SAN FRANCISCO–While delivering the keynote address at the Armenian Genocide Commemoration in San Francisco on April 24th–San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown surprised and delighted the audience by announcing his appointment of Haig Baghdassarian as the first Armenian-American to serve on the city’s Human Rights Commission. The Mayor took the opportunity of the gathering of several hundred Armenian-Americans to swear-in Baghdassarian–who assumed his responsibilities as member of the commission on May 24th.
Haig Baghdassarian is a San Francisco resident and a recent graduate of Hastings College of the Law. Previously–Haig and his wife–Ani Boghigian Baghdassarian–were longtime residents of southern California–both having lived in Glendale for several years–and for a brief period in Burbank.
Most important to Baghdassarian have been organizations and projects dedicated to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He has been an active member of the Armenian National Committee for over a decade–interning in Washington DC in 1990 and volunteering in the national headquarters in 1991. He was a member of the ANC’s Western Region Governmental Relations Committee and an active member of the Burbank chapter–serving as chairperson of the Schools Committee. In that capacity–he organized a lecture/discussion program for Burbank public high schools–educating students about the Armenian Genocide. Baghdassarian was also a member of the Genocide Project–interviewing approximately 20 survivors–documenting their first-hand experiences.
Since he moved to San Francisco in 1998 and began attending law school–Haig has remained involved in the Armenian community through his involvement with the Bay Area ANC. Taline Sanassarian–special assistant to the Mayor–presented Baghdassarian’s nomination to Mayor Brown–who was enthusiastic about the appointment.
The mission of San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission–comprised of eleven commissioners appointed by the Mayor–is to advocate for human and civil rights; investigate and mediate discrimination complaints; monitor city contracts to insure non-discrimination and affirmative action in employment; promote and certify minority–and women-owned local businesses in city contracting; resolve community disputes and issues involving individual or systemic illegal discrimination; and provide technical assistance–information and referrals related to human rights and social services.