Belmont, Massachusetts was the meeting location of the 62nd Assembly for The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) on Saturday, May 14th. The ceremony featured the induction of five new board members: Edward Avedisian, Nancy Kricorian, George Aghjayan, Jirair Balayan, and Dr. Bedross Der Matossian. All newly appointed officials are outstandingly accomplished in the fields such as genealogy, writing, and engineering. A new board leader (Yervant Chekijian) also replaced the former chairman of six years Raffi Yeghiayan, who will continue to advise the NAASR.
Rouben Shougarian, the first Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. (1993-1999), shared insights before the start of the Board elections in his speech "Building a New Generation of Armenian Leaders through the Tavitian Scholarship Program at the Fletcher School". He highlighted the importance of developing cooperation among the NAASR. His audience included all of the current Armenian Tavitian scholars as well as former NAASR member Olya Yordanyan. Additionally, Shougarian spoke about a handful of recent crises Armenia has been forced to endure, and how its responses coupled with the skill of its scholars provide an oasis of hope. This hope is also realized through the continuation of Armenian publication, education, and research by the NAASR. Current Board members (Dr. Geri Lyn Ajemian, Adi Ignatius, Bertha Mugurdichian, and Dr. James Russell) were also given sincere gratitude for their ongoing service and dedication to excellence in their respective fields. The new additions to the board are equally distinguished and qualified.
Edward Avedisian is a renowned philanthropist and musician. He regularly works with schools worldwide; including the American University of Armenia, the Armenian Missionary Association of America, and the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian K-12 School. Serge Sarkisian, Armenia's President, has awarded Avedisian the Movses Khorentasi Medal twice, in recognition of his influence on education, literature, arts, and culture.
Nancy Kricorian has been an activist, poet, novelist and member of the NAASR for quite some time. Her most notable works include "Zabelle, Dreams of Bread and Fire", as well as "All the Light There Was". She is a former professor of Barnard Colleges, Columbia, and Yale. Kricorian also serves as a chief officer of the Armenia Tree Project.
George Aghjayan is an active member of the NAASR and recently helped to organize the 2016 Armenian Genealogy Conference. He now serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church of Worcester. His research resume is extensive and includes work on Armenian demographics in the Ottoman Empire.
In addition to working as a Senior Nuclear Engineer, Jirair Balayan has been an active member of the NAASR for several years. His contributions to education at the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators in Framingham, Massachusetts have been observed for the last decade, where he has worked as a volunteer school teacher.
Finally, Dr. Bedross Der Matossian holds the title of associate professor of History at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln. His educational background includes graduation from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from Columbia University where he earned a Ph.D. in Middle East History. Also, his work as an author landed him the NAASR's Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies.