Columbia University on Saturday, March 4, after being held virtually for two years due to the pandemic.

The daylong program for university students will feature short talks, round tables and discussions on a variety of topics ranging from art and culture to international affairs and Artificial Intelligence. It will conclude with a dinner and networking event on Saturday evening.

Speakers include Dr. Vatche Isahagian, Dr. Henry Theriault, Whitney Kite, Dr. Lalai Manjikian and Nareg Seferian. Dr. Khatchig Mouradian will serve as program director.

Registration is $50 and includes meals, dinner and accommodations for Friday and Saturday nights (for out-of-town students only). University students (age limit 18-26) are urged to register promptly, as space is limited.

Register online (scroll down to Youth Connect Program) and also complete this online form.

The ARS Norian YCP is organized by the Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA. 

Dr. Vatche Isahagian

Dr. Vatche Isahagian is a senior research scientist and manager at IBM Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Boston University in 2013. His research spans a broad set of disciplines across distributed systems, machine learning and business processes. His current focus is on utilizing AI techniques such as natural language processing and multi-agent systems to enable AI-enhanced business automations. Vatche’s work has resulted in multiple patent filings, peer-reviewed publications in conferences and journals, as well as two best paper awards. Additionally, he has organized several workshops and served as a member of program committees, as well as co-chair and publicity chair for various conferences. He is a senior member of both the IEEE and the ACM.

Dr. Henry C. Theriault

Dr. Henry C. Theriault is currently Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Worcester State University in the United States, after teaching in its philosophy department from 1998 to 2017. From 1999 to 2007, he coordinated the university’s Center for the Study of Human Rights. Theriault’s research focuses on genocide denial, genocide prevention, post-genocide victim-perpetrator relations, reparations and mass violence against women and girls. He has lectured and appeared on panels around the world. Since 2007, he has chaired the Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group and is lead author of its March 2015 final report, “Resolution with Justice.” He has published numerous journal articles and chapters, and his work has appeared in English, Spanish, Armenian, Turkish, Russian, French and Polish. With Samuel Totten, he co-authored The United Nations Genocide Convention: An Introduction (University of Toronto Press, 2019). Theriault served two terms as President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), 2017-2019 and 2019-2021. He is founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Genocide Studies International. From 2007 to 2012 he served as co-editor of the International Association of Genocide Scholars’ peer-reviewed Genocide Studies and Prevention.

Whitney Kite

Whitney Kite is a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, where she specializes in Armenian art and architecture. Her dissertation explores the connections between medieval Armenian monasteries and their local topography. Her master’s thesis, “The Madonna’s Magic Carpet: The Construction of Presence in an Armenian Tympanum Relief” was awarded the 2020 graduate student essay award by the International Center of Medieval Art. Prior to her doctoral work, Whitney received an MA in art history from Tufts University and a BA in biological anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research has been generously supported by the Medieval Academy of America, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, the Claudia Rattazzi Papka Memorial Fund, the Dr. Paula Gerson Fund, Casa Muraro, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.  

Dr. Lalai Manjikian

Dr. Lalai Manjikian is a humanities professor at Vanier College in Montreal. She also teaches in the Women and Gender Studies program at Vanier. Her main teaching and research interests are in the areas of immigration and refugee studies, media representations of migration, the ethics of migration and migrant narratives. She is the author of Collective Memory and Home in the Diaspora: The Armenian Community in Montreal (2008). Dr. Manjikian’s articles have been published in a number of newspapers and journals including The Armenian WeeklyHorizon Weekly, 100 Lives (The Aurora Prize), The Montreal Gazette, and Refuge. A former Birthright Armenia participant (2005), over the years, Dr. Manjikian has been active in volunteering both within the Armenian community in Montreal and the local community at large, namely engaged in immigrant and refugee integration. She previously served as a qualitative researcher on the Armenian Diaspora Survey in Montreal. Dr. Manjikian also serves as a board member for the Foundation for Genocide Education. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from McGill University (2013).

Nareg Seferian

ARS of Eastern USA announces scholarship opportunities

WATERTOWN, Mass. — The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA is now accepting applications for its annual scholarship program. 

Hundreds of students have been awarded ARS scholarships because of their ambition, hard work and service to their community. This year, the ARS of Eastern USA plans on awarding more students in order to alleviate the financial burden and create a cycle of success. More importantly, the ARS of Eastern USA is making an investment in the future of our community and nation.

Applicants must be of Armenian descent and must have completed at least one college semester at an accredited institution in the United States in order to be eligible. For complete details about the application process and to access the application form, visit

Scholarship grants are awarded based on a combination of financial need, merit and involvement in the Armenian community.  All three areas should be addressed in the application.  Each application is valid for only one year, but students who have received a grant may apply for a second one. Applications are not automatically renewed, and an individual may only be granted a maximum of two scholarships.

Scholarship application materials should be directed to Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, Inc., 80 Bigelow Ave, Suite 200, Watertown, MA 02472.

Deadline for applications is April 1, 2023.

ARS of Eastern USA preparing for another year of service

WATERTOWN, Mass.—As we conclude 2022 and begin to gear up for another year of humanitarian service, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA reflects on its activities and how the work of our membership and the support of our donors and friends allowed us to once again extend our healing hands to those who needed us the most by implementing and supporting humanitarian, educational, youth and health programs within our community, in the homeland and around the world. 

We began the year by launching the “Share the Love” campaign and raised funds for the hot meal programs in Lebanon and Syria. With the generosity of our donors and members, we were able to provide much-needed hot meals to community members who are struggling to put food on their tables. Throughout the year, we supported the work of the Armenian Relief Cross of Lebanon and Syria by allocating additional financial assistance, so they could implement a series of programs in their respective regions to support the community, which has been facing major hardships in their countries. 

For our youth, we organized a virtual Norian Youth Connect Program featuring a panel discussion on “Creativity in Challenging Times” and a lecture on the future of Armenians. In 2023, the ARS of Eastern USA will resume its program in-person and will soon announce the details of the Norian Youth Connect Program set to take place on March 4, 2023 at Columbia University in New York City.  

As part of our yearly activities, we provided over $70,000 in scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students for their ambition, hard work and service to their community.

As longtime supporters of Camp Haiastan, the ARS of Eastern USA donated $100,000 during the organization’s 70th anniversary gala to support a series of renovation projects.

Furthermore, the ARS of Eastern USA continued to support the work of the Armenian National Education Committee and conducted an essay contest between day and one-day schools. 

To support efforts in the homeland, our members and supporters sponsored 100 children of Artsakh’s fallen heroes, a program that our organization has implemented since the war first began in 1988. During the year, we continued our sponsorship of the Soseh Kindergarten of Khndzristan; supported the ARS Akhourian Mother and Child Health and Birthing Center; and sponsored gifts to students who have excelled in their studies through the ARS Outstanding Student Program. As usual, we also supported the community of Javakhk by providing much-needed assistance to the region for their ongoing needs.

Due to the ongoing situation in Artsakh and the dire need for medical attention needed for our homeland’s defenders, the ARS of Eastern USA continued to financially support the lifesaving work of the Artsakh Rehab Center.

In 2022, the ARS of Eastern USA also gained a new chapter in Vermont—the ARS “Noor” Chapter. The new members took an oath and joined the greater ARS family to continue the work that began more than a century ago. The ARS of Eastern USA also held its 101st convention in North Carolina, one year after the establishment of that state’s chapter.

We have confidence, pride and passion in our work, which we practice at a high level of excellence. It’s all due to the generosity and commitment of our members, chapters, supporters and friends who allow us to make a difference for so many people in our communities and around the world.

More than $450,000 was allocated for all the humanitarian and community-centered programs mentioned above, surpassing last year’s allocations.

On behalf of the ARS of Eastern USA’s Regional Executive Board, we would like to extend our gratitude to all for being generous with their time, support and dedication to foster the ARS’ programs. We are praying that the Lachin Corridor, currently blocked by Azerbaijan, will be opened and peace will be restored in Artsakh. We ask that you join us in that prayer and support the humanitarian work of the ARS during 2023, so we can extend our hands to those who need us the most.