Last weekend, members of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors and Staff took a Road Trip to Northern California to connect with local Armenian-American communities through multiple town meetings. Three separate events were held in San Francisco, Sunnyvale, and Fresno, serving as valuable opportunities to meet with local ANCA leaders and community members to discuss the organization’s platform and priorities, incentivize local activism, sign up community members as Rapid Responders and Monthly Donors, and discuss issues of regional and national importance.
The ANCA-WR delegation highlighted its internship program and grassroots development efforts, as well as the upcoming Grassroots Conference and Gala Banquet. Robust Q&A sessions and open discussions sharing participants’ concerns and suggestions followed.
“This Road Trip was designed by the Board to meet our local communities outside the immediate Southern California area to allow local community activists to engage in a direct and open exchange of ideas with ANCA-WR leadership. We learned a lot from these Town Hall meetings and are grateful to our Northern California local chapters for hosting us. We look forward to future trips to continue our interaction with local communities not only in California but throughout the Western Region,” commented ANCA-WR Board Chair Nora Hovsepian.
On Friday, August 11th, prior to the first Town Hall meeting in San Francisco, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom met with ANCA leadership at the ANCA-SF Bay Area Chapter office, including board members from the Western Region and the San Francisco Bay Area. It was a follow up to the July 28 meeting between Newsom and the SF board. ANCA representatives expressed appreciation for his steadfast support over his 20 years in elected office on key issues such as Armenian Genocide.
Newsom expressed particular interest in opportunities to further develop economic ties between the State of California and the Republic of Armenia. He is inclined to support efforts such as reestablishing a California trade office in Yerevan, particularly considering his background in the wine industry and understanding of the IT sector.
Also discussed were the recent divestment efforts from the University of California’s holdings in the government of Turkey which was initiated by the AYF and members of the ASAs on the nine undergraduate UC campuses, and from two major public pension funds–CalPERS and CalSTRS–at the initiative of the ANCA-WR. Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian has championed the issue in the California State Legislature. The bill which he introduced–AB 1597–was passed unanimously by the State Assembly earlier this year and is currently pending before the State Senate.
Newsom seemed very disturbed upon learning of the Caruso organization’s recent rejection of a genocide denial ad at the Americana on Brand, and pledged his support to the Armenian American community on this issue.
The Town Halls were led by ANCA-WR Board Chair Nora Hovsepian and ANCA-WR Board Members Sako Berberian, Raffi Kassabian, Anahid Oshagan, as well as ANCA- WR Chief Legislative Consultant Haig Baghdassarian, ANCA-WR Grassroots Development Coordinator Aram Manoukian, and ANCA-WR Administrator Sarine Boyadjian.
After hearing from the delegation about ANCA-WR projects and priorities, members of the San Francisco, Sunnyvale, and Fresno Armenian communities were able to discuss issues of importance to them and, most importantly, learn about ways to personally get involved in grassroots activism to advance the Armenian Cause. The ANCA-WR hopes to continue taking advantage of these kinds of opportunities to connect with local community members. By personally engaging with Armenian-Americans, the ANCA-WR is able to energize and encourage them to join the growing movement of Armenian-American activism.
“We were happy to have the ANCA-WR Board of Directors in the Bay Area, informing the community about its initiatives. We look forward to working with the ANCA-WR to advance the Armenian-American cause,” stated Matt Senekerimian, the ANCA’s San Francisco Bay Area Chair. “Members of our community were pleased that the ANCA-WR Board stopped in Fresno to share what is being worked on in the state. Fresno and the Central Valley are unique places,” added ANCA Central California’s Sevag Tateosian.
The ANCA-WR Town Hall series is an effort to reactivate and engage Armenian American communities throughout the Western United States. The meetings are led by ANCA-WR senior staff and board members, who provide attendees with an overview of the organization, its priorities on the local, state, and federal levels, and recent developments affecting Armenian-Americans, Armenia, and Artsakh. During the townhalls, community members have an opportunity to ask questions, discuss local community needs, make recommendations, and learn about ways to get involved with ANCA efforts locally.
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.