BY PATTYL APOSHIAN KASPARIAN
Half past nine Thursday evening– after a full work day, a visit to the ANCA WR Open House and a restaurant’s soft opening, Mike Sarian looks slightly tired. As he pulls up a chair to join me and ANCA WR Annual Gala Banquet Committee Chair Arsho Beylerian for a post meeting “meeting”, he unbuttons his collar, loosens his tie and takes his suit jacket off as he sinks into his seat.
But he is far from worn out. Mike Sarian, President of Prime Healthcare Services has hospitals on his mind and even more charities to support.
“Thank you for joining me ladies. It’s been a long (deep breath) but productive day,” is the first thing he says as he eyeballs the wine list and rolls up his sleeves.
Michael Sarian has humbly offered to serve as the 2014 ANCA WR Gala Banquet Sponsor. Offered is not a fitting word—perhaps generously extended his support better describes his willingness to take on such a noble responsibility. Inspired by last year’s banquet, Sarian approached Advisory Board Member Harut Sassounian and asked how he too can contribute to the success of the ANCA WR.
“With a limited budget, you (the ANCA WR) produce incredible results,” said Sarian. “The banquet brings together activists, supporters, elected officials and policy makers from all over the Western Region to showcase the advancement of our Cause and the strength of our community.”
Sarian has more than 25 years of executive management experience in the healthcare arena which includes his current role as President of a nationwide hospital company with more than 30,000 employees and over 30 facilities spanning throughout eight states. Concurrently, he dedicates countless volunteer hours as an Executive Board Member of the California Hospital Association setting up healthcare policies and advocating on behalf of all California hospitals. He is also a Board Member of the Venice Family Clinic which helps poor and homeless patients and an active volunteer and supporter of the American Cancer Society and Armenian Bone Marrow Association. Just last year, he helped donate medical equipment in excess of $2 million to hospitals in Armenia.
“I believe in the Armenian Cause. We are right and we will succeed!” said Sarian. “This is how I’ve grown up. I want to stay active despite my heavy work schedule. We have to work smart now and keep our expectations high or else the future generations won’t even talk about it!”
When asked the simple question—“Why the ANCA WR?” Sarian replies. “You have an organization comprised of capable and passionate volunteers working for a just cause. I like the efficient way the organization runs and the resourceful, competent and professional volunteers and staff running it.”
Sarian is not only contributing financially, but using his contacts and resources to advance the efforts of the ANCA WR. As he modestly shares details about his career growth and contacts he’s made over the years, his phone vibrates. “Pardon me, ladies. I have to take this call. It’s ANCA related.” With 13% battery life, he exchanges short greetings and gets down to business. I don’t know who the caller is but from Sarian’s exchange and facial expressions, I deduce that the caller is a who’s who in politics. He conveys his message politely but forcefully—asking the caller to advance and support a pending federal resolution near and dear to his heart—the return of Armenian churches.
Out of curiosity I ask, “Did you always see yourself on the business side of medicine?” Mike smiles but remains silent. Half joking, half serious, I test the waters again. “Don’t tell me you aspired to be an astronaut in your early years!” Mike laughs a big, rooted, genuine laugh. Not loud but ample. “Actually, I’m scared of flying,” he confesses. “To answer your initial question, I vividly remember Secretary of State Henry Kissinger going around the world helping people and shaping international policy. So I guess I was leaning more towards politics and diplomacy in those days.”
Now, Sarian does it all—from motivating and leading management to securing investors to turning distressed hospitals into profitable ones to shaping health care reform to helping the Armenian Cause.
As the wine service continues, the questions advance. Sarian and Beylerian share stories dating back 20 years to school and church volunteer committees, business contacts and old friends. Without thinking, I pick up his iPhone when I spot a familiar icon. It’s not the typical Merrill Lynch, Wall Street Journal or Barron’s apps. It’s ABCs, Disney and Subway Surfer. “Who’s downloading these apps on your iPhone?” I ask with intense curiosity. Sarian smiles the widest smile I’ve seen all night as he pulls up a photograph of his 4-year-old daughter—a beautiful girl with sun-streaked golden locks and honey colored eyes. With a heavy heart, he reveals the tough years he’s endured with the loss of his wife of ten years, Souzan, to cancer. With the help of his mother and family, he is raising their daughter. He smiles again when he talks about Souzan and her accomplishments and achievements–from higher education to her career to her volunteer efforts with orphanages in Armenia and Canada.
The waiter pours the last of the wine and Sarian raises his glass for a toast—to family and friends, health and a successful ANCA WR Banquet!
The 2014 ANCA WR Annual Gala Banquet will be held on Sunday, November 2 at the world-famous Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Individuals interested in attending the Annual Gala Banquet are encouraged to purchase tickets online at www.ancawr.org/gala or call 818.533.8587. To obtain individual or corporate sponsorship information visit www.ancawr.org/gala/sponsorship or call 818.500.1919. For up to the minute updates on the event like the ANCA Western Region Facebook page or visit ancawr.org.
The ANCA WR Gala Banquet represents the single largest annual gathering of Armenian American public policy leaders throughout the western United States, and is attended by more than 1,000 prominent Members of Congress, state legislators and officials, community leaders, and many of the organization’s strongest activists and generous donors from California, Nevada, Arizona, and throughout the western United States.
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.