AIWA 2022-2023 Board of Directors Election Results

May 18, 2022

It is with great pleasure that Armenian International Women’s Association announces the election results of the 2022-2023 Board of Directors.

The Board comprises of 12 members, each member running for a term of two years. Although the By-Laws do not limit the number of terms members of the Board can serve, they must run for office again after a two-year tenure. 

This year, six seats were open with three incumbents and 3 members stepping down.

The three long time serving members of the Board of Directors who stepped down from their titled positions to open doors for others are Founding Member Barbara Merguerian, Past President, Ani Kharajian, and Treasurer and Vice President Carolyn Atinizian.

At the Annual meeting, a tribute to each was made with gratitude for their YEARS of service.

Barbara Mergeurian is AIWA. She is a standing pillar that grounds us. Barbara, along with Eva Medzorian and Olga Proudian (God rest her soul) founded AIWA, organized her (AIWA) with a team of powerful women such as themselves, guided her, made her open, inclusive and democratic.  Together, they planted hundreds of seeds of ideas, aspirations, motivations and actions to bloom. Barbara’s presence on the Board is constant.  She inspires with her knowledge and pushes to achieve with her support and encouragement. Her place at AIWA remains Emeritus as a lifetime founding member. And it is our hope and desire that she continue to serve AIWA as an Honorary Emeritus Advisor. We thank her for the legacy she has created, and we pledge to continue the mission of this unique organization with her same passion and purpose.

When Ani Kharajian took the role of President of the Board of Directors six years ago, little did we know how much of a difference her leadership would make toward AIWA’s organization. Her commitment to Brand, Organization, and Leadership set the road map which continues to unfold — from vision and goals to strategy and execution. Ani raised the bar with her professionalism and promoted collaboration and teamwork with grace and dignity. A debt of gratitude is owed to Ani for guiding AIWA along with her many years of service invested in the mission, vision and values of AIWA which started alongside her dear mother Arpine in whose name a Scholarship fund is now established. We know for sure that Ani’s resourcefulness will be called upon to oversee AIWA’s outreaching efforts.

Although Carolyn Atinizian Yardemian is in the legal profession, she has been active in almost every aspect of AIWA throughout her time on the board.  Her ability to target funds, balance budgets, edit scripts, point out discrepancies, manage distributions, co-chair galas and conferences, pay attention to the smallest of details, donate time and money, give and consult legal advice and raise a family is a rare find.  With clear standards and values, she is a treasured asset to the team and organization. Carolyn has been a hands-on prized contributor to AIWA, a powerhouse with eyes on everything, and it will be difficult to wean ourselves from calling her for advice, opinion and solutions. We hope we will see her return to the Board very soon.

The Board comprises of 12 members, each member running for a term of two years. Although the By-Laws do not limit the number of terms members of the Board can serve, they must run for office again after a two-year tenure. 

This year, six seats were open with three incumbents and 3 members stepping down.

Twelve members of the Board serving the 2022-2023 year are in alphabetical order:

  • Emma Arakelyan
  • Zela Astarjian
  • Milka Bedikian
  • Diane Cabraloff*
  • Tamar Chamassian
  • Lenna Hovanessian
  • Zara Ingilizian
  • Silva Katchiguian
  • Victoria Kharajian
  • Arsine Phillips*
  • Christine Soussa*
  • Alice Petrossian

to the following who have been elected to serve.

Emma is a world-class management consulting executive, angel investor, author, speaker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, coach and professor. She is the Co-founding Partner of New York based startups funding and growth BAJ Accelerator ( She is the CEO and Founder for Orion Worldwide Innovations, LLC offering IP Management & Acquisition solutions to the innovators and investors market globally. Emma operates her multimedia company Open Mind Productions, LLC.

Emma brings more than 20 years of experience in leadership across business strategy, IT Architecture & Transformation, M&A, governance and compliance credentialed by global professional services and technology companies as a Partner at EY (Ernst & Young) and Managing Director at Accenture. She serves on boards of director and strategic advisor to multiple startups, cultural organizations and educational programs. 

Emma published her book on leadership and how to navigate, succeed and make an impact in the world of international business: “The Business Caring Formula. Building Your New Leadership Lifestyle.”

Emma earned a Master’s Degree in Political Economy from Academy of Sciences, Armenia and a Bachelor of Sciences in Economics from the Armenian State University of Economics.

Fluent in English, Armenian and Russian. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Diane has been an active leader and volunteer in the Los Angeles Armenian community.    

Diane currently serves on the Board of Directors of Armenian International Women’s Association and Treasurer of AIWA’s Los Angeles affiliate. Her involvement with AIWA has spanned over 25 years in various roles and she looks forward to helping the organization continue its mission to connect and elevate Armenian women globally. 

