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Dear AIWA Sisters, Members, Friends and Supporters,

It is with genuine regret and emotion that the Board of Directors announces that Jennifer C. Phillips, Executive Director of AIWA, has stepped down as of February 28, 2018. 
We respect, understand and appreciate the difficult decision she has had to make.To fill her shoes will not be an easy task, as we have come to depend on her ability to organize the Board’s vision with dynamic and invigorating resolve. We extend our deepest gratitude to Jennifer for going beyond her part-time role as Executive Director and giving her unwavering dedication to broaden and strengthen AIWA’s potential.

As the first ever Executive Director of AIWA, Jennifer played a critical role in celebrating AIWA’s 25th Anniversary Leadership Conference. She has been invaluable to AIWA’s development and future vision, establishing an interactive directory and website, engaging new and diversely talented members, and building up leadership. Her passion and genuine interest in strengthening the organization has been manifest in updating administrative procedures that connect affiliates and engage members to support shared initiatives. Above all, AIWA has gained in Jennifer a loyal friend.

The AIWA Board of Directors has formed a search committee tasked with conducting a national search for the next AIWA Executive Director. Due to the important task ahead of furthering and more actively fulfilling our mission, we are excited to announce that this position will become full time. We will share the job description in the coming weeks and will be asking for your help in identifying candidates who will assist AIWA to carry out its mission: To promote and enrich the social, economic and personal advancement of Armenian women worldwide through educational and other community activities that unite Armenian women, promote gender equity, and emphasize our Armenian cultural heritage. 

Once again, we are most thankful to Jennifer for the inspiration and value she has given AIWA. We applaud her work and the importance of her presence on the Board and to the mission of AIWA. She will remain a member of the AIWA team, an AIWA Sister. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we wish Jennifer all the best in her future endeavors. 

If you have any questions or concerns during this transition process, please do reach out to me You can also send general inquires to

Ani Kharajian
Board of Directors


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              

February 22, 2018    

For More Information:




The Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) decries the recent physical assaults upon two women who are members of the Yerevan City Council. On February 13, city councilor Marina Khachatryan, along with her colleague Sona Aghekyan, were attacked by fellow councilmen during the first session of the Yerevan City Council. The attack came just as the two women were trying to bring samples of sewage (in glass jars) from the Nubarashen district in Yerevan to underscore the negligence of the mayor and the city government in failing to address the longstanding problem of leaking sewage from the nearby prison. This has become an enormous health hazard for everyone living in the vicinity. 


This outrageous behavior comes just shortly after Armenia passed legislation that attempts to prevent and reduce the impact of domestic violence in the country.  This incident, along with prior cases of attacks on women protesters in various public settings, further exposes how public forums and political spaces in the country have frequently become unsafe places for women in Armenia. They reveal a systemic attempt to exclude women from public discourse and political decision-making.


This assault on elected female councilors was especially egregious, as the violence was committed by colleagues on the city council. Such violence against female activists must stop, as it corrodes the fragile democratic institutions in the country and intimidates women from entering politics. Violence as an instrument of political discourse is illegal and unethical. It is also profoundly unproductive, as it can silence free speech, innovation and initiative, thereby degrading governance and polarizing society.


It has been demonstrated that the empowerment of women is a necessary precondition for democratic progress, economic growth and sustainable security arrangements in conflict regions. Patronizing, intimidating and harming women – whether in the home or in a public space – is a direct assault on Armenia’s prospects for a successful future. To sustain the moral fabric of the country, it is essential that everyone – especially elected officials – respect the dignity of all women.


This recent display of violence further erodes public trust in Armenia's institutions and threatens the development of a still-young democracy struggling in an increasingly authoritarian region. The brave women council members who were bringing much-needed attention to a major public health and environmental crisis in a large Yerevan community should be praised and honored. Those who attacked them should be held accountable for their actions. Regardless of how offended they were by the jars of sewage, they had no right to resort to physical violence. We understand that a criminal investigation has been launched, and this process should be watched closely by the public. 


