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105th Anniversary of AGBU

AGBU Western District honors keynote speaker Dr. Armen Sarkissian during the Gala Banquet

105 Anniversary  of AGBU in LA105 Anniversary of AGBU in LA

Pasadena, CA – On the occasion of the 105th Anniversary of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Western District Committee of the AGBU hosted its annual Gala Banquet, on November 12th, 2011 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, CA.

AGBU President Berge Setrakian, Vice-President Sinan Sinanian, present members of the Central Board and Western District Committee, and distinguished guests, together with local AGBU members, leaders, donors and supporters, celebrated the 105th anniversary of the Armenian General Benevolent Union and its ongoing involvement in the local communities of California, and the rest of Western United States.

On this occasion, the AGBU Western District Committee honored the keynote speaker, former prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, Dr. Armen Sarkissian, for his exemplary and unique role in promoting the best interests of the Armenian nation and its rich cultural heritage throughout the world.

Dr. Sarkissian, a well-known philanthropist and influential civic leader, with vast business and political networks in major capitals around the world, is the founding President of Eurasia House International in London, which fosters critical dialogue and cooperation among political and business leaders. It is involved in bridge building between the West and the vast geographic space extending from Eastern Europe to Russia, to CIS and China. He is Director of the Eurasia Centre at the Judge Business School, at Cambridge University.

Armen Sarkissian has been involved with charitable works for many years. He has founded a number of charities, including Yerevan My Love Charitable Foundation, and the Armenian Arts Looys Charitable Trust.Yerevan My Love is a heritage-led project dedicated to preserving architecturally significant buildings in Yerevan and putting them to use to improve the life experience of disabled children, young people and disadvantaged families. Two major and very successful fundraising events were initiated and organised by Armen Sarkissian together with the Price of Wales, which were held at Windsor Castle in 2010 and Buckingham Place in 2011. The Armenian Arts Looys charity has helped young musicians in Armenia and Europe with scholarships, career development and exposure to international audiences. Dr. Sarkissian is the founder of the Eurasia Centre at the University of Cambridge, which among other programs, provides training and educational opportunities to young professionals, funded by Armenian and non-Armenian donors. He has sponsored and continues to support international arts projects–such as at the Tate Modern and the Royal Opera House, and social impact and educational programs, including schools, National Academy of Science of Armenia, the National Archives of Armenia and other institutions.

A few years ago, Armen Sarkissian sponsored the building of the St. Vartan Church baptistery in Holy Etchmiadzin and continues to sponsor various projects of the Mother See, including a children’s centre in Etchmiadzin. In December of this year, he was the initiator and host of the first-ever charity auction of Contemporary Armenian Art at Christie’s (London) one of the world’s best known auction houses. It brought together the works of some of the most brilliant contemporary artists in Armenia. The charity auction was for the benefit of a sanctuary and clinic for single mothers and disadvantaged children which will be housed in one of the reconstructed buildings of the Yerevan My Love project.

While very active in humanitarian and charitable projects, Dr. Sarkissian is the Chairman of the Global Council on Energy Security, World Economic Forum. He is a frequent speaker (since 2002) at the Annual forum in Davos, WEF regional meetings and Munich Security Conference.  He is a Member of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI) Commission, which is set up to devise an institutional design and a means of approach for fitting the United States, Europe, Russia, and the neighbouring states into a common security framework and for creating an effective common economic space. He has served as Special Advisor to the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and as a Governor of EBRD.

He is Vice Chairman of East West Institute and holds honorary and executive positions in numerous international organisations, including Member of Dean’s Advisory Board, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago; Board Member of IREX; International Economic Alliance; Global Leadership Foundation (headed by former President of South Africa F. W. De Klerk) and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary & Westfield College, London University; the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, National Competitiveness Council of Armenia, and others.

In 1997 His Holiness Pope John Paul II bestowed the St. Gregory the Great Award to Dr. Sarkissian.  In 2008 he received the highest honour in the Armenian Church, St. Gregory the Illuminator medal, from His Holiness Garegin II, Catholicos of All Armenians in Holy Etchmiadzin.

Dr. Sarkissian has advised CEOs and Corporate Boards of large global companies, including BP, Alcatel, Telefonica,Finmeccanica, Bekaerd, and others. He is senior advisor to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. His activities in the computer software industry include authorship of game software. He is one of the original authors of TETRIS-WORDTRIS group of computer games. He is one of the initiators of the Eurasian Media Forum, held annually in Kazakhstan. Established in 2002, this international Forum brings together hundreds of high level government officials, business executives, media leaders, journalists and experts.  He has also established another high power international annual conference (since 2003) at Cambridge University, which focuses on political, economic and business development issues in the Central Eurasian/Caspian region. He has authored numerous academic articles and publications on theoretical physics, astrophysics, computer modelling, political science and transition economics. He is a frequent speaker at conferences, seminars, and gatherings on issues, such as, leadership, political economy, security, geopolitics and other development in Eurasia.

Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 400,000 Armenians around the world.