BY NORA YACOUBIAN AND GATO SCATENA
Each year for nearly a decade, the Lebanese American Foundation bestows upon particularly noteworthy member of the community the Dr. Ray R. Irani “Pride of Heritage” Award. This prestigious award represents much more than its humble title would suggest; its true nature is all-encompassing. The award aims to recognize individuals who, while having a clear and profound “pride in their heritage” and family values, have also managed to become kings and queens in their respective industries, and who possess the philanthropic drive to use their professional success to the benefit of their community, culture, and countries. So, as one can imagine, this award is one that rests on the mantles of some of the most noteworthy Lebanese-Americans in the country. This year, it was the decision of the LAF board to invite Harry Nadjarian into these distinguished ranks.
This particular Saturday, 5th of April, the weather in Southern California was pleasantly hospitable to the black-tie clad callers who arrived on the red carpet of the Beverly Hilton Hotel to honor Nadjarian. Of course, with E!’s Kerri Kasem (daughter of legendary Casey Kasem) as the master of ceremonies, and the New Wayne Foster Dance Orchestra along with multiple Grammy Award-winning superstar Natalie Cole performing, this event would be an easy draw to the general public regardless of focus. Alas, it was quickly and comfortably sold out to over 700 people who more importantly wished to pay tribute to Nadjarian, and rightfully so.
Touching far too many lives in his notable career than could fit in BH Hotel’s International Ballroom, some insight into Harry Nadjarian’s life is required to explain the house reaching capacity, and with such eminent attendees. He was born and raised in Lebanon. Nadjarian’s entrepreneurial spirit perhaps began to grow while he was performing as the marketing director for a successful travel business in Beirut, but that spirit truly proved fruit when at the age of 23, his country’s civil war spawned a negative impact on his business, and thus persuaded him to build an international career in the United States.
Starting out with very little, Harry’s focused determination led him to the epitome of the American Dream. Since those early days, he founded and built Industrial Motor Power Corporation, a company which is now considered to be one of the largest privately owned industrial power equipment trading companies in the world. He and his wife Cheryl also produced a beautiful family including their children Alexandra and Nicholas, and the most recent additions to the family, their daughter-in-law Marrisa and granddaughter Simone.
Harry Nadjarian’s success both professionally and personally is without contestation, but what’s more, his “pride of heritage” is enviable. With his success, he continuously donates to many organizations, including the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, the Earthquake Relief Fund for Armenia, the Armenian Missionary Association of America, the Armenian Cultural Foundation, Armenian schools and churches in California, the Haigazian University in Lebanon, The Lebanese American University, the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America, the Armenian Relief Society, AGBU, the City of Hope, the Orphans Fund, Hamazkayin, the Lebanese American Foundation, the Armenian Apostolic Schools of California, and the Armenian General Athletic Union. Both Nadjarian and his wife have maintained a continued sense of responsibility to all of the communities of which they are members.
At the gala event, Nadjarian was introduced by The Honorable Judge Dick Tervizian, and together with Dr. Ray R. Irani himself, was presented with the 2014 Dr. Ray R. Irani “Pride of Heritage” Award. “There are certainly far more successful people out there,” Nadjarian noted whilst on the podium, “but as long as I can do my share, I find fulfillment and contentment in that.” Despite his great success, Nadjarian clearly takes the most pride in what he considers to be his greatest accomplishments; being a loving husband, and a devoted father and grandfather. As is apropos for a man receiving such an accolade, before leaving the stage he quipped to his peers “thank you very much for this heavy award.”
The non-profit House of Lebanon, which operates from their offices at 4800 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, is committed to generating progressive and functional programs to address the specific needs of Lebanese Americans, Americans of Lebanese Descent and our culturally diverse communities.
Previous honorees of the Dr. Ray R. Irani “Pride of Heritage” Award include Ambassador Gilbert Chaghoury, Mr. Ghassan M. Saab, Mr. Mike Ahmar, Mr. James N. Koury, Mr. Vatche [Bob] Manoukian, Dr. Paul F. Boulos.