Most important, we all need to work together to change the cultural norms that promote and reward this kind of assault. Everyone – especially men and boys – need to explore how we can all become part of the solution to stop gender-based violence, whether it occurs in war, at home, on the streets, or at work. Fortunately, there are men around the world now changing the public discourse to include ideas about positive masculinity that would promote a safer and stronger world for everyone. A healthy society requires that we all respect human dignity, and this incident in Yerevan offers one more opportunity to raise our voices in calling for systemic change to create a culture that would never foster or condone this kind of violent behavior. 


The Armenian International Women’s Association was founded 26 years ago to connect, inspire and mentor Armenian women to embrace their power and value as advocates for social change and as leaders in society. As Armenian men and women throughout the world become more actively engaged citizens, AIWA will continue to support social, economic and educational policies and systems that bring equal representation to Armenian women and improve the quality of life for women and girls.


An Evening with Sibil

Sibil with kids at concert
BOSTON – The Armenian International Women's Association (AIWA) hosted the internationally acclaimed Armenian singer from Istabul, Sibil Pektorosoğlu, in her first New England appearance to a full house of cheering fans on Saturday, September 30. Sibil was joined on stage by Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston and Zangakner Performing Arts Ensemble; and local musicians, pianist and composer, Ara Sarkissian, flutist, Yulia Musayelyan and cellist, Andrew Blickenderfer.

Sibil’s angelic voice and emotional vocals filled the entire theatre and at the concert’s end, she received an enthusiastic standing ovation, with the crowd demanding an encore. Sibil met her enthralled audience after the show, posing for picutres and signing CDs for her fans.

“I was incredibly touched by the warm welcome I received in Boston,” shared an emotional Sibil.

One enthusiastic audience member gushed, “The show was awesome!! I had heard of Sibil and saw her video on YouTube, but never could I have imagined what an absolutely amazing concert she would give in person. Her voice is incredible and the band with her sounded great. We met her after the concert and were shocked at how personable and genuinely nice she was. The kids and Sayat Noval were a bonus. Brava to AIWA for a job beyond well done!”

Sibil’s concert benefited the work of AIWA, a global network dedicated to empowering Armenian women worldwide, which celebrated its 25th Anniversary last fall.  For more information about Sibil, visit

ABN-AIWA Spring Soiree
Recognizes $70,000 in Scholarships
to Armenian Women Students in 2017-2018

scholarship recipients and Harry Parsikian
From left, Ani Karamyan, Alexandra Missarian Brown, Arev Doursounian, (past scholarship recipients) with AIWA Champion, Harry Parsikian

The Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) – a global network dedicated to empowering Armenian women -- has bestowed almost $70,000 in scholarships to Armenian women students for the academic 2017-2018 year.

Scholars are studying in the United States and around the world thanks to an increasing scholarship program that has promoted over 200 students in the past 25 years.

“Our scholarships are often where we first intersect in the lives of Armenian women,” said Ani Kharajian, president of the AIWA Board of Directors. “Young women learn that we want to support their educational efforts and at the same time, other AIWA members and supporters see quite vividly how we start to empower young women as they begin their journey into adulthood.”

AIWA distributes scholarships through AIWA International – the umbrella organization – and through AIWA-Los Angeles and AIWA-San Francisco, two affiliates.

On Tuesday, June 20, three past scholarship recipients spoke at a networking event co-sponsored by AIWA and the Armenian Business Network (ABN).

“I loved that AIWA took a chance on me. They didn’t know me, but they believed in me. And it changed my life,” said Ani Karamyan, a scholarship recipient from Armenia who now lives and works in the Boston area.

“I thought that I would be quiet and not challenge things,” said Alexandra Missarian Brown, a two-time scholarship recipient. “I changed my mind when I saw a photo of my grandmother in the act of teaching. She was described as strong and formidable; a woman who loved what she did. AIWA helped me achieve my goals of teaching, which I now love. I feel like I’m honoring my grandmother.” Alexandra is studying for her PhD in Latin American Studies.

“I love the community of AIWA,” said Arev Doursounian, a recent scholarship recipient. “Through AIWA, I connected with women in AIWA-San Francisco during my internship last summer. I was able to talk about my future and find wonderful support. I can’t wait to give back as an AIWA member.”

The Armenian Business Network joined AIWA to support their work on behalf of women.

