SIMI VALLEY, Calif.–Armenian Relief Society members and supporters gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on January 23, 2016 eager to partake in the ARS Leadership Built to Last Seminar organized by the ARS Regional Executive and the Regional Educational Committee.
The seminar commenced with welcoming remarks by organizing committee member Vivian Taslakian, who introduced the purpose of the seminar and thanked the event sponsors Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoory Melkonian, as well as the ARS Anahid, Lori, Sosse, Sepan, Ani, Gars, and Meghry Chapters.
The two seminar panels were moderated by community activist Caspar Jivalagian, Esq., who emphasized the importance of the role of the ARS in the community and highly commended the organization of such a seminar, which would deliver valuable information and knowledge to its attendees.
The first panel, Leadership, consisted of ANCA Western Region Chairperson Nora Hovsepian, Esq., Former LA City Controller Wendy Greuel, and ARF Central Committee member Vaché Thomassian, Esq.
Nora Hovsepian, Esq. presented on the topic of Community Leadership focusing on its definition, importance of leadership in the Armenian community, the development of leaders, an effective leader’s attributes and how those attributes can be applied to achieve the community’s collective goals. She emphasized that it is imperative for a successful leader to possess qualities, such as integrity, courage, commitment, fairness, creativity, and flexibility. While highlighting the necessity of preparing future leaders, Hovsepian recalled a quote by author Tom Peters, “Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.”
Wendy Greuel concentrated on Women in Politics, stressing that it is possible for “women to have it all,” from a professional career to a family. Drawing from her own personal experiences, Greuel noted that courage and confidence are necessary to overcome challenges and leaders must be able to stay true to their own values and beliefs even when confronted with differing opinions. She also highlighted that it is crucial for leaders to listen to and be honest with their constituents. In addition, she placed emphasis on the need for women to support one another.
Community leader Vaché Thomassian, Esq. focused on Youth Leadership, explaining that age is only a figure and does not determine an individual’s ability to be a good leader. He brought awareness to the fact that gender discrimination should not exist within leadership. Both men and women should have equal opportunities to attain leadership roles. He affirmed that the Armenian youth with its vast capabilities, is ready and willing to take on leadership roles. Thomassian stressed the role of older generations in creating and presenting opportunities for future leaders. While youth possess new methods and skills that could bring about beneficial change throughout communities, the vital role of previous generations in laying firms foundations must be recognized. It is beneficial to draw upon the experiences of their elders. Thomassian concluded that a good leader is one who values the perspectives of those around him and has the ability to convey his message clearly and concisely.
The second panel, Built to Last, commenced with speakers Corporate Executive/Consultant and ARF Central Committee member Daron Der-Khachadourian, Judge Houry Sanderson of the Fresno Superior Court and current ARS Sophia Chapter member, and ANCA Western Region Executive Director Elen Asatryan.
Daron Der-Khachadourian covered Succession Planning, explaining the necessity of planning for the future in order to continue attaining organizational goals. He detailed the importance of identifying and developing individuals with the potential of filing leadership positions and listed the key components in this process: attract, retain, and develop. Der-Khachadourian addressed key leadership skills, setting the stage for succession planning, setting clear expectations, and implementation methods.
Judge Houry Sanderson presented on Conflict Resolution, discussing contributing factors to conflict. She described that although introducing change may be challenging, it is possible to attain it through conflict resolution methods. She explained that while disagreements, exchange of ideas and change of opinions are all normal occurrences in organizational life, it is crucial to be patient, open-minded, and fair in order to reach a resolution. Sanderson stressed using knowledge to one’s advantage, sharing experiences, not allowing fear to become overwhelming, using one’s status wisely, and not allowing ego to stand in the way of learning.
Elen Asatryan discussed Public Relations and Communication, concentrating on how to achieve organizational goals through improved public relations, increased followers and an expanded network. Although challenging, she stated that it is essential for a leader to be firm, polite, humble, thoughtful, and bold.
Audience members remained engaged throughout the seminar as a result of the interactive presentations prepared by the speakers. A question and answer session followed each panel.
As a gesture of appreciation, the ARS Regional Executive presented the speakers, who dedicated their time and expertise to the seminar, with personalized mementos. Chairperson Rebecca Berberian delivered concluding remarks, thanking each speaker for their informative and motivational presentations. She also recognized members of the seminar organizing committee: Vivian Taslakian, Arousyak Melkonian, Lara Kazandjian, Zharmen Mirzakhanian, and Maral Poladian.
The productive seminar helped bring attention to a number of themes related to leadership, with the objective of cultivating and developing the skills of current and future leaders.