LOS ANGELES—As part the Los Angeles—Yerevan Sister City relationship, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies has initiated the Policy Fellows Program, in collaboration with the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian and the office of Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan.
The Program selects and places mid-career professionals from Armenia in policy planning positions throughout the City of Los Angeles to learn from and contribute to the process of improving lives in both cities. The first two fellows, Anna Aktaryan and Davit Shindyan, began their first day on September 20, the former in the Bureau of Engineering and the latter in the Department of Sanitation.
The USC Institute of Armenian Studies, the City of Los Angeles, and the Government of Armenia are working together to create a program, where “Armenian civil servants can work directly with a City agency or agencies, learn how their processes work, and study firsthand the mechanisms in place to create a successful and sustainable system of governance,” states the Memorandum of Understanding between the parties.
“This unique opportunity to observe and learn best practices at a micro level will make it possible to learn about the tough task of policy development and policy implementation – something which is key to good and responsive governance anywhere, and nowhere more so than in Armenia where the population urgently desires a government that in fact recognizes the people’s needs and not only develops but implements appropriate and effective policies,” said Director of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies, Salpi Ghazarian. “I worked within Armenia’s government for nearly a decade and I know that good programs provide the hugely necessary context for education and democratization.”
The Memorandum was signed by Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, and Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of the Republic of Armenia Tigran Avinyan on July 2, 2018.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, who visited Los Angeles in June, soon after the change of government in Armenia, welcomed the program. “The program is directly linked to some of the government priorities: acceleration of a sustainable economy through environmentally friendly technologies and capital investments in infrastructure, as well as recruitment of competent young professionals into the public sector. In this regard, we are confident that our partnership with the City of Los Angeles and the USC Institute of Armenian Studies will be a cornerstone in reaching our objectives.”
Councilmember Paul Krekorian shared Mr. Avinyan’s confidence. “As a proud Trojan and an Armenian American, this partnership with the USC Institute of Armenian Studies makes me especially proud,” he said. “Our program will create lasting international connections and support the professional development of public servants from Armenia. It is a concrete opportunity for our friends abroad to gain valuable insights into how our local government innovates to solve problems and works to improve communities.”
The first cohort of policy fellows comes with impressive experience. An architect and researcher, Anna Aktaryan has worked in Italy, Israel and Armenia, focusing on urban planning and city development. Davit Shindyan is an environmentalist specializing in waste management. He has worked both for the Government of Armenia and private companies to enhance environmental transparency in the mining sector.
In addition to their work with the City of Los Angeles, the fellows will benefit from the unique positioning and academic resources available at the University of Southern California. Their first meeting with former dean of the USC Price School of Policy, Professor Daniel Mazmanian, resulted in the Fellows gaining valuable insights into the behind-the-scenes interactions between politics and policy.
The USC Institute of Armenian Studies Policy Fellows will continue next semester with a new cohort.
Established in 2005, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies supports multidisciplinary scholarship to re-define, explore and study the complex issues that make up the contemporary Armenian experience—from post-genocide to the developing Republic of Armenia to the evolving diaspora. The institute encourages research, publications and public service, and promotes links among the global academic and Armenian communities.