"We are honored and delighted to partner with AIWA on their work for women and developing our next generation Armenian women leaders. ABN promotes intellectual philanthropy and facilitates programs where accomplished individuals volunteer and share their know-how with other Armenians to see them succeed in their profession.
We look forward to our continued collaboration with AIWA and creating more opportunities that will benefit our members and community.” said Jack Antounian, ABN founder and president.

AIWA Scholarships are one of many initiatives to empower women. AIWA supports education, economic development and leadership initiatives, as well as educational programs that highlight the achievements and goals of Armenian women.

To see more photos from the ABN-AIWA Spring Soiree, please click HERE.


AIWA Scholarship Awards – 2017-2018


*Andreasyan, Lana, of Yerevan, entering her Junior year at the University of California, San Diego, with a major in Mathematics and Computer Science.

*Drewitz, Anna, East Northport, N.Y., entering her Senior year at the University of Buffalo with a major in Architecture.

*Fermanian, Rita Stephan, of Beirut, Lebanon, entering her Junior year at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon, with a major in Engineering.

Temizel, Sila, of Istanbul, continuing her first year in a PhD program in Engineering at Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas.


Meruzhanyan, Varya, of Yerevan, with an undergraduate degree from Brusov State University and an MS in International Organizations from the London School of Economics, entering a Master of Public Administration program at Harvard University.


Adamyan, Arpi, of Yerevan, graduate of the Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts, entering her first year of a Master of Fine Arts degree at Parsons School of Design, the New School, New York City.

*Ghannoun, Reena, of Aleppo, Syria, entering her senior year at Century College, White Bear Lake, Minn., working toward a BS in Pharmacy.

Harutyunyan, Gohar, of Abovyan, Armenia, with degrees from Artsakh State University and Columbia University, entering her third year in a PhD program in Management at Rutgers University.

Parnagian, Melissa, of Parlin, N.J., a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, entering her first year in a Master of Public Policy program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

*Saharyan, Meri, of Arteni, Armenia, entering her Senior year in Education at Georgia State University.


Tonoyan, Lilit, of Yerevan, graduate of Yerevan State University in Economics, entering her first year in an MA program in International Politics at the University of Sheffield, England.


Whitman, Elizabeth, of Brooklyn, N. Y., a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in History, entering a Master of Arts in Science, Environmental, and Medical Journalism at Columbia.


*Boloyan, Lucine, of Newton, Mass., entering her junior year at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, working for a BS degree in Psychology.

Dadaian, Anna, of Moscow, graduate of the University of Leeds, entering her first year as a PhD student at University College, London, majoring in German with an interest in the History and Philosophy of Jungian Psychology.

*Grigoryan, Sona, of St. Truiden, Belgium, entering her Senior year in a Bachelor of Interior Design program at Luka School of Arts, Brussels.

*Kupelian, Katya, of Closter, N.J., entering her Senior year at Montclair State University and working toward a BA in TV and Digital Media.

Martirosyan, Syuzeta, of Goght, Armenia, with an MBA from the American University of Armenia, entering an MA program in Specialized Economic Analysis and International Trade at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, Spain.

*Minassian, Rachael, of Cranston, R. I., entering her Junior Year at Providence College, studying Political Science.

Mikaelian, Alik, of Cairo, Egypt, graduate of the German University of Cairo, entering her first year in a Master of Collaborative Design and Research at Parsons School of Design, The New School, New York City

Sahakyan, Taguhi, of Stepanavan, Armenia, a graduate of Lore University in Stepanavan and the American University of Armenia, entering her first year towards a Master’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management from Virginia Tech University.

Torosyan, Taguhi, of Yerevan, a graduate of Yerevan State University in Oriental/Iranian Studies, entering her first year in a MA program in Media-Arts- Cultures sponsored by a consortium of universities beginning at Danube University, Krems, Austria.

*Vanian, Roza, of Moscow, entering her Senior year at the University of Cambridge, England, studying Law.


*Chamberlain, Kyra Nairi, of Soquel, Calif., entering her Junior year at George Washington University with a major in Psychology (BS)


Mkhitaryan, Armine, of Yerevan, with degrees in International Relations and Political Science from Yerevan State University and the American University of Armenia, entering her first year at Essex University, England, toward an MA degree in Sociology.



