By: Katy Simonian
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) will salute L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian with the prestigious Advocate for Justice Award for his decades of outstanding leadership for the City of Los Angeles and for his bold efforts to stand in solidarity with the people of Artsakh in the name of genocide prevention and justice. The Armenian-American community will have the opportunity to honor Krekorian and his history making achievements at the 2023 Awards Gala which will take place on Sunday, November 12th at The Omni Hotel in Los Angeles.
Following nearly ten months of Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of Artsakh and its military onslaught which resulted in the forced depopulation of Artsakh, the ANCA-WR Board seriously considered canceling this year’s Awards Gala. However, remembering the inspiring words of Artsakh Foreign Minister and last year’s Freedom Award honoree David Babayan, who is currently unlawfully imprisoned in Baku, the ANCA-WR Board decided that it must not cower in the face of Azeri aggression and that it must forge ahead in a show of unity and resilience against the injustices inflicted on our people, pledging to donate a portion of the proceeds toward humanitarian assistance for Artsakh genocide survivors.
On August 23, 2023, L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian and his colleague Councilmember Traci Park unveiled the naming of the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Granville Avenue, designating the area “Artsakh Square.” The significance of this measure is the fact that the newly named intersection is directly in front of the building housing the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles. A poetic act of defiance, full of substance and clarity, Council President Krekorian’s move serves as a reminder to Azerbaijan and to all people that Artsakh is the center of Armenia’s ancestral lands and that Los Angeles stands in solidarity with the Armenians of Artsakh and with this fundamental truth.
His leadership in calling for the United States to recognize and protect the people of Artsakh from genocide is another act of political courage, adding to the decades of excellence with which Paul Krekorian has served his community.
As the first Armenian-American to hold elected office in the City of Los Angeles and the first to serve as Council President, Krekorian continues to make history as a leading voice for justice for the Armenian Genocide as he maintains his support for relief measures to aid the besieged Armenians of Artsakh.
Krekorian has represented the second district on the Los Angeles City Council since 2010. He was previously a member of the California State Assembly, representing the 43rd Assembly district, serving the largest Armenian-American constituency in the Assembly.
A first-generation college graduate, he received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Southern California and his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Before entering politics, he enjoyed a successful 20-year career as an attorney in the private sector. Born in the San Fernando Valley, Krekorian was raised with an appreciation of public service from his mother JoAnn and father Erwin, a World War II veteran who served in the Marine Corps. As a man of immense integrity, heralded for the respect he commands from all political parties, Krekorian continues to inspire young generations of Armenians and people of all walks of life to embrace the rich diversity of Los Angeles and the opportunity to give back in service to others.
As Chair of the City Council’s powerful Budget and Finance Committee for the past ten years, Krekorian led the city to recovery from two fiscal calamities – the Great Recession and the economic collapse caused by the strain of 2020’s COVID-pandemic, completing 11 balanced budgets and building the strongest reserves in the City’s history.
In 2022, Krekorian was unanimously elected by his fellow Councilmembers to serve as the 26th President of the Los Angeles City Council, demonstrating leadership across the political aisle to unite the city in a time of great crisis and strife. In an era of deep political disillusion, which causes people to lose faith in their elected officials and the political process, Paul Krekorian has stood as an example of exceptional leadership.
For his years of service to the City of Los Angeles and the Armenian community, he received the Gratitude Medal of Armenia in recognition of his work to stand in solidarity with Armenia and Artsakh to build a peaceful future. As his wife Tamar and children Andrew and Lori proudly watched as he received the medal from Armenia’s Consul General Armen Baibourtian, Krekorian felt the presence of the many generations of his family who came before him.
In 2023, he was awarded the St. Nerses Shnorhali Medal, by order of His Holiness Karekin II, in recognition of his advocacy for the Armenian people in the Diaspora and in Armenia and Artsakh. As the people of Artsakh have been forced to leave their homes to escape impending genocide, Krekorian continues to unite officials across Southern California, most notably L.A. Mayor Karen Bass to raise their collective efforts calling upon the Biden Administration to act to prevent further crimes against humanity through recognition and crucial humanitarian assistance.
In 2013, Krekorian joined an official delegation of the ANCA-WR on a legislative trip to Armenia and Artsakh. Throughout his tenure, he has hosted many leaders of Armenia and Artsakh in Council chambers, welcoming and solidifying the relationship between the city and the Armenian homeland and the Sister City relationship between Los Angeles and Yerevan. He has also spearheaded the USC Policy Fellows Program with the USC Institute of Armenian Studies, hosting scholars from Armenia who receive training in local government from the City of Los Angeles. In 2015, along with then-Mayor Eric Garcetti, Krekorian ensured that city resources were generously allocated to the Armenian community’s March for Justice in commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide which turned out 166,000 peaceful protesters who marched six miles within the city toward the Turkish consulate.
“The ANCA-WR is proud to stand alongside L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian as he continues to advocate for the local Armenian-American community as well as the people of Armenia and Artsakh,” says ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “He has made history as the first Armenian to hold elected office in the City of Los Angeles and we are confident that because of his transformative leadership, many others will follow in his footsteps. He is a formidable ally who has created an unshakeable space of support for Armenia, as his presence continues to prove impactful across the local, national and global political sphere in the fight for justice.”
While the crisis is critical, as threats against Armenia continue, Krekorian’s commitment is strong, clear and unwavering.
“I am deeply moved to receive this honor from the ANCA Western Region,” says Council President Krekorian. “The opportunity to serve the people is an honor in itself, but I am grateful for this recognition of my service, which I consider my duty to the people I represent.”
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” His words offer a call to action for those who would remain silent while witnessing the suffering of their fellow man. Council President Paul Krekorian’s career in public service has answered that call, amplifying the voices of the Armenian American community, showcasing that injustices committed against Armenia and the Armenians of Artsakh are in fact a threat to justice prevailing in the United States of America and around the world. He has dedicated himself to magnifying the most sacred connection between our local Armenian community and the people of Armenia and Artsakh, as the way forward depends on shared policies of action, for the sake of justice and peace.
For more information about L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian’s many contributions to the Armenian-American community as well as the people of Southern California and Armenia, and to purchase tickets for the 2023 ANCA-Western Region Awards Gala, please click here. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s gala will be donated to support Artsakh Genocide survivors.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan 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 in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
Katy Simonian is a member of the 2023 ANCA-Western Region Awards Banquet/Gala Committee.