LOS ANGELES—As the sun rose and settled above North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley on the morning of May 13, 2013 a breakfast meeting was marked by firsts. First-term Congressman Tony Cardenas, newly elected to represent California’s 29th Congressional District met with Elen Asatryan, who was enjoying her first day on the job in her new post as the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR).
The introductory working meeting over breakfast, which included the participation of ANCA national board member Raffi Hamparian, went exceptionally well.
“My first day and really first hour as the Executive Director of the ANCA-WR got off to a great start,” explained Asatryan after the meeting with Congressman Cardenas. “We are confident that Congressman Cardenas, whose tenure in Washington, DC as a federal legislator is just beginning, is going to be a powerful and effective voice for the thousands of Armenian American constituents who live in North Hollywood and all across the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley covered by the Congressman’s newly drawn district. We very much look forward to our ANCA San Fernando Valley – East Chapter, which has a great grassroots team, broadening their work with Congressman Cardenas in the months ahead,” Asatryan added.
At a recent congressional commemoration of the Armenian Genocide held at the U.S. Capitol and attended by over 100 ANCA supporters, Congressman Cardenas offered poignant remarks about the murder of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923. “The world is a horrible place, as much for the people who do horrible things, but equally for the people who do nothing about it; for the people who watch atrocities and do not do anything about it. I can honestly say that this country is a great, great country, but I am perplexed, confused, and disappointed that our country – at the highest levels – does not recognize the truth and is unwilling to say that the Armenian Genocide is a truth and that it happened and that it should never happen again,” stated Congressman Cardenas.
Congressman Cardenas was elected to the current 113th Congress in November of 2012. The 29th Congressional District represents a broad cross-section of communities, including an Armenian American constituency that has grown exponentially over the past decade. Before joining the ranks of the U.S. House of Representatives, Cardenas was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1996. He went on to serve three terms in the assembly and was later elected to the Los Angeles City Council, in 2003. An engineering degree, and a business background, prepared him for the day-to-day duties of an elected official and his experience has allowed him to find practical and realistic solutions to difficult problems. Born in Pacoima, Cárdenas was raised with ten brothers and sisters and still resides in the San Fernando Valley with his wife, Norma, and their children.
During their meeting, ANCA-WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan and Congressman Cardenas explored ways Armenian-Americans could be part of the many positive initiatives the Congressman has focused on during his career in public office. Of special interest to the ANCA is the Congressman’s interest in youth programs that seek to invest in the leaders of tomorrow. The ANCA-WR discussed a number of programs it has created and supported for students, including the ANCA-WR Internship Program, the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship Program. the ANCA Capital Gateway Program and the Path to College Program.
Many of the Armenian Americans residing in the East San Fernando Valley are strong supporters of the ANCA San Fernando Valley– East Chapter. The chapter is active in a number of outreach initiatives with elected officials and also in registering new voters through the ANCA’s Hye Votes campaign that has registered over 4,000 new Armenian American voters over the last twelve months.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential 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.