BY ELISE KALFAYAN
The Armenian Missionary Association of America 104th Annual Meeting Banquet, celebrating Armenian Evangelical education, will be held at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront on October 21 with Gasia Mikaelian, KTVU Fox TV News Anchor, as emcee.
From its founding in 1918, the AMAA has prioritized education that fosters Armenian Christian identity as part of its mission. Hundreds of Armenian Evangelical elementary, secondary, higher education, boarding, and theology schools were founded and thrived in the decades before the Armenian Genocide, offering a high-quality education to all Armenians, and to girls and women for the first time. Armenian Evangelical leaders in the United States and abroad committed themselves through the work of the AMAA to rebuilding schools for their nation in the years after the Genocide.
With its faithful benefactors, the AMAA opened elementary and secondary schools in the Near East throughout the 20th century, established Haigazian College (now Haigazian University) in Beirut, Lebanon in 1955, opened the K-8 Charlotte & Elise Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School in Los Angeles, CA in 1982, and established kindergartens in Armenia and Artsakh following the nation’s independence. With visionary benefactor Edward Avedisian and his family, the AMAA built the state-of-the-art, private, tuition-free, K-12 Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School and Community Center, which opened in Yerevan in 1998. Several graduates of the Avedisian School have now gone on to higher education and service to their country in prominent leadership and service roles.
“Education is the foundation of Armenians’ spiritual, emotional and practical lives: we are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of institution builders, teachers, and learners as we carry AMAA’s work well into the future,” said Gasia Mikaelian.
Mikaelian is a news anchor at KTVU FOX 2 News in Oakland. She grew up in the Bay Area and is one of 4 children. She is grateful to her parents, who instilled in her a deep love for the Armenian language, culture, and (of course) food. Through her work at KTVU, Mikaelian has been able to highlight much of the good work that’s happening in and by the Armenian American community. She is proud to work for a station that values and supports diversity in its newsroom and the larger community.
Mikaelian has reported live on everything from the North Bay wildfires to the Super Bowl. Some of her most fulfilling work came during the height of the COVID pandemic, in a series exploring the pandemic’s effect on mental health. After graduating with a journalism degree from San Diego State University, she started her career as a reporter at KSWT in Yuma, Arizona. She then reported and anchored at WAFF in Huntsville, Alabama, XETV in San Diego and KPRC in Houston before returning to the Bay Area in 2005 to join KTVU as anchor.
Banquet Co-Chairs Roushig Kalebjian and Vana Khanjian Vartanian invited Mikaelian to emcee the Banquet, all sharing a commitment to education. “Growing up in an Armenian Evangelical household has played a significant role in shaping my educational journey. The emphasis on education and academic achievement, both within Evangelicalism and Armenian culture, created an environment that fostered and supported my passion for learning. As I reflect on my educational pursuits, I am grateful for the values instilled in me by my upbringing, and the positive impact they have had on my life,” said Kalebjian.
Vartanian’s sentiment is similar: “Having grown up in the Armenian Evangelical Church and community, I’ve seen and experienced first-hand how our educational initiatives have instilled strong moral and spiritual values.”
“Our Armenian Evangelical schools have educated generations of leaders who value Armenian culture and uphold our Christian faith,” said AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian. “I look forward to the AMAA’s 104th Annual Meeting Banquet at which we will honor Edward Avedisian posthumously and celebrate his beautiful vision realized in the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School, named in memory of his loving parents, and to joining our AMAA community in Celebrating Armenian Evangelical Education.”
For more information and to make your reservations, you may call AMAA headquarters at (201) 265-2607 or visit the AMAA website.
Founded in 1918, the Armenian Missionary Association of America serves the spiritual, educational, and social needs of Armenian communities in 24 countries around the world including Armenia and Artsakh.