Two full tuition scholarships (at $2,500 each) awarded by the American University of Armenia.

- $5,000 each

(Awarded by the AIWA/LA Affiliate to California residents)

Armen, Taleene Marseille, a Junior at Loyola Marymount College, pursuing a major in Psychology with a minor in Student Arts.

Gevorkian, Monique, a Junior at Cal State Northridge University, majoring in Communication Studies.

Keshishian, Vana, graduate student, attending first year at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services, majoring in Pharmacy.

Marzayan, Lala, a Senior at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, majoring in Architecture.

Sargsyan, Suzanna Agvani, a graduate student, in her second year at the University of Southern California, majoring in Public Administration.

Sarkissian, Talin Khachatoor, graduate student in her second year at Marshall B. Ketchum University, majoring in Optometry.


Zabel Yessayan Writings Appear in
New Cambridge Literary Journal

Pangyrus , Editor Greg Harris, center, with (from left) Joy Renjilian-Burgy from AIWA, Ahna Wayne Aposhian from Pangyrus, Judy A. Saryan, and Danila Terpanjian, both from AIWA, at the June book reading at Porter Books.
Cambridge, Mass. – The new literary journal Pangyrus includes several pieces by the Armenian feminist writer Zabel Yessayan in its recently released third issue.

Originally published in 2015 as an online journal, Pangyrus appears in this third issue in hard copy as well as online.

The Yessayan pieces consist of a chapter titled “My Home,” from the Istanbul-born Armenian writer’s memoir, The Gardens of Silihdar; a few pages from the author’s eyewitness account of the aftermath of the 1909 Adana massacres, In the Ruins; and the chilling mystery story “The Man,” published in the collection titled My Soul in Exile and Other Writings.

The Yessayan material is reprinted from the three books of Yessayan’s writings translated into English and published by the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) as part of its series titled Treasury of Armenian Women’s Literature. Along with the excerpts, is a description of Zabel Yessayan’s life and literary significance and several photographs.

Almost forgotten until recently, Yessayan (1878-1943) was a leading figure in the literary renaissance that took place in Western Armenia in the late 19th and early 20th century. After receiving her primary education at the Holy Cross School in Istanbul, Yessayan became one of the first Ottoman women to study abroad when she went to Paris and enrolled in the Sorbonne. Her articles, essays, and books quickly established her reputation as a leading writer associated with progressive circles in Paris and in Istanbul.

Yessayan’s life reflected the tumultuous events that accompanied the fall of the Ottoman Empire, World War I, and its aftermath. The only woman on the list of Armenian intellectuals arrested and exiled in April 1915, she went into hiding and managed to escape to Bulgaria and, later, to the Caucasus, where she devoted herself to interviewing Armenian Genocide survivors and providing information to European (especially French) journalists about the condition of the Armenians.

Later Yessayan moved to Armenia, where she taught French literature at Yerevan State University and continued her writing. But soon she became a victim of the anti-intellectual policies of the Stalinist Armenian government, was arrested, and died in prison under unknown circumstances.

Editing and publication of the English-language translations of Zabel Yessayan’s works is carried on by AIWA’s Publications Committee: Judy Saryan, Barbara Merguerian Daniela Terpanjian, and Joy Renjilian-Burgy. Support was provided by the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Publication is part of AIWA’s mission to gather and distribute information about the history and current status of Armenian women.

Pangyrus is produced by a Boston-based group of writers, editors, and professionals who came together with a new vision to foster a community of creative individuals and organizations dedicated to art, ideas, and making culture thrive. Its aim is to publish well-crafted, thought-provoking writing and multimedia storytelling in every genre, including short stories, investigative reporting, reviews, essay and memoirs, flash fiction, poetry, journalism, short documentary film and visual arts.

Editor of Pangyrus is Greg Harris, who has taught writing at Harvard since 2003, and the staff includes Fiction Editor Anne Bernays, Poetry Editor Cheryl Clark Vermeulen, Comics Editor Dan Mazur, Managing Editor of the Print Edition Ahna Wayne Aposhian, and several others.
Further information is available from and