Savey Tufenkian Awarded Ellis Island Medal of Honor

NEW YORK–Long-time community activist and benefactor Savey Tufenkian was one of the recipients of this year’s Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Composer Harry Orbelian and attorney Harry A. Dorian were other Armenian-Americans who receive medals of honor.

Tufenkian–a long-time resident of Glendale–is the retired Executive Vice President of Western Waste Industries. She and husband Ralph have contributed to numerous community organizations and causes–including the Armenian National Committee of America–which is a member of the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation–the group that awards the coveted medals every year.

The Tufenkians recently also funded the construction of a school in Stepanakert–the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and a school in Gumri. Through their involvement with organization’s such as the Armenian Educational Foundation–the Tufenkians have elevated educational standards both in Armenia and the US.

Savey Tufenkian has also been great contributor to school and scholarships in the community. Following the tragic death of her son Richard–a generous donation was made to the St. Mary’s Armenian Church–through which the Richard Tufenkian pre-school and kindergarten was established. That school has educated several generations of Armenian-Americans and still enjoys the diligent participation from Tufenkian in school activities.

As a businesswoman–Savey Tufenkian has also been very active in ensuring that the economy of the fledgling Republic of Armenia is strengthened. Through investmen’s in the Armenian economy she and her husband have demonstrated that the investment climate in Armenia is sound for foreign markets.

The Ellis Island Medal is awarded to distinguished American citizens who have contributed extraordinary service to a particular heritage group enabling the growth and preservation of that group’s participation in the diversity of American life.

This year–for the first time–a congressional resolution was unanimously passed on April 9 in the House of Representatives–which formally recognizes the Ellis Island Medals of Honor and commen’s NECO for its work in promoting harmony and understanding among all ethnic groups.

This year’s awards ceremony was dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives as a result of the Sept. 11 tragedy.


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