GLENDALE—The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA held its first Leadership Development Series Seminar of 2020. Invited to this unique event geared toward empowering the existing and up-and-coming leadership were ARS chapter executives, members, and various ARS regional and committee members, as well as members of other organizations based in Southern California. Also in attendance were current and former Central Executive members, including ARS Central Executive Chairperson Dr. Nyree Derderian. The seminar was held on Saturday, January 25, at New York Life’s conference center.
Greeted by the tunes of classical Armenian music as they checked in, attendees received an ARS branded swag bag, t-shirt, seminar folder, and an “I am ARS” card to use in photos as they entered the seminar venue.
The program opened with a music video and vintage footage of the ARS at its start 110 years ago. ARS Regional Executive Board member Anita Altounian welcomed the attendees and introduced Steve Artinian as the seminar’s main presenter. Artinian is currently Vice President of Marketing for a national company with locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The first topic was about leadership, different styles, and differences between effective and ineffective leadership. Topics presented throughout the day included: team building, public relations, social media, fundraising, estate planning, planned giving, grants, marketing, and event planning.
Additional presenters at the seminar included: Krestina Torossian (Public Relations and Social Media), Christina Malyan, Esq. (Estate Planning and Planned Giving) and Suren Seropian (Grants).
As the ARS enters its 110th year, some of the discussion during the seminar focused on effective ways of attracting the next generation to get more involved and help shape the future. “We must involve our next generation, while we stay true to our identity and who we are. We must do all that we can to let our lifelong members lead, while we work towards increasing our reach,” remarked ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Silva Poladian.
Two of the presenters, Torossian and Malyan, were young American-born professionals who do not have backgrounds in organizational work – a part of the “next generation” that the ARS is hoping to attract as members. Both women expressed their appreciation for the warm welcome they received.
The organizers surprised the audience with a number of raffles throughout the day, which were announced as guests returned from the seminar breaks. Emily Samvalian and Sarelle Janoian assisted with both the raffles and the audio and video used throughout the event. Halfway through the seminar, Samvalian and Janoian announced to attendees, in Armenian and in English, that they were going to become future “Homouhies” – future ARS members.
Following the presentations, attendees were asked to participate in a breakout session. The nine groups were given different topics to analyze and discuss, after which they presented their findings to the entire group. The topics included fundraising, community outreach and programs, perception of ARS, chapters and membership base, and the ARS in future decades – 2020, 2030, and 2040. Based on the reports, the general thinking was that the ARS and its membership should embrace growth, contemporary methods, and inclusiveness.
In closing, ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Silva Poladian thanked the presenters, the public relations committee members, the volunteers that helped organize the event, and the attendees. The presenters were given Certificates of Appreciation for their vision and support in helping make the event a success.