CENTURY CITY, Calif.– A record breaking more than 1,400 elected officials, supporters, activists, and generous donors from throughout the country attended the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s sold out annual gala on Sunday, October 25, 2015 at the iconic Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel in celebration of the organization’s unprecedented year of accomplishments and to pay tribute to 5 honorees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in advancing the Armenian Cause.
The event began at 4:30 p.m. with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and a VIP reception with major donors and elected officials. A three-course dinner followed at 6:00 p.m. with a powerful program and presentation of awards kicked off by the presentation of flags by the United States Color Guard and national anthems performed by Payla Kevorkian accompanied on piano by Alex Berberian.
Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian conducted the invocation for the evening.
As the crowd took their seats, Maria Cozette, accompanied by students from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian school dressed as angels holding candles took stage for a moving rendition of “We Are the World” as images from the time of the Genocide and the orphans rescued by the Near East Relief alternated on screen in the background.
Following the performance, 2015 ANCA-WR Board Treasurer and Gala Committee Chair Steve Artinian welcomed guests, thanked all those that made the record breaking evening possible and introduced the 2015 Gala and Grassroots Conference sponsors Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian, and in describing their unwavering support for the Cause noted, “They do it with grace, humility and integrity. They consistently give and often go beyond every reasonable expectation. They support every good cause and in return all they expect are results, and results the ANCA delivers.”
Artinian concluded his remarks stating, “We hope you will leave tonight inspired, motivated and more committed to serve the Armenian Cause.”
As the room went dark, on-screen came an emotionally charged video presentation showcasing the astounding accomplishments of communities worldwide as each marked the Armenian Genocide Centennial. Video highlights included Pope Francis’ speech at the Vatican mass, the historic March for Justice which witnessed the participation of over 166,000 individuals who took to the streets of Los Angeles, as well as many global leaders and celebrities who echoed the call for recognition and proper commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
At the end of the video presentation, ANCA WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq., stood in the spotlight to deliver the organization’s message. Hovsepian opened her remarks by thanking all the guests, the Gala Chair Steve Artinian, and his stellar team of committee volunteers, as well as staff for their dedicated leadership, vision, and skill. She went on to express gratitude to the elected officials, past and present, who’ve stood strong on the side of justice and the generous donors whose contributions allow the organization to continue and expand its work.
Hovsepian then moved to provide attendees with details of the organization’s expansion efforts in 2015, which included a tour of the region that resulted in numerous new local chapters in places like Colorado, New Mexico, Dallas, Seattle, and Oregon, the expansion of its Hye Votes initiative, as well as the unprecedented CA Advocacy Days, which galvanized over 700 participants from across the state, amongst many others.
She concluded her remarks calling on all attendees to march on forward in pursuit of justice. Her call to action echoed across the room as she said, “Just as 166,000 of us reignited the flame on April 24th, so we must continue. From our donors to our volunteers, from our voters to our educators, from our elected officials to our grassroots, we all have a role to play in harvesting our capital, promoting our vision, and taking the Armenian Cause to new heights of success. So roll up your sleeves, open your hearts and your wallets, volunteer your time and expertise, stay active, and join us on this incredibly fulfilling journey as we honor our martyrs, demand accountability, protect Armenia and Artsakh, organize our communities, and enter the second century of our Nation’s rebirth with optimism, hope, pride and determination for both the Homeland and the Diaspora. The March for Justice was not an end, but a beginning. The seeds have been planted, so onward we go.”