BY KATY SIMONIAN
The Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region announced that California State Senator Scott Wilk (R-21) will receive the prestigious Legislator of the Year Award at the 2022 ANCA-WR Awards Gala which will be held on Sunday, September 25 at The Beverly Hilton.
For his dedication to addressing issues of great importance to the Armenian American community and for his instrumental role in creating policies that reflect his political courage in service of the Armenian Cause, Senator Wilk is a shining example of moral leadership.
As the Minority Leader of the California State Republican Caucus, Senator Wilk has devoted his life and political career to making sure all Californians have a voice in Sacramento. He remains a prominent advocate for the Armenian American community, ranging from his policies to divest California’s public pension funds from the Turkish government to condemning the ongoing Azeri aggression toward the Republic of Artsakh. Heralded as an advocate for people with disabilities, the homeless, foster youth and defenseless animals, often the most vulnerable in our society, Senator Wilk is a man of immense integrity who puts his beliefs into action with effective legislation that continues to make an impact across our state.
Senator Wilk shares a deep connection to the Armenian community through his wife, Vanessa Safoyan Wilk, with whom he shares two beautiful children, Scott Jr. and Brooke, and two grandsons, Zeke and Finn, who are the light of his life. Honoring his family’s Armenian heritage holds deep significance for the Senator, as his support of genocide recognition and divestment policies in Turkey is a testament to the true American patriotism he has embodied with a legislative record that embraces democratic principles.
Inspired by a trip to Armenia and Artsakh with an ANCA-WR led delegation in 2013, Senator Wilk became one of the founding members of the Armenian Legislative Issues Caucus. A leader who believes in bipartisanship, Senator Wilk is a member of the bipartisan State Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange, chaired by State Senator Anthony Portantino of the 25th District.
Senator Wilk and Senator Portantino spearheaded divestment efforts by introducing SB 457 to require CalPERS and CalSTRS Boards to allow school districts and cities to opt out of investment vehicles issued by the government of Turkey. “California’s record of speaking out against human rights violations and crimes against humanity is strong,” said Senator Wilk. “With SB 457, we continue this important tradition and take a principled stand against Turkey’s shameful denial of the Armenian Genocide and aggression against the Republic of Artsakh. Silence is not an option, as it will embolden the government of Turkey to commit further crimes against humanity,” he added.
“Senator Wilk is a long-standing supporter of the Armenian American community and the issues that are important for us. His unwavering devotion to justice for the Armenian Genocide and his leadership in building relations between the State of California, Armenia and Artsakh are examples of his many years of exemplary public service,” said ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “With his beloved wife Vanessa’s encouragement and support, Senator Wilk embodies what it means to be an Armenian-by-Choice,” she added.
In January 2021, Senator Wilk became Minority Leader of the Republican party in a unanimous vote, highlighting the respect and trust he holds in the State Legislature.
On being named Legislator of the Year, the Senator reflects on the honor with the same thoughtful humility with which he leads. “Thank you for this profound and humbling award. Paying tribute to the inspiring legacy of my wife, Vanessa Safoyan’s family, and other Armenian families has been one of the greatest honors of my legislative career. I have many memories of sitting around our family dinner table listening to my wife’s family stories – stories of hard work and a love of freedom,” he says, beaming with pride. “The past injustices suffered by the Armenian community should never be denied or forgotten, nor should its incredible perseverance and pursuit of justice. I hope that my work at the Capitol, from recognizing the Armenian Genocide to supporting divestment in Turkey will reap lasting rewards for the Armenian community of our state, nation and world.”
His recent engagement with Armenian American community leaders reaffirms his position as one of the most influential allies of the Armenian people, building an inspiring legacy for generations.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan 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 ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
Katy Simonian is a member of the 2022 ANCA-WR Awards Gala Committee.