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27 Dec, 2021

The Power of Giving: Young Diasporans Awarded for Leadership

3 min read

Press Release


YEREVAN, December 23­­­­­­- On December 20, 2020, after miraculously surviving 70 days in hiding from the Azerbaijani armed forces, Nikolay Stepanyan, a 2019 alumnus of the Birthright Armenia program, and five other soldiers were rescued. Exactly one year later, he was among the nominees of Birthright Armenia and Armenian Volunteer Corps’ annual Alumni Leadership Recognition Awards for Valor.

Each year, Birthright Armenia and AVC’s 2,000 and growing group of alumni nominate candidates for awards in the following categories: Valor, Artistic/Cultural Achievement, and Civic Participation/Public Service. Birthright Armenia and AVC’s Board and Staff then select the final recipients. Awards range from $1,000 to $2,000 for a total of $5,000 and are then donated by recipients to the causes closest to their hearts.

Nikolay ultimately won a $2,000 award along with three other alumni who took part in the 44-day Artsakh War. All four men chose to donate their funds to the Lorik Humanitarian Fund. The remaining recipients supported VOMA, All for Armenia, and the Women's Center - Shushi. For a full list of this year’s award recipients, see below.

It is noteworthy that the All for Armenia Fund, one of the organizations that received a donation, was founded by alumni Araz Kekejian-Sahakian and Matthieu Sahakian. Their goal? To provide much needed assistance to the Armenians displaced as a result of the war and support the development of Goris’ border villages.

"As an organization, we highly value that our alumni continue to engage in Armenia. In these critical times, their actions and contributions are significant. As an organization, we truly appreciate all of their efforts and hard work and encourage others to find ways to make their own contributions. This award gives us one more opportunity to use the power of giving to contribute to Armenia’s development in these areas," says Lida Balasanyan, Next Step Program Coordinator of Birthright Armenia and AVC.


2021 Alumni Leadership Recognition Awards: Full List of Recipients


Valor Award


Nikolay Stepanyan, Russia

Mher Almasian, USA

Sevan Ozkul, France

Shant Abrahamian, USA

For their outstanding efforts serving in the military during the 44-day Artsakh war.


Artistic/Cultural Achievement Award


Natalie Kamajian, USA, for her work on educating the public on traditional vernacular dance

Armen Adamyan, USA, for his work digitizing Armenian Folk music


Civic Participation/Public Service