Diane is also an active member of the following Organizations:  Armenian Missionary Association of America, Orphan Care Fund, Armenian Educational Foundation, Armenian Assembly of America, USC Institute of Armenian Studies, Armenian Holy Cross Cathedral, and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church.

Diane graduated from UCLA with a degree in Economics.  Diane also has a distinguished career as a Certified Public Accountant, with her offices in Pasadena, CA.  Diane’s practice specializes in Trust and Estate Planning, and Tax Accounting.  Diane is married to Albert Cabraloff and they have two children and two grandchildren.

Tamar Chamassian is the Founder and Chief Strategist at 2BSEEN Marketing, a boutique marketing agency working on strategy and execution for innovative companies, with a soft spot for socially impactful ones. Startup advisory board member, founding team member, advisor and mentor. Previously, VP of Marketing and Client Services at a global financial institution, leading the marketing and client relations teams.

Chair of AIWA New England Affiliate with extensive experience working with AIWA’s Central Board on overall marketing strategy, creating and hosting virtual programming in 2020 and later working on communicating AIWA’s contribution to the war in Armenia.

Tamar is a member of AGBU New England Committee for the Global Leadership Program. Previously, American University of Beirut (AUB) New England Chapter board member.

Lenna V. Hovanessian, Esq. is an attorney, community leader, activist and advocate for human rights and Armenian issues in the local, state and federal political arenas in Nevada. As ANCA (Armenian National Committee of America) Nevada Co-Chair coupled with her legal expertise, she has cultivated deep roots into the political landscape. Most recently in the 2021 legislative session, she co-drafted, lobbied and garnered overwhelming support and votes to pass a bill for Holocaust and Armenian Genocide Education mandated in Nevada public high schools. She is experienced in navigating government policy, crafting legislation and lobbying for support on human rights issues. 

Mrs. Hovanessian has served as MC, main speaker and organizer at Armenian Genocide and human rights commemorations for the Armenian community of Las Vegas since 2015, garnered multi-layered political support on important federal bills, organized demonstrations, vigils, recognition and media coverage to highlight the human rights and humanitarian issues of concern to the Armenian community. 

Lenna is a 1999 graduate of Southwestern University School of Law and an alumna of UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. 

She is married to Dr. Armen Hovanessian, a neuro-radiologist, is a proud mother to two teenage children in high school, Raffi and Athena Hovanessian, and two dogs. She enjoys reading, art, theater, debate, traveling, fitness, family and connecting with the community. 

Arsine graduated from UCLA in 1983 with a BA in Economics and from University of Southern California (USC) Law School in 1986.  Since graduation, she has been practicing business litigation with the Law firm of Parker, Milliken for over 30 years and currently is also managing commercial and residential real estate. 

Arsine has been involved in the Armenian community for many years helping organize charitable events and serving on the board of several organizations, including AMAA, AIWA, AIWA LA and USC Armenian Studies Institute. She also serves on the Board of Councilors for USC Gould School of Law.  She enjoys supporting various Armenian causes and serving the community.   

Christine Soussa believes that leaders should drive innovation and inspiration. With over 20+ years’ experience, she uses her passion for people and enthusiasm for technology to identify and leverage opportunities with her customers, teams, and organizations.  As technology continues to rewrite the business playbook, she focuses on digital transformation, strategy, global sales, strategic alliances and partnerships, and GTM.  

Currently, a Global Client Director at Equinix, the world’s leading digital infrastructure company, she helps F-500 and G-100 enterprises define and execute their digital infrastructure and cloud strategies. She identifies, leads, and helps launch joint product integration and GTM offerings. Her passion for excellence, curious entrepreneurial nature, and “limitless mindset” results in exceptional business outcomes and authentic relationships. 

Prior to Equinix, she held Senior Sales and Strategy positions at Symantec, VeriSign, and The Walt Disney Company.  Throughout her tenure at various organizations, she has been awarded President’s Club multiple times.  In 2020, she was promoted to the position of Global Client Director, with a vision to  help organizations grow and scale to the next level(s).  

As a community leader, philanthropist and advocate, Christine is a Lifetime member of the AMAA and has been sponsoring multiple children for decades. She served as Chair of AIWA-SF from 2011-2018 where she helped grow the affiliate through many initiatives and programs. She is also an AUA Changemaker and has several named scholarships. 

Christine holds degrees in Political Science and English with emphasis in International Relations and Writing/Rhetoric, from Pepperdine University. Christine is a demonstrated effective leader and mentor who helps individuals and organizations thrive.