Walter and Laurel Karabian Fellowship Program Launched

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Walter and Laurel Karabian, Benefactors of the Karabian Fellowship

Walter and Laurel Karabian, Benefactors of the Karabian Fellowship

GLENDALE—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region announced the official launch of the Walter and Laurel Karabian Fellowship based in Sacramento, Calif. The Fellowship will be the first Sacramento based fellowship program of its kind to prepare the next generation of Armenian-American leaders.

“Throughout his life of public service starting from his time in the California State Legislature, Walter Karabian has mentored countless young individuals, guiding them in their pursuit of higher education, public office, and community service,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian. “The Fellowship is the continuation of his legacy of empowering youth to seek careers in the public sector. The Karabian Fellowship is an immense addition to the internships and fellowships offered by the ANCA family and will open a new chapter in the resources the ANCA-Western Region can provide to our ambitious youth,” added Hovsepian.

Walter Karabian receiving Legacy Award from ANCA-WR

Walter Karabian receiving Legacy Award from ANCA-WR

The Walter and Laurel Karabian Fellowship is a nine-month experience in California that offers young Armenian-Americans the opportunity to enhance their leadership and professional skills. The purpose of this fellowship will be to produce professionals in the public policy and political arena. The term will begin with placement in a political campaign during the 2016 general election and thereafter in Sacramento in either a State Assembly or Senate legislative office.

In addition to the projects assigned to them by supervisors at the various offices or agencies, fellows will be required to attend networking events and weekly seminars throughout the year, providing professional training, networking skills, and opportunities to meet other professionals within the public policy sector.

Walter Karabian with President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan

Walter Karabian with President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan

Participants will be provided a stipend to assist with housing and living costs.
To learn more about the fellowship, visit www.ancawr.org/fellowship, or call 818.500.1918, or email inquiries to fellowship@ancawr.org. The deadline to apply for the Karabian Fellowship is August 15th.

“The ANCA-WR is the leading Armenian-American advocacy organization and has a strong record of internship and externship programs for the youth in our community,” noted Karabian. He added, “Having been a legislator and leading a productive life in politics, I know firsthand the value of programs which develop the next generation of leaders. I am confident that under the supervision of the ANCA-WR, this program will expand and flourish in the future to produce a generation of new political and public policy leaders.”

Initially announced in late October 2015 during the ANCA-WR Annual Gala Banquet where the Honorable Walter Karabian was honored with the ANCA-WR Legacy Award, the fellowship program is geared toward recent college graduates and is made possible by the Karabian family’s generous funding.

Walter and Laurel Karabian Fellowship Program

Walter and Laurel Karabian Fellowship Program

Born in Fresno, California, Walter Karabian is the son of John Karabian and Zevart Shishmanian. Karabian’s paternal family arrived in Fresno in 1896 from Bitlis, and his maternal family was from Dikranagert in Turkish-occupied Armenia.

Karabian graduated from Roosevelt High School in Fresno and later continued his education at the University of Southern California, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History, a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Juris Doctorate from USC Law School. He was elected Junior Class President and Student Body President at USC, becoming one of the most successful graduates of that era.

Karabian served as Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. Soon after, Karabian became an active political figure in the Democratic Party and focused on a career in politics. In 1966, he was one of the youngest men to ever be elected to the California State Assembly and only the third American-Armenian to be elected to public office in the history of the United States!

While a member of the Legislature, Karabian published various legal articles and gained a reputation as a significant legal author as well as Legislator. He made substantial contributions to the development of California law concerning crime, prison reform, education, civil rights, free speech, and the preservation of endangered species in California. Notably, Karabian used his influence to bring awareness to the Armenian Genocide in California. In 1967, at a time when most people were not aware of the Genocide, Karabian authored the first resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide in the State Assembly, paving the way for future successes through the community’s activism, including for Armenian Genocide recognition and education.
In 1972, Karabian introduced California’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment which was designed to guarantee equal rights to women. Karabian also authored the first Freedom Act protecting sources of news information, the Endangered Species Act, which preceded the National Endangered Species Act.

Based on the trauma endured by his mother when she was wrongly labeled as being mentally retarded as a child simply because she was unable to successfully take IQ tests in school since English was her second language, Karabian utilized his position in Sacramento to introduce legislation requiring that child IQ testing be completed in the child’s home language.

In 1972, he was selected to serve in the powerful position of Majority Leader. At the time, he was only 33 years old and became the youngest Majority Leader in California’s history. Later, he would become a member of the important Rules Committee.

Following the devastating 1988 earthquake in Armenia, all Armenian organizations in California joined together in a historic coalition to rush aid to our crippled Nation. Karabian was chosen as Chairman of the coalition which came to be known as the United Coordinating Committee for Armenian Earthquake Relief.

Continuing his life-long dedication to service, he is a Trustee of the George Ignatius Foundation. Since 1985, Karabian and his Co-Trustees of the George Ignatius Foundation have been responsible for donating discretionary funds to Armenian organizations totaling over $5 million dollars.

Karabian’s dedication to the Armenian Cause is well-known throughout the world and has had a lasting impact over the Armenian community. In addition to countless other initiatives, Karabian is a founding member of the Armenian Bar Association and the Armenian Film Foundation.

The law firm he founded, Karns & Karabian, earned a reputation for its political networks and legal aptitude. He was the attorney for the American National Committee to Aid Homeless Armenians, the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, AGBU, Holy Martyrs Armenian Ferrahian High School, Armenian Mesrobian School, and the Arshag Dickranian Armenian School where Karabian’s children attended.

Karabian has served on the USC Law Center’s Board of Councilors, is a life member of Legion Lex at the USC Law School, a life member of Scapa Praetors at the School of Public Administration, a life member of USC’s Presidential Associates, a member of the Widney Society for the million dollar donors at USC, and is a Pepperdine University Life Endowed Associate.

In 1988, Karabian married Laurel Dickranian at St. Sarkis Armenian Church in London. They were blessed with a daughter Madeline Araxie who recently graduated from USC with a double major in Italian and Television Writing. His other children are Benjamin Karabian who is the Supervising Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney for Central Criminal Trials, and Katharine Sarine Giovanardi who is employed in the film industry. After 28 wonderful years of marriage, Laurel sadly passed away in late 2014. Laurel was a member of the State Arts Council and the Los Angles County Arts Commission. A graduate of Pomona College, Laurel also earned an MBA from UCLA in Arts Management. She served as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Armenian Library and Museum of America and was President of the Armenian International Women’s Association.

She was the youngest daughter of benefactors Arshag and Eleanor Dickranian of Beverly Hills whose resourcefulness and dedication have greatly impacted nearly every Armenian organization.

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices and supporters around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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