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2020 Reflections – Year in Review

The year 2020 has highlighted the importance and strength of our sisterhood and of our community. The global Covid pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives and later added to it a devastating and unexpected war in Armenia. For many, 2020 has been devastating and we will continue to support those in dire situations. As we reflect on the extraordinary events of this year, it is clear that we are living during a time unlike any other in our history. It’s clear that NO MATTER,  when unexpected things come our way we unite.  

We wanted to share some highlights from this year and communicate what our aspirational plans are for 2021 and how you can be a part of them. 

We showed up…. VIRTUALLY

We continued to host a variety of events, to bring our community together. Recordings of them can be seen https://aiwainternational.org/past-events/). Our reach expanded to members and non-members worldwide.  They included: 

  • AIWA-SF Thrive- Featured Armenians globally throughout the month of April (see blog: https://aiwasanfrancisco.com/
  • April: Coffee and conversations with Christine Soussa
  • April: Stress Management with Dr. Viktoria Ter-Nikoghosyan
  • April: Covid and education (jointly with Central) with our own Dr. Mary Papazian, Dr. Ani Shabazian, Sevana Panosian 
  • May: Working Mom with Lilit Yenokyan and Christine Soussa
  • October: Candid conversations and the Women’s Support Shelter with Maro Matosian and Lusine Yeghiazarian
  • October: HDIF Homeland: Preserving Securing, Nurturing and Empowering hosted by Laura Dirtadian
  • October: Instant Focus: 3 Steps to Get More Done, Anytime (even when stressed) with Dr. Viktoria Ter-Nikoghosyan- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ysoRQ-B7Ng&t=59s
  • December: Instagram Live Event on 12/4 in partnership with One Armenia.  Discussions with leaders, artists, comedians, doctors, and change makers. All funds raised will go to Artsakh relief efforts. They were hosted in two phases and recordings can be seen 
  • December: AIWA Shopping event with Miray collections with 25% of proceeds will go to AIWA toward Artsakh relief efforts. Shop: www.miraycollections.com use code AIWASF
  • Featured Armenian Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs (see blog: https://aiwasanfrancisco.com/)

We came together…. Project and Initiatives Updates:

Along with the pandemic, we experienced centuries old history repeat itself. Since 2018 the tiny country of Armenia has experienced critical realities from the Velvet Revolution to the current post-war realities. Our commitment and the importance of AIWA is tremendous and throughout 2020 we continued to fund and expand our support in the following areas: 

  • AIWA-SF AUA scholarship was fully funded and all scholars placed in an Internship at GOALS – 6 female students total – Elen Gabrielyan, Mary Balasanyan, Vanesa Grigoryan, Diana Shahverdyan, Shushan Grigoryan, Lilit Ghandilyan 
    • GOALS is the only organization in Armenia dedicated to developing and supporting soccer leagues and impact programs for young women in rural communities
  • Working with Mer Hooys to provide English and Computer classes to young girls 
  • AIWA – SF and 3 personal donors contributed $25,000 to Women Support Center (WSC) to help fund purchase of third safe house, which has also helped house displaced women and children from Artsakh
  • $5,000 sent to AIWA Central to sent immediate funds to the WSC to help with humanitarian aid resulting from War Crisis in Artsakh
  • Sent funds to AIWA Central to support HDIF, a social enterprise that creates sustainable jobs to Armenian women by producing and selling their handcrafts. Our support went to provide warm clothing and food to displaced families. 

We also have had an advancement in leadership.  In November of 2020, Christine Soussa, the 2nd President of the Armenian International Women’s Association – San Francisco (AIWA-SF) affiliate, was nominated and appointed to the AIWA Global Board of Directors.  As such, Laura Dirtadian has been elected President and Lilit Yenokyan as Vice President of the dynamic affiliate. Please see announcement post here: https://aiwasanfrancisco.com/2020/12/01/aiwa-sf-announcement-leadership-advancement/

Our executive leadership team include: 

  • Laura Dirtadian, President/Treasurer
  • Lilit Yenokyan, VP 
  • Anna Masis, Secretary
  • Dr. Viktoria Ter-Nikoghosyan, Special Projects
  • Nellie Azizian
  • Christine Soussa
  • Gaiane Khachatrian
  • Suzanna Khatchatrian
  • Lusine Yeghiazaryan
  • Rachel Nersesian
  • Dr. Ani Taijian

As for 2021, under the new leadership team, the five pillars of focus will be to 

1. Support AIWA Central’s Mission, including leading a digital transformation initiative

2. Armenia and Artsakh post-war recovery efforts

4. Engage, connect, and grow our Bay Area AIWA Community, which will include safe and outdoor events such as hikes and continue with virtual events early throughout the year

5. Women in STEAM, where we will lead and host events such as a virtual summit sometime in the summer

And in hopes of a vaccine in 2022, host a gala to celebrate our 10th anniversary in the re-establishment of the AIWA-SF chapter. 

The best way to keep up to date on AIWA San Francisco’s community events, projects, and news is to follow us on social media. Here are a few resources to connect with AIWA San Francisco:

On behalf of AIWA-SF, we would like to thank you for your support and send you and your families well wishes.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and are looking forward to the year to come! 

You can get in touch with us anytime at aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com. We hope to see you soon at one of our upcoming events this year.

Sirov, 

Laura Dirtadian 

AIWA-SF Affiliate, President

Christine Soussa

Outgoing AIWA-SF President and Incoming AIWA Global Board Member

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