Burbank Community Honors Rep. Adam Schiff

ANCA Burbank members with Rep. Adam Schiff

Rep. Schiff, Burbank Mayor Join Local Officials and Armenian Americans to Honor City Clerk Margarita Campos, Sarkis Nikogosian, Zareh Sinanyan, Talar Kossakian

BURBANK—Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and a host of state and local legislators and their staff joined more than 300 Armenian American community members from throughout the area to celebrate Armenian National Committee of America Burbank successes and recommit to expanding the role of the local ANCA in all aspects of civic and community life.

The May 4th gala reception, held at the beautiful Arbat Hall, attracted veteran community leaders and more recent ANCA Burbank activists, with proceeds to benefit the youth and civic education programs of the ANCA Endowment Fund.  Throughout the evening, speakers and participants hailed the achievements of the local ANCA to broaden Armenian American participation in Burbank civic life along with campaigns on the state and federal level to advance the views and values of the Armenian nation.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski are joined by ANCA Burbank Secretary Annette Kargodorian, Banquet Mistress of Ceremonies Nanneh Chehras, ANCA Burbank Chairwoman Silva Kechichian and Banquet Chairwoman Souzy Ohanian.

There was no shortage of local legislators and candidates joining in the gala celebration in support of ANCA Burbank efforts, including Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski, Vice Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Burbank City Councilmembers Dr. David Gordon and Jess Telamantess, Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, and Glendale City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian.  They were joined by a number of Glendale and Burbank School Board members, including Ted Bunch, Dave Kemp, Debbie Kukta, Roberta Reynolds, Larry Applebaum, and Nairi Nahabedian.  Burbank Policy Chief Scott LaChasse, Captain Denis Cremins, and Burbank city representatives were also on hand, along with State Assembly candidates Adrin Nazarian and Greg Krikorian, who currently serves as chairman of the Glendale School Board.  Also on hand for the celebration were ANCA Western Region Chairwoman Nora Hovsepian, ANCA Western Region Board members and staff including Executive Director William Bairamian, ANCA Telethon 2012 Executive Director Armen Carapetian, ANCA Hollywood Chairman Paul Seradarian, ANCA Glendale Chairman Berj Karapetian, CAAD Executive Board member Zanku Armenian, SCAD President Armond Aghakhanian, and representatives from a host of Armenian American organizations including the ACF, ARS, and AYF.

Congressman Adam Schiff; ANCA’s Elizabeth Chouldjian Offer Washington DC perspectives on Politics and Community Activism

Rep. Adam Schiff with ANCA Burbank honorees Sarkis Nikogosian, Zareh Sinanyan, Esq., City Clerk Margarita Campos, and Talar Kossakian.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a favorite with the local Armenian American community for his leadership on efforts to secure Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and promote high levels of U.S. aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, was eloquent in his remarks detailing Congressional efforts to address the difficult economic times facing the nation.  He then outlined a series of Congressional initiatives and strategies addressing U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, and the December, 2011, passage of House legislation, H. Res. 306 which calls on Turkey to return the thousands of confiscated Christian churches to the Armenian, Greek, Assyrian and Aramean (Syriac) communities.  On the foreign aid front, Rep. Schiff discussed an expanded focus on U.S. assistance to the Armenian community in the Republic of Georgia, citing his recent discussion of the plight of the Samtskhe-Javakheti Armenian populations with Republic of Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Rep. Schiff spoke of the important and effective role groups like the ANCA play in Burbank’s civic life.  “Through your grassroots activism, we have made great progress on issues, and we have a lot more work to do.  But without an incredible ANCA staff in Washington, and incredible ANCA organizations throughout the Western Region and around the country, all we have accomplished would have been absolutely impossible,” explained Rep. Schiff.

Watch Rep. Schiff’s complete remarks.

ANCA Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian, who had travelled from Washington, DC to join in ANCA Burbank’s gala celebration, touched on, what she termed, the “3 C’s” necessary to successfully advocate issues in the nation’s capital – a just Cause; Courage to pursue that cause; and the Capital – both human and financial – to advance the community’s key concerns.  To that end, Chouldjian discussed the vital role of ANCA Endowment supported programs including the Capital Gateway Program and the Leo Sarkisian Internship program, which assist university students and recent graduates in their exploration of careers in public policy, as well as the Hyevotes regional initiative (http://www.hyevotes.org) to increase Armenian American participation in the electoral process.

