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Monday, July 30, 2012

Hundreds Gather for Weekend of Festivities in Honor of the AGBU New
York Summer Internship Program's 25th Anniversary

Milestone Occasion Marked by a Series of Reunions and Fundraisers that
Brought in Over $100,000 for Internship Scholarship Fund

For twenty five years, the AGBU New York Summer Internship Program
(NYSIP) has been creating professional development opportunities and
lasting memories, and this weekend's silver jubilee celebrations gave
alumni and supporters even more to look back on. From Friday, July 20
to Sunday, July 22, 2012, hundreds gathered in the city to reconnect
with old friends, learn about new NYSIP initiatives, and honor all who
have made the program possible. The highlight event was the gala on
Saturday, July 21, 2012, which was attended by AGBU President Berge
Setrakian and Mrs. Vera Setrakian; Central Board members M. Michael
Ansour, Nazareth Festekjian and Sarkis Jebejian; His Excellency Garen
Nazarian, Armenia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations,
and Mrs. Nana Nazarian; Very Reverend Father Simeon Odabashian,
Diocesan Vicar, and Reverend Father Mardiros Chevian, Dean of the
Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; and NYSIP Committee
Co-Chair Raffi Balian.

The festivities began at a Friday night mixer that gave close to 340
alumni and friends the first opportunity to greet familiar
faces. Organized by the AGBU Young Professionals of Greater New York
(YPGNY) and held at the popular lounge, Pranna, the event also served
as a fundraiser benefitting NYSIP scholarships, which enable deserving
students to participate in the program.

The following afternoon, more intimate gatherings were held across
Manhattan, as individual NYSIP classes came together for their own
mini reunions. Different groups spanning generations met at sites they
had frequented during their NYSIP summer to reminisce about
discovering the city together and the defining moments that helped
them pave their career paths.

On the night of the much-anticipated gala, over 275 guests filled the
halls of the downtown venue, Battery Gardens. Against a backdrop of
New York City landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis
Island, Serge Kassardjian, the Chair of the 25th Anniversary Planning
Committee and Summer Internship Program Committee member, delivered
the welcoming remarks. He thanked all who had travelled from Brazil,
Canada, France, Lebanon, South Africa and Switzerland, in addition to
several US cities, to take part in the celebration. Himself a former
intern from 2000, Kassardjian said, `I know I speak for everyone who
has completed or been affiliated with this program when I say it
provides a key to a unique Armenian community that is both a
professional network and international group of lifelong friends.'
Kassardjian then introduced Father Odabashian, who spoke on behalf of
the Eastern Diocese Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, noting that
over the past five years, the Diocese has benefitted from its
partnership with AGBU to host the Diocesan interns.

It was the NYSIP alumni, representing nearly half of the attendees,
who were full of praise for the event's honorees - all of whom were
chosen by the former interns comprising the NYSIP 25th Anniversary
Celebration Committee. Their sentiments were echoed by Raffi Balian,
Co-Chair of the Summer Internship Program Committee, as he led the
subsequent presentation of awards. Mr. Balian stated, `Tonight, we
honor three important categories of individuals, who have inspired us
through their examples. First, we are grateful to our founders, Rita
and Vartkess Balian, who volunteered countless hours and raised
significant funds for over 20 years to turn their vision into reality,
building a program that has helped over 800 Armenians from around the
world to advance in their careers. Second, we are thankful to the
Director of Central Board Programs, Anita Anserian, who serves with
devotion and dedication as a tireless advocate for the program and our
youth. And finally, we recognize the committed individuals who have
acted as supervisors for six or more years.'

The first awards presenter, 2006 alumna Ella Baroyan, acknowledged the
ten supervisors who have given scores of students both the skills and
the confidence to start their careers, namely: Gregory Amerkanian
(Merrill Lynch senior vice president), Anna Bruno (AXA Advisors
financial consultant), Ted Candella (Merrill Lynch senior financial
advisor), Yervant Demirjian (Interaudi Bank managing director),
Dr. James Giglio (Columbia University Medical Center emergency room
associate clinical professor), Dr. Edgar Housepian (Columbia
University Medical Center former professor of Neurological Surgery),
Movses Hovsepian (New York University Langone Medical Center pharmacy
supervisor), Chris Parnagian (O'Hare Parnagian LLP attorney), Patrick
Sarkissian (SarkissianMason founder/CEO), and Emmanuel Tchividjian
(Ruder Finn ethics officer). Reflecting upon the honor, Mr. Candella
commented, `AGBU has been a special relationship for me. I am proud to
be a part of an organization that puts so much time, effort, energy
and financial resources behind their leaders of tomorrow. I have
mentored many hard working, intelligent, dedicated students from AGBU
that I consider to be of the highest caliber, and I only wish I had
the same opportunity to be a part of a program like this when I was in

