GLENDALE–More than 550 guests and supporters gathered at the Hilton Glendale on Friday–November 16–2001–to take part in the highly anticipated Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region 2001 Annual Banquet–during which California Attorney General Bill Lockyer was presented with the organization’s 2001 Man of the Year award–while The Genocide Project received the ANCA-WR Freedom Award.
The 2001 Annual Banquet master of ceremonies Raffi Hamparian opened the evening’s proceedings with the US and Armenian national anthems performed by Eileen Knollenberg and Garen Gharibian–respectively–following which Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian offered the invocation for the evening.
After the dinner–the program resumed with Hamparian’s challenge and reminder that the work carried on by the ANCA-WR is the work of the Armenian nation–based on unconditional belief that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide with no regard to opportunism and personal gain is the calling of the organization.
The master of ceremonies then presented a brief biography of Attorney General and his accomplishmen’s and service to California and the state’s Armenian American community–following which ANCA-WR Board members Levon Kirakosian and Aida Yeghiazarian joined Attorney General Lockyer on stage to present the 2001 ANCA-WR Man of the Year award. Attorney General Lockyer has been a staunch supporter of issues of concern to the Armenian American community. Throughout his years in public service–Attorney General Lockyer has at all times worked very closely with his Armenian American constituents and has responded to pressing issues in a timely and appropriate manner. Soon after beginning his current tenure–Attorney General Lockyer began working closely with community activist and Deputy Attorney General Zaven Sinanian. The Attorney General’s office weighed in on the legitimacy SB 1915–legislation that extended the statue of limitations for heirs and survivors of the Armenian Genocide to collect on unpaid Genocide era insurance policies. Most recently–at the initiative of Attorney General Lockyer–the California Department of Justice kicked off a new multi-lingual program to counter crimes committed specifically against immigrant communities–while offering victims the opportunity to fight back.
"Attorney General Lockyer has been a steadfast supporter of the Armenian American community and those issues most important to our community. He has a long track record of working along with the ANCA-WR and other community based organizations in addressing pertinent concerns in California," explained ANCA-WR Executive Director Alex Sardar.
After the first award presentation–a brief video presentation outlined the ANCA-WR’s activities over the last year–with highlights including an August trip to Armenia with Congressman Adam B. Schiff–as well as the organization’s extensive and multi-faceted work in Genocide affirmation and education.
ANCA-WR Chairman Steven J. Dadaian then took the podium to thank the organization’s volunteers–supporters and generous benefactors who stood by the ANCA-WR for years as it continues to work for the Armenian Cause. "We are an organization that relies on three very essential things. We rely on our volunteers; we rely on our generous contributors but most importantly we rely on your commitment," said Dadaian in his address.
Following Dadaian–ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian updated the crowd on the ANC’s headquarters’ operations over the last year–outlining some of the most intense lobbying efforts including Section 907 and the Foreign Aid Bill–and the ANC’s involvement in these processes.
Following the chairman’s address–a short film introduced the work of the 2001 Freedom Award recipients –The Genocide Project. The Genocide Project has taken the story of the Armenian Genocide to a whole new kind and generation of audiences. The Project–which was started by long-time community activist Ara Oshagan and later joined by professional photographer Levon Parian and community activist and Project archivist Garen Yeghparian–has brought together the written word with powerful images of survivors to present to the world those who saw the atrocities of 1915 and lived to tell about it. The Genocide Project–which has been featured in mainstream media outlets–including National Public Radio and the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine–has held exhibits in the California State Capitol in Sacramento–the Los Angeles City Hall–the Downey Museum of Art–as well as countless galleries–libraries and public exhibit halls.
ANCA-WR Board Members Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian and George Garikian joined Project members on stage for the presentation of the award. "The power of the images and the words combined and presented in the way that the Genocide Project does–brings to life the pain–the suffering–but also the triumph of survival of these Genocide survivors," explained ANCA-WR Board member Souzi Zerounian. "The artists–interviewers and activists of the Project have been able to bring to a wider audience these stories and they have truly set new parameters for the Armenian Cause," she concluded.
Additional remarks were made by Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles Valery Mkrtoumian. The evening ended with Hamparian’s closing remarks and benediction offered by Western Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian. Look for additional images and information on the ANCA-WR Annual Banquet in upcoming issues of Asbarez.
Public officials and community figures in attendance included: Representative for Congressman Adam Schiff–Anahid Oshagan–Representative for Congresswoman Hilda Solis Yvette Martinez–California State Assemblymembers Thomas Calderon–Dario Frommer–Gloria Negrete-McLeod–as well as representatives for Assemblymember Carol Liu and Paul Koretz. California State Senators Jim Battin–Richard Polanco–and Jack Scott–as well as Los Angeles County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael Antonovich.
Other officials included Glendale City Council members including Rafi Manoukian–Frank Quintero–Bob Yousefian–and Dave Weaver; Burbank Councilmember Marsha Ramos; Torrance Councilmember Jack Messerlian; La Canada/Flintridge Mayor Anthony Portaninio; Los Angeles City Councilmembers Alex Padilla and Eric Garcetti–Councilmember Dennis Zine’s representative Janice Freedman–as well as Councilmember Tom LaBlonge representative Adrin Nazarian; Downey Councilmember Kirk Cartozian; Pasadena Councilmember Joyce Streator; Glendale Community College Trustee Armine Hagopian; Glendale Unified School District Board members Greg Kriokorian–Chuck Sambar–and Assistant Superintendent Alice Petrossian; Burbank Assistant Superintendent of Schools Greg Bowman; Los Angeles School Board members Julie Korenstein and Caprice Young. Law enforcement officials included West Hollywood Captain Lynda Castro–Glendale Police Chief Russell Siverling–Pasadena Police Chief Bernard Melekian. Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks was represented by Deputy Chief Margaret York.