August 25, 2009
Armenian Volunteer Corps Announces New Executive Director
YEREVAN, Armenia -- The Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) announced this week that Worcester, Massachusetts (USA) native Sharistan Melkonian has joined the organization as Executive Director to head up its Yerevan-based office.
The announcement comes as the AVC, the largest volunteer program sponsored by Birthright Armenia, is preparing to embark on its tenth year of bringing diasporan Armenians to Armenia. AVC Board of Directors member Alex Sardar describes Melkonian as “an energetic and experienced leader who will bring vision and continued passion to our operations. Shari has decades of experience in the trenches of the Armenian American community, in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston and she is certain to lead with great vigor a pan-national effort focused on maximizing the indispensable human resources of the Armenian nation.”
Melkonian will be managing the organization’s operations from Yerevan, working with local organizations, companies, and governmental branches to establish new areas for volunteer job placements and internship programs, as well as enhancing an already active connection between Armenia and the Diaspora. She is also charged with establishing the groundwork for the future growth of the Armenian Volunteer Corps, including continued expansion of the organization outside Yerevan to the more rural areas of Armenia. “I look forward to building on the vision of founders Der Hovnan [formerly Jason] Demerjian, Tamar Hajian and Tom Samuelian,” said Melkonian. “I appreciate the magnitude of the work ahead. Armenia is a very different country than it was a decade ago, with transforming development and successes, but also ongoing and new challenges. At the same time, I am energized because I have the opportunity to work in concert with incredible volunteers, a dedicated staff, hundreds of alumni, and the potential wealth of possibilities created when the Diaspora and Armenia are bridged.”Born in Massachusetts, Melkonian has been a well-respected leader in the Armenian American community for decades. In her volunteer roles she has served on the Central Executive of the Armenian Youth Federation of the Western United States, the Armenian Relief Society’s United Nations NGO steering committee, board of directors and education council member of the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School, and as chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of American Eastern United States.
Melkonian has an undergraduate degree from Worcester State College and a Master’s degree in Comparative and International Education from Columbia University. Prior to her coming to Armenia she worked for eight years as Legislative Director of YouthBuild USA.
Melkonian is joined in Armenia by her husband Ivan Ardhaldjian and their son Ardavasd.