One of the primary reasons why the Armenian Diaspora has been successful in maintaining its identity, is the democratic structure of all major faith-based and community-based organizations.
Almost all major organizations have been governed by voting members. In the process, several membership-based Armenian organizations achieved unprecedented success in carrying out their individual missions.
However, during the last couple decades, a number of healthy, membership-based organizations were cannibalized from within. They were systematically targeted for corporate-like takeover by certain insiders.
1998: WHAT HAPPENED TO AGBU
In 1998, Armenian General Benevolent Union’s (AGBU’s) control transferred from thousands of dues-paying members to a small elite group. Now, AGBU’s general direction, as well as $500 millions of assets, are no longer supervised by voting members who used to be in the thousands. They don’t exist anymore. They are eliminated.
2014: WHAT HAPPENED TO ARSHAG DICKRANIAN ARMENIAN SCHOOL
In 2014, unjustified closure of Arshag Dickranian Armenian School and disappearance of $15.5 million of assets occurred.
Prior to its closure, Arshag Dickranian Armenian School’s parent organization Tekeyan Cultural Association was taken over by a small faction led by Edmond Azadian.
2020: WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO ARARAT HOME
OF LOS ANGELES, INC.
Now, in 2020, Ararat Home of Los Angeles, Inc. is being targeted for corporate-like takeover by small group of Ararat Home Trustees and can be subjected to AGBU’s fate of 1998.
Many members of ARARAT HOME are sounding the alarm: “On March 29,2020, hundreds of dues-paying, voting members can lose their VOICE if they don’t come to the meeting and VOTE NO on the proposed change to the by-laws. $100 million assets could be at risk. If the new amendment passes, We, The People will lose our voices!”
In order to SAVE ARARAT HOME from AGBU fate of 1998, a group of longtime members of The Home, formed a committee to oppose the proposed amendment that will eliminate the voting rights of the dues-paying members.
Recently, the Committee’s Chairman Mr. Nazar H. Ashjian, Jr. explained why the committee members are unanimously opposed to such amendments to the By-Laws that at the upcoming March 29 annual meeting, “the Board of Trustees of the ARARAT HOME has put forward a proposal to amend the articles of incorporation and the by-laws. The purpose of this proposal is to eliminate the entire class of voting members. The members vote to elect trustees, amend provisions of the articles of incorporation, amend corporate by-laws among other tasks. The membership provides a check and balance to the Board of Trustees by exercising their right to vote. If the membership class is eliminated, a trustee will not be required to stand for election. The Board of Trustees will have free reign to appoint trustees.”
Nazar H. Ashjian, Jr., is a longtime CPA, a life member and former Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Ararat Home of Los Angeles, Inc. and Chairs the Committee of Ararat Home Members who oppose the proposed amendment to the articles of incorporation and the by-laws.
“The ARARAT HOME has a long and rich history of supporting the elderly in the Armenian community. For over 70 years, the ARARAT HOME has grown and prospered with the support of the Armenian community and has always maintained its independence and autonomy from any individual, religious, or political organization. The ARARAT HOME is and always will be a home for, not just a few, but for all elders –especially the needy elders in our community. … Remember, only members who are present at this meeting may vote. Come and vote NO so your voice can be heard,” underlines Mr. Ashjian.
Prior to its 1998 takeover, AGBU voting members used to control around $500 millions assets under a shield of transparency and accountability. Voting AGBU members used to mandate and commission each incoming AGBU Central Board to carry out the organization’s mission in providing Armenian education to Armenian youth in dispersion by maintaining a healthy network of Armenian schools and higher educational institutes throughout the Armenian Diaspora.
But a fateful voting occurred at the AGBU delegates meeting in 1998 in Los Angeles, through a quasi-involuntary, quasi-forceful passage of a motion on AGBU By-Laws eliminating the voting rights of all members.
The motion was proposed by AGBU autocrat Berge Setrakian and his main backers – the late Louise Manoogian Simone and Sinan Sinanian.
Ever since its takeover, AGBU has markedly deviated from its original mission of providing Armenian Education to Diasporan Armenian children and has been unilaterally shutting down Armenian schools throughout the Diaspora.
In late 2019, AGBU’s top leaders Sinan Sinanian, Berge Setrakian and others unilaterally decided to shut down AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena. There were no dues-paying and voting members around to stop the shuttering of the school. Sinanian is also a Trustee of Ararat Home along with Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Kanimian, Esq.
Why is ARARAT HOME being targeted?
Ararat Home was initially targeted by the primate of Western Diocese Arch. Hovnan Derderian. Derderian wanted The Home to invest nearly $15 million in a joint WESTERN DIOCESE project proposed by Derderian’s proxies on the Board of ARARAT HOME – the former WESTERN DIOCESE Diocesan Council Chairman and now Chairman of ARARAT HOME Joseph Kanimian, Esq. along with longtime WESTERN DIOCESE fixture Sinan Sinanian, general contractor of WESTERN DIOCESE St. Leon Cathedral and the general contractor for two recent buildings at ARARAT HOME while being an active member of ARARAT HOME. How can a person wear two hats – a trustee whose fiduciary duty is to pursue accountability of the contractor while being the contractor himself? A glaring conflict of interest!
Since Derderian and his proxies couldn’t get the $15 million, now, they have come up with a ‘brilliant’ scheme to not only get the $15 million but gain control over the entire organization and its $100 million in real and financial assets, it seems.
As one may notice, Derderian, Setrakian, Azadian, Kanimian, Sinanian seem to be all part of the same circle, and with the same mindset.
Is it possible that these people with same mindset that cannibalized AGBU, and TCA ARSHAG DIKRANIAN ARMENIAN SCHOOL can also cannibalize the jewel of American Armenian organizations – ARARAT HOME?
In order to avert the 1998 fate of AGBU, ARARAT HOME’s dues-paying members are rallying to maintain democracy and defend their voting rights by VOTING NO on March 29, 2020 at the general membership meeting.
They’re also appealing to the American Armenian community and media members to attend and monitor the general membership meeting and the voting process at ARARAT HOME — 15105 Mission Hills Rd, Mission Hills, CA 91345