Following the supervisors' awards ceremony, a special tribute was paid
to Anita Anserian, the AGBU Director of Central Board Programs, for
her numerous years of dedication not only to NYSIP but to all of the
organization's youth initiatives. Presenter Melania Melikian (NYSIP
2008) applauded Mrs. Anserian's continuous and passionate championing
of AGBU's younger constituents, acting as a strong role model for all
youth. Taking the podium, Mrs. Anserian explained that NYSIP has
always been a labor of love, and that she takes great pleasure from
meeting the new interns year after year, and forming a special bond
with every one. Addressing all NYSIP participants, she stated, `Each
year, I wait anxiously for June to come so that I can meet that
summer's interns. You should know how much I enjoy getting to know
each of you throughout the program. It gives me immense pride to see
you grow as individuals by the end of each session, and to continue to
watch you prosper and give back to AGBU in the years that follow..'

Each intern that passes through NYSIP's doors knows that their
experience would not have been possible without Rita and Vartkess?
Balian, the program's visionary co-founders and Emeritus Life
Chairpersons. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Balian established and managed an
unprecedented initiative. Before bestowing Mrs. Balian with an
honorary gift, Alexis Halejian (NYSIP 2005) recounted the many ways
they led NYSIP's remarkable growth, helping it expand from its first
year, when it hosted 13 students, to a total of 800 accomplished young
leaders today. To a standing ovation, Mrs. Balian addressed the
guests, stating: `My husband Vartkess and I initiated the New York
Summer Internship Program in 1987, the year he became President of
AGBU's Central Committee of America, to give Armenian students career
and life-enhancing opportunities. I will always be grateful to the
members of the President's Club who helped the program sustain itself
for over 20 years and build a $750,000 endowment, of which Vartkess
and I were honored to contribute personally $150,000. I am happy to
see that our alumni have helped rejuvenate AGBU and become the
backbone of the program, as mentors and donors. It is time for the
alumni to now take on the role that the President's Club had played
for so many years by raising the funds needed to maintain the

As the evening unfolded, AGBU President Berge Setrakian took the
opportunity to share his vision of an even brighter future for NYSIP -
one that depends on an active alumni base. Appealing to the program's
recent interns, he urged, `You have reaped the many benefits of this
unique initiative, and future generations of NYSIP participants will
turn to you for support as they pursue their own aspirations. It is
your responsibility, your duty, to fill a void by rising to leadership
positions in top institutions around the world. The future of NYSIP,
and AGBU as a whole, lies in your capable hands, and I look forward to
watching your ideas manifest.' Mr. Setrakian also acknowledged the
great memory of Mr. Balian, whose legacy will always remain strong.

Early in the night, guests learned about NYSIP's recent efforts to
broaden its reach through a newly unveiled website, regular
newsletters, alumni engagement activities, and an alumni
directory. Yet, the greatest reveal came as the evening drew to a
close, when the total amount of funds raised to benefit NYSIP was
announced: an extraordinary $100,000. As Sarkis Jebejian, NYSIP
Co-Chair, commented, `The success of the Internship Programs would not
be possible without the financial investment by AGBU. The tremendous
support we received from friends and alumni in the weeks leading up to
the anniversary weekend was incredible. We hope this celebration is
the start of a tight-knit network of alumni engaged in community life
and ready to give back to the Internship Programs.' The funds will be
allocated to providing financial assistance for high-achieving
students accepted to NYSIP, ensuring that the program will continue to
thrive over the next quarter century and beyond.

The AGBU NYSIP 25th Anniversary celebrations were organized by the
Event Planning Committee, which included: William Albrecht, Raffi
Aynilian, Robin Barone, Ella Baroyan, Nicholas Burdman, Stephanie
Dolik, Alexis Halejian, Michael Hovsepian, Serge Kassardjian
(Chairperson), Arpiné Kocharian, Vadim Krisyan, Melania Melikian,
Ani Minassian, Alex Nalbandian, Amy Parks and Tania Voskertchian, in
collaboration with Ani Manoukian.

To learn more about AGBU's Internship Program, please visit:

Established in 1906, AGBU ( is the world's largest
non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU
preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through
educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the
lives of some 400,000 Armenians around the world.

For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please