Glendale: Bringing in a fresh perspective

Glendale News Press
April 21 2004

Bringing in a fresh perspective
Armen Carapetian relishing his role as government relations director
of the ANC’s Western Region.

By Josh Kleinbaum, News-Press

NORTHEAST GLENDALE – The whiteboard is sitting on the floor in Armen
Carapetian’s office at the Armenian National Committee’s Western
Region office. Carapetian, in his third week as the region’s
government relations director, has not had time to hang it.

The board is divided into four sections, each with a heading: the
political system, knowing the issues, organization, and public

“If you can bring that together, it brings you a lot of power,”
Carapetian said.

The whiteboard is Carapetian’s blueprint for the ANC’s new leadership
institute, a class to teach local Armenian Americans how to be
political activists. The concept was in the works before Carapetian,
33, arrived at the ANC’s Western Region from Maryland in early April,
but it did not have his structure.

The leadership institute is one of a handful of ideas that Carapetian
hopes to bring to the Glendale-based organization.

“I want to put organization into this office,” Carapetian said. “I’ve
already started working to make the office more efficient and
professional. The issues are constants. There’s room for improvement
within the organization.”

Carapetian’s presence alone should improve the organization’s
efficiency just by providing another set of hands. The staff has been
short-handed for months, and Ardashes Kassakhian has been the de
facto government relations director since his promotion from that
role to executive director in December.

“To have someone who’s passionate about the issues like Armen on
board brings energy to our office and our cause in general,”
Kassakhian said. “It does free me up. We’re able to be in more

“On April 24, we always get a high volume of requests to come speak.
With Armen on board, we can double the number of events we can speak
at. Until they invent cloning, that’s pretty good.”

Carapetian, born in Iran and raised in Maryland, has been involved
with Armenian organizations since childhood. He protested with the
Armenian Youth Federation as a teen, and spent a summer interning at
the ANC’s Washington, D.C. office.

He had his first real activist experience in 1997, when the ANC
banded with 31 other Armenian organizations to purchase the Mount
Davidson Cross from the city of San Francisco, so they could use it
as a memorial to the Armenian Genocide. Because the cross is on park
land, the purchase needed approval on a citywide vote, and was placed
on a ballot as Proposition F.

“I was on the streets, giving people fliers that said, ‘Yes on F,’ ”
Carapetian said. “It was a good fight.”

He returned to Maryland and started a local chapter of the ANC.
Within two years, the group successfully lobbied the state
legislature to adopt a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Now, Carapetian is bringing that activist spirit to Glendale, where
he will serve as the Western Region’s liaison to elected officials.
And he joined the organization at the busiest time of the year,
during the weeks leading up to the commemoration this Saturday of the
Armenian Genocide.

“I’ve seen an office like this in D.C., but I’ve never been in a
position like this before,” Carapetian said. “There’s a bit of a
learning curve I’m going through right now. When you’re thrown into
the fire like this, you learn a lot.”

The ANC Western Region’s office is at 104 N. Belmont St., Suite 200.
For more information, call 500-1918.