LOS ANGELES–Over the course of the past year, the Armenian National Committee-Western Region ushered in new heights of progress and development in community efforts. A few highlights of the year included record-breaking attendance for the annual banquet, town hall meetings across the western United States, the controversy surrounding Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and the further advancement of the ANC-WR Internship-Externship Program.
Throughout most of the year, the Armenian American community eagerly awaited the ANC-WR Annual Banquet. More than 1000 supporters gathered on October 12 at this marquee event held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California to celebrate the achievemen’s of 2008. Public officials joined members of the community in honoring Democratic Vice-President Elect Joseph Biden, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, President Ronald Reagan and long time ANC supporter Mrs. Ashkhen Pilavjian. Honorary chairs of the event included Congressmen Adam Schiff, George Radanovich, Ed Royce, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and several others.
During the course of the year the ANC-WR expanded its community outreach and hosted town hall meetings throughout the western United States; from Washington, to Oregon, to San Diego and several other locales. ANC activists gathered to receive updates about various ANC initiatives including House Resolution 106, the Senate hearings for the newly appointed US Ambassador to Armenia, the US Presidential Elections, congressional elections and various other issues. The community learned more about how their local activism played a crucial role and that their work has a vital, grassroots impact on the local and national scene.
Most notably, the Annual Federal Issues Town Hall Briefing was held in May in Los Angeles. This event focused on key developmen’s in the second session of the 110th Congress. The event featured presentations by ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian and prominent political expert and National Politics Editor for Politico Charles Mahtesian.
One of the most noteworthy developmen’s of 2008 occurred on March 28, 2008 when President Bush nominated Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch to serve as America’s next Ambassador to Armenia. President Bush’s previous nominee as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Hoagland, was subject to two legislative holds by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in response to the nominee’s statemen’s denying the Armenian Genocide. President Bush ultimately withdrew Hoagland’s nomination in August 2007.
Initiated in the days leading up to the Senate confirmation hearing for ambassador-designate Marie Yovanovitch, the AYF and ANCA launched an innovative campaign using YouTube video messages to encourage U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to ask President Bush’s nominee frank questions about the Armenian Genocide.
The ANC-WR helped support the ANCA in launching an online action effort urging Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to question Amb. Yovanovitch on issues including the Armenian Genocide as well as Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockades of Armenia and the U.S. role in finding a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that respects the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh. The online effort was combined with a postcard campaign to key Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, urging them to take action.
In 2008, the ANC-WR welcomed fourteen interns and externs to its program, the largest class to date. Students from all over California participated in this challenging program which helps shape and develop various skills that will prepare participants for success and leadership in their careers. Established in June 2006, the ANC-WR IEP is a selective and intensive program that provides student leaders and activists with an opportunity to participate in a program designed to provide an in-depth introduction to Armenian American issues as well as advocacy efforts on the federal, state and local level.
Looking back, 2008 was a year full of education, community outreach and activity for the ANC-WR. The success of the ANC-WR is owed to the dedication of its activists and the Armenian American community. Thank you for your support and we look forward to a fruitful 2009.
The Armenian National Committee–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, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANC-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.