More than 100 community leaders, public officials, and supporters attended the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s reception on Thursday to bid farewell to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who will embark on a new career as U.S. Ambassador to India.
ANCA-WR Board Vice-Chair, Raffi Kassabian who served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, welcomed the guests and thanked them for joining the event to show appreciation to the Mayor for his distinguished leadership and service to Los Angeles and his long-standing friendship and solidarity with our Community.
Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Bishop Mikael Mouradian of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of North America, and Very Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America jointly conducted the invocation for the evening.
After a brief dinner break, Nina Hachigian, Deputy Mayor of International Affairs for the City of Los Angeles and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board took the stage. In her remarks, she thanked the Mayor for his leadership and support of the Armenian community and thanked him for his service. “When I first came to work for Mayor Garcetti, I thought this guy was more Armenian than I am. Those of you who have had the pleasure of hearing him speak at our marches, know that he does not leave anything on the table, he says exactly what he thinks and believes and is not afraid to fight for justice,” stated Hachigian.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian spoke about his friendship with the Mayor and remarked “Mayor Garcetti has stood for and fought for the values the Armenian-American community represents and the priorities it has, from his time as an LA City Councilmember to his position as Mayor.”
Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Ambassador Armen Baibourtian, who previously served as Ambassador to India, thanked Mayor Garcetti for being a great friend of Armenia and shared his first-hand knowledge about the small Armenian community of India, which is considered to be one of India’s oldest trading communities, urging him to visit the Armenian community in Kolkata and continue his friendship with Armenians during his new assignment.
Representing Congressmember Brad Sherman was his Field Representative, Taleen Keuroghlyan, who presented an American flag flown above the U.S. Capitol on the day of President Biden’s Inauguration as a token of gratitude. Then, City of Glendale Mayor Paula Devine, joined by Glendale City Councilmembers Ardashes Ardy Kassakhian, Ara Najarian, and Dan Brotman, jointly thanked Mayor Garcetti for being a great role model and presented him with a certificate of recognition.
ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. then took the stage to deliver the organization’s message. Hovsepian recalled how Mayor Garcetti made the beautification of Little Armenia one of his top priorities, visited Armenia with the ANCA-WR, established the Yerevan-Los Angeles Sister City, hired talented, trusted, and committed staff from the Armenian Community as part of his administration, welcomed high-level officials with open arms to City Hall from the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, spearheaded the cancellation of a huge lobbying contract between the City and the Gephardt Group, which was notorious for its pro-Turkey and anti-Armenian work, and marched alongside the Armenian Community each year during Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, even ensuring that the City incurred all the expenses on the occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide March for Justice in 2015.
“Eric Garcetti’s commitment to our community and to our Cause has been consistent, steadfast, reliable, and unwavering even in the face of intense political pressure from our enemies,” stated Hovsepian. “Mayor Garcetti has always listened to our concerns with a level of understanding and empathy that we don’t often find, encouraging our community to become more civically engaged, advocating for and securing Armenian language election ballots and materials to help accomplish that goal; helping to find much-needed funding for community services offered by the Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen, Armenian Youth Federation, Armenian Bone Marrow Registry, and many other worthy programs,” she continued.
Hovsepian then invited ANCA-WR Board members to join her in presenting a Dove of Peace sculpture made by Michael Aram, a token of appreciation and gratitude to Mayor Garcetti for his years of friendship and solidarity with the Armenian Community and Cause.
Accepting the award, Mayor Garcetti thanked the ANCA-WR for the evening and spoke about his long-standing relationship with the Armenian community. Garcetti specifically thanked all Armenian-American staffers who have worked with him over the years and his friends at the ANCA-Hollywood Chapter who have been working with him since his time as a Councilmember. He reminisced about his trip to Armenia with the ANCA-WR, and thanked those who “make sure that Mount Hollywood and Mount Ararat are forever linked together.” Staring at his Dove of Peace sculpture, he recalled the story of when he “visited Khor Virab, and in the shadow of Mount Ararat,” remembered that a dove came to tell humanity that the flood was over. “The dove reminds me that the Armenian nation has been a light in this world and is a testament that this nation cannot be destroyed,” he reflected. Mayor Garcetti also spoke about how he has had the privilege of hosting several elected officials from the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh, and mentioned how important it is “for the City of Los Angeles and the United States to always affirm its support and to exercise our power to defend the truth and our friends,” he continued. He added that “the Armenian community has built a glorious Diasporan community and makes this city magnificent.”
At the end of the ceremony, Anna Mouradian, Chief of Staff of Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s Office, presented a commendation certificate on behalf of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Throughout the night, pictures of Mayor Garcetti at community events and with Armenian community leaders were displayed on-screen.
Dignitaries and elected officials in attendance included LA Deputy Mayor Amb. Nina Hachigian, CA State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, and Kevin De Leon, City of Glendale Mayor Paula Devine, City of Glendale Councilmembers Ara Najarian, Ardashes Ardy Kassakhian, Vrej Agajanian, and Dan Brotman, City of Glendale City Manager Roubik Golanian, City of Glendale Police Chief Carl Povilaitis, Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court Hon. Michael R. Amerian, Los Angeles County Commission for Women President Alice Petrossian, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s Chief Deputy Anna Mouradian, LA Mayor’s Executive Assistant Lynnette Amerian, Councilmember Krekorian’s Chief of Staff Karo Torossian, Councilmember Koretz’s Director of Public Safety & Special Assignments Greg Martayan, CA Senator Anthony Portantino’s Communications Director Lerna Shirinian, and Former Mayor of Montebello Jack Hadjinian.
Representatives from the Executive Council of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, Executive Council of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, Armenian Cultural Foundation, Armenian Relief Society, Ararat Home, Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Armenian American Museum, Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Bar Association, and ANCA-Professional Network were also in attendance.
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.