By Ani Shahinian
Asbarez Staff Writer
We know. . .we’re not Time magazine (although we like to believe we’re headed on that track. . .have you seen our layout recently?). We also know that it is not commonplace for Asbarez to have a "Man of the Year" featured in its holiday edition. After all–it’s never been done before and–simply put–it’s just not about one person.
This year we–nevertheless–decided to highlight an individual who is known by almost everyone in the community; yet–only a few people truly know the real guy behind the public figure. Who could it be other than Ardashes Kassakhian? You know you’ve at least heard his name mentioned somewhere. Whether it be as Armenian National Committee of America Western Region Government Relations Director or charismatic host of ANC-TV–there’s more to Ardashes than meets the eye.
His experience and knowledge in political activism is extensive. Yes–we know.
He has worked on local campaigns in state and federal elections and in Washington–DC on a variety of Hai Tahd issues–including genocide recognition and aid to Armenia and Karabagh. His dedication to Armenian issues reaches back to his activist days in college where–as a student leader at UCLA–Ardashes led the grassroots effort to oppose the establishment of a Turkish studies chair by the Republic of Turkey. The decision was a watershed victory for Armenian-Americans who were concerned about the corruption of American academia by the government of Turkey and its agents of genocide denials. Impressive? We like to think so.
Yet–Ardy (as his dear friends call him) could just as easily have been a writer for Saturday Night Live thanks to his wit and sense of humor on a variety of topics. Whether you’re feeling down about a romantic affair gone sour–or are demoralized about the US (once again) not recognizing the Armenian genocide–you can always count on Ardy to bring a smile to your face and offer a sense of hope and relief. If he sounds like a male June Cleaver–he’s even better.
Take away the tie and suit. What do you have? No–not the cover of Men’s Health magazine (come on–who really is?)–but someone who is on the frontlines of not only Armenian issues–but also embraces a deep understanding of international developmen’s–along with local and national issues.
Not quite the halls of Congress yet–but he does grace the halls of the Belmont building–as well as those of Asbarez and Horizon to bring an occasional smile and the more common hearty laughter–even stiff political conversation–to those who cross his path.
We wish him success in all that he tries to achieve in 2005. He certainly deserves it.