AIWA THRIVE shares the stories of individuals from around the world who are positively impacting our community as they lead with purpose.
Chief Executive Officer, GOALS Armenia
Today, we feature Teny Avakian, Chief Executive Officer, GOALS Armenia.
Teny Avakian was born in Tehran, Iran. At the age of 4, her family moved to Boston, MA. At the age of 13, her family repatriated to Armenia. She graduated from Yerevan State University with a B.A. in International Relations and Diplomacy. With her BA degree in hand, Teny continued her education first at the American Graduate School of International Relations in Paris, then at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. Teny repatriated to Armenia for the second time in 2010. She started her career in a corporate environment doing product development and marketing for telecommunications and IT companies. However, feeling unfulfilled she made the transition to non-profit work as Chief of Programs with Teach For Armenia. Currently, she is the CEO of a sports for social impact organization Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer (GOALS) and resides full-time in Armenia.
Q: What is your life philosophy?
“If you want to see the change, be the change.”
I believe in leading by example and more than ever today Armenia needs true leaders. 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone but even more so for Armenia. Although we have lived through some difficult times, the most valuable thing we gained was perspective. In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we often forget to take a step back and be thankful for everything that we have and have accomplished. War and an existential crisis will give you perspective. Leading a human-centered organization, we have always focused on the needs of our beneficiaries. It became apparent very quickly that the demographics and needs of our beneficiaries were evolving. As a result, as individuals and as an organization, we adapted an agile mindset and reimagined our programming to meet the demands of now thousands of displaced children and children suffering from PTSD. With the support of Dr. Gary and Linda Assarian GOALS was able to launch the Assarian Relief Initiative. The Assarian Relief Initiative seeks to support children who have been affected by the war and who suffer from PTSD. It will create safe spaces where children can have a sense of normalcy, develop their leadership skills and work on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Q: We called 2020 the year of the upheaval… what was your biggest upheaval, what did it teach you? What was your biggest awakening, what did it teach you?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s not to take anything for granted.
Q: What is your hope for the future?
What we invest today in our children is the Armenia and Artsakh we can anticipate tomorrow. It is not a choice, it is not a wish, it is an obligation. The beauty of being Armenian is that in times of crisis we come together and support one another, regardless of politics, social class, location. We are over 10 million strong and if we put our mind to something we can make it happen. Right now, is the time to invest in the future, and the future is our children.
Q: How has the Armenian culture shaped you?
Being Armenian is not just a nationality, it comes with responsibility and ownership. It is the responsibility of every Armenian to be the change.