The Board of the Civilitas Foundation announced Apo Boghigian as the foundation’s new director. Since its establishment in 2008, Civilitas has pioneered civil society strengthening through open public discussions and polling, reporting and analysis, collaborated in cross-border activities and most notably, established the ground-breaking, trendsetting media outlet, CivilNet.
Boghigian, who was born in Anjar, Lebanon, studied in Los Angeles, and has lived in Armenia for 18 of the last 30 years, will head both entities.
“CivilNet.am is now a globally recognized bilingual source for news and analysis, a proud achievement of the Civilitas Foundation, which was established precisely to bring meaningful change in Armenian society. This work will expand and diversify under Apo Boghigian’s able leadership and exceptional commitment to the ideals that drive us — a fair society, a welcoming country where individuals can prosper and contribute to humanity,” said Salpi Ghazarian, the founding director of Civilitas.
Boghigian was a Candidate in Philosophy, studying with the late Professor Avedis Sanjian, when he interrupted his doctoral studies in Armenian literature to take on the position of editor-in-chief of the Asbarez daily newspaper, in Los Angeles, in 1985. Under his leadership, the newspaper grew to become one of the Diaspora’s two most influential media outlets.
In 1990, in the last years of the Soviet Union, as the Karabakh movement had ushered in a political awakening, and the call for reunification and independence gained momentum, Mr. Boghigian repatriated to Armenia to establish several media outlets, including the Yerkir newspaper. He also set up the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Press Office, which provided indispensable daily reports from the frontlines of the Karabakh War and soon after, the newly independent Armenia. As founding editor of Yerkir Daily, he adopted the principles of independent journalism to satisfy an international public clamoring for news and analysis from the region.
“The movement had awakened a whole nation,” he says. “I couldn’t, with a clear conscience, appeal to the Armenian people to become a part of it, while sitting in Los Angeles.”
Upon returning to the U.S. in 2008, he assumed the editorship of Asbarez once more, and expanded the newspaper’s capacity, reach and coverage. He stayed with the Asbarez until this month.
Boghigian will lead Civilitas and CivilNet to new frontiers. “I always intended to return to Armenia. And to return as a member of the CivilNet family is a compelling and meaningful opportunity. It is also a huge responsibility. To be working among and to be defining a vision with a group of committed young professionals is very exciting,” he says.
With a staff of three dozen, CivilNet focuses on LIVE broadcasts, investigative, as well as advocacy and solutions-based journalism. Bilingual (Armenian and English) reporting, data-driven analysis from all corners of Armenia, Karabakh, and the Diaspora are at the heart of CivilNet’s work. In 2013, CivilNet was the only Armenian media organization to report from Syria. In 2018, 16 million people viewed CivilNet’s 24-hour LIVE broadcast of the “velvet revolution”. In between, it was CivilNet’s pioneering efforts to cover each of the small, targeted civil protests, which culminated in the successful political transformation of 2018.
“Civilitas was founded by former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, at a time when civil society work needed to expand and be more impactful. Today, Civilitas can and will serve a new role as a center for exploration and analysis. CivilNet is an integral part of that operation to bring nuanced, complex understandings of the challenges facing Armenians to the public, in Armenian and in English. Apo Boghigian’s experience and passion are the perfect combination to carry forward this mission,” concluded Ghazarian.
Boghigian will step into his new position on September 1.