Watch Chouldjian’s remarks.

In appreciation of their participation and presentations, Rep. Schiff and Chouldjian received beautifully framed images of Armenian churches and religious relics, confiscated by the Turkish government – illustrating the Armenian American community’s commitment to secure the return of these historic treasures in the ongoing campaign of justice for the Armenian Genocide.

City Clerk Margarita Campos, Sarkis Nikogosian, Zareh Sinanyan, Talar Kossakian Honored

The ANCA Burbank continued its tradition of honoring local leaders in government, business, grassroots activism and youth issues with Burbank City Clerk Margarita Campos, local business owner Sarkis Nikogosian, ANCA Western Region Board Member Zareh J. Sinanyan, Esq. and AYF leader Talar Kossakian given top honors for 2012, in recognition of their years of selfless service to the Burbank community in each of their categories.

Burbank City Clerk Margarita Campos received the “William Saroyan” Legislator of the Year Award for her years of service to the local community, working tirelessly to facilitate broader voter registration and participation, particularly among those who recently became U.S. citizens.

The owner and proprietor of the beautiful Arbat Banquet Hall, Sarkis Nikogosian, received the “Levon Shant” Businessman of the Year Award for his active participation in Burbank’s busy business life and his ongoing support for Armenian community efforts in Southern California and projects in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh over the past 30 years.

ANCA Western Region Board member Zareh J. Sinanyan, Esq. received the “Vahan Cardashian” Community Leader of the Year Award for his consistent and dedicated leadership within both the Armenian American community and Burbank civic life.

Local AYF member Talar Kossakian received the “Karekin Njdeh” Youth Activist of the Year Award for her work with the AYF and ANC in reaching out to local Armenian youth groups, including the Burbank High School Armenian Club, which presented an Armenian Genocide awareness video during the April 24th Burbank City Council commemoration.

Steadfastly Serving the Burbank Community
A consistent theme throughout the gala banquet was the critical role of grassroots participation in the success of the local ANCA.  This was particularly true in the ANCA Burbank video, prepared by Horizon Armenian Television’s Vartan Esmaielian, which spotlighted the diverse programs undertaken by the local chapter.  Watch the complete video.

Banquet Chairwoman Souzy Ohanian reflected on the extensive support and respect the local ANCA receives from community leaders and activists alike.  “The Burbank ANC chapter has experienced a period of remarkable growth over the past few years. This growth can be attributed to the ANCA’s role as an effective grassroots organization serving the city’s Armenian-American community. The Burbank ANC Chapter strives to bring the people of its city together to work towards the common goal of making Burbank a better place to live and work.”

The evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies, Nanneh Chehras concurred, noting “I’ve been a member of ANCA Burbank for several years, and there is never a shortage of work.  It seems as if the second you’re done with one project, you already have 10 e-mails for the next.  A few flyers, press releases, and several meetings later that project is done and the cycle continues.  But this is the beautiful thing about the entire ANC organization.  We don’t run out of ideas.”

ANCA Burbank Chairwoman Silva Kechichian thanked attendees for their “wholehearted and unwavering support for the ANCA,” observing that it is a “testament to the powerful and unifying mission and message of our organization — a mission to defend the rights of the Armenian nation in the halls of Congress, in the CA State Capitol and here in our fair city of Burbank; a message of community pride, of community power and of community progress – relayed by the most vibrant and effective spokespeople of the Armenian Cause – you.  Each and every one of you.”

Watch Kechichian’s remarks.

The ANCA Burbank placed special focus on the talent of local youth with the opening of the festivities by the Homenetmen “Sipan” Chapter Scouts, followed by the national anthems sung by Nairi Balian.  During the course of the evening, students from Lilia’s Dance Studio performed a series of beautiful Armenian traditional dances.

Following the presentations and awards ceremony, singing sensation Koko Hayitian entertained the audience with American standards and Armenian dance and patriotic songs.

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