Kassakhian to Speak on Challenges Facing Community in Glendale

Ardashes Kassakhian

LA CRESCENTA—Glendale City Clerk, Ardashes Kassakhian will be the honorary guest speaker on ” Challenges Facing the Armenian Community in the City of Glendale ” at Armenian Apostolic Church of Crescenta Valley, located at Western Prelacy’s ” Dikran and Zarouhi Der Ghazarian ” Hall, at 6252 Honolulu Ave., in La Crescenta, California on Sunday, August 21, 2011 at 1pm, following the church service.

Kassakhian will speak about his experiences serving as the elected city clerk of Glendale, CA. Having served as City Clerk for over 6 years, Kassakhian has gained unique insight into Glendale’s political system. His prior experience as the Governmental Relations Director and Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western United States, have helped shape his deep understanding of the intersection of Armenian-American political affairs and local government. As the city’s Election Official, he has led the effort to raise participation and awareness of municipal elections and has introduced the expansion of video streaming of city council meetings and other proceedings. His presentation will focus on issues of voter participation and turnout, public engagement and city council meetings, as well as the importance of civic participation including the results of the last two municipal elections.

At a young age, Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian was already at the forefront of many grassroots battles from being a leading voice for voters’ rights and civic responsibility in his hometown of Glendale, California to fighting for Genocide recognition in Washington, D.C. and beyond.

Born in Boston, Kassakhian’s family moved to Glendale 20 years ago. Kassakhian’s family is originally from Smyrna (present day Izmir, Turkey) and the region of Caisaria (Gesaryah). After escaping the Genocide, Kassakhian’s family settled in Athens, Greece and Jerusalem, Palestine respectively.

As a student at University of California, Los Angeles where he studied and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Kassakhian participated in the University’s Center for American Politics and Public Policy Program in Washington, D.C.

While in Washington, Kassakhian interned in Congress for both Republican and Democratic members’ offices. His thesis focused on the successes and failures of the Armenian-American lobby in securing proper reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide from U.S. Congress and the White House.

In 2000 Kassakhian joined the public relations firm of Stoorza, Ziegaus & Metzger, one of California’s largest firms which specialized in government relations and public affairs. At Stoorza Kassakhian worked on a variety of issues for both public and private sector clients including Fortune 500 companies and employee unions. During his professional career, Kassakhian has run a number of local, state and federal campaigns to register voters and Get Out The Vote efforts as well as campaigns for numerous candidates seeking public office.

Most recently, Kassakhian was Executive Director of Western U.S. offices of a local non-profit which specializes in voters’ rights, advocacy and public policy (Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region). He has worked closely with members of the state legislature and members of the U.S. Senate and Congress on policy issues affecting Armenians throughout the United States. Kassakhian is the only Glendale resident representing a grassroots organization on the Los Angeles County Clerk’s Community Voter Outreach Committee, which was created by the County Clerk to look for different methods to raise voter participation in county, state and federal elections. Through his efforts, the County Clerk’s office now provides information in numerous languages on how to vote on their website and is the only in the country to offer this information in Armenian.

During the last six years, Kassakhian has helped educate non-English speaking citizens in Glendale about the voting process. He has been a poll worker in Glendale and has helped register hundreds of voters in Glendale and surrounding areas. He has taken his passion for public service and enthusiasm for the political process into the classroom as well lecturing on the importance of civic responsibility to numerous college campus groups and teaching a class in Government and Political History at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Hollywood, California.

On April 5, 2005, Kassakhian became the first person ever to be elected City Clerk in an open election in Glendale in 75 years. His landslide victory in a field of 9 candidates made him the youngest Armenian-American elected official in the U.S. as well the youngest person to ever hold public office in Glendale.

In 2009, Kassakhian completed a summer program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for State and Local officials. In 2011, Kassakhian graduated from the Coro Executive Fellowship Program in Public Affairs. He is currently working on developing a long range strategic plan for reforming election processes in Glendale and raising voter participation in municipal elections.

Kassakhian lives in Glendale with his wife, Courtney, and continues to lecture around the country on political organizing and grassroots politics, Armenian-American lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., and career development for youth interested in politics.

The general public is invited to this interesting, very informative presentation and public service program. The attendants will be encouraged to ask questions from the guest speaker and or share their own experiences about the subject matter. The event is open to the public. There will be a reception before the start of the program. The event is sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Arshag and Nevear Koulajian.

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