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11 Jan, 2023

And the Leadership Award goes to...

3 min read

At Birthright Armenia, we see the in-country volunteering experience for our participants and alumni as an important step to building a practical relationship with Armenia. We believe in encouraging and fostering alumni to achieve their life goals while being part of Armenia’s path forward.

The Alumni Leadership Recognition Awards program is one way we choose to celebrate alumni achievements and to showcase the endless possibilities of meaningful engagement. We designed the leadership award program to have seven categories of recognition including: Spirit of Birthright Armenia, Professional Achievement, Young Philanthropist/Give Back Service, Valor, Artistic/Cultural Achievement, Mentorship, and Civic Participation. While a large number of alumni are involved in very worthy initiatives, eight winners were selected from the list of finalists. All selected winners were then invited to select an Armenian nonprofit organization of their choice to receive a $1,000 donation on their behalf. Congratulations to all our winners!

Leaders of Today and Tomorrow

Spirit of Birthright Armenia Award given to Karina Halajian (USA, 2016) and Garo Seferian (Argentina, 2019), for having actively represented our organization where they live and being active ambassadors for our program. The organization they selected is the Women's Support Center (WSC).

Professional Achievement Award given to Tania Sahakian (USA, 2005). Since 2005, Tania has impacted Armenia as Director of Development of TUMO and established key innovation collaborations as Regional Director at DISQO. Tania has earmarked Bari Mama, a charitable organization created by Armenian mothers' efforts, to receive $1,000. Its goal is to support children with disabilities.

Young Philanthropist/Give Back Service Award given to Nanor Balabanian (USA, 2022). Nanor is the founder and director of the Hidden Road Initiative and has been actively engaged in philanthropy for almost 12 years now. She has been implementing yearly educational summer camps for students in remote villages and managing an online English-learning program of over 70 students from around Armenia and Artsakh. Nanor chose the Hidden Road Initiative as the recipient organization for her $1,000.

Valor Award given to Marguerita Doudaklian (Lebanon, 2019). During the 2020 Artsakh War, Marguerita was vital in ensuring humanitarian aid delivery to soldiers, residents, and displaced residents from Artsakh. From maneuvering through the risks during times of war to trekking through adverse weather conditions to deliver essential aid to border villages during the Artsakh gas crisis, Marguerita continuously goes above and beyond to serve those in need. Today, she serves as the Operations Director of Kooyrigs, where she works to develop projects, facilitates on-ground immediate aid operations (Parukh, Aghavno, Berdzor, and all across Armenia’s eastern border villages in Syunik, Vayots Dzor, and Gegharkunik), and manages beneficiary relations. Marguerita has earmarked Kooyrigs to receive a donation of $1,000.

Mentorship Award given to Armen Kherlopian (USA, 2005). Armen is an accomplished data scientist, researcher, entrepreneur, investor, and expert in AI. He has been able to shine a light on start-ups in Armenia among global Venture Capital. After completing his Ph.D., he formed a tech accelerator to help Armenian start-ups.

Armen has earmarked Little Bird Armenian Development Inc. to receive the $1,000 donation. The goal of Little Bird is to raise money in the diaspora for specific sourcing projects on a case-by-case basis to support Armenian border villages and communities that are threatened.

Civic Participation/Public Service Award given to Anoush Baghdassarian (USA, 2018) and Tamara Shahabian Voskanian (USA, 2005). Anoush Baghdassarian is a Harvard Law School graduate. She is the co-founder of the Rerooted archive, which documented more than 200 testimonies from Syrian-Armenians who have fled the conflict in Syria, and she helped organize and participated in a conference in Armenia regarding the 2020 Karabakh war. While in Armenia, Anoush also ran a fellowship program she created through the Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ) for four law students.

Tamara Shahabian Voskanian is an ethics attorney and a passionate advocate for rule of law. As one of the founders of the Center for Truth and Justice, a nonprofit organization established in November 2020 in response to the Nagorno-Karabakh war, she is part of a group of lawyers overseeing the collection of firsthand testimonial evidence from war survivors via in-depth, recorded interviews. The alumni have earmarked CFTJ to receive a donation of $1,000.

"Our alumni are a huge asset of our organization. We've had the chance to see them grow as leaders from the time they were program participants and closely followed their careers. We will always encourage their interests and support their projects and initiatives that benefit the local communities of Armenia,noted Lida Balasanyan and Zohrab Melkonyan from the Next Step Alumni Program.

If you also want to become a leader in your field, Birthright Armenia can provide you with the right tools to be impactful in Armenia. Apply now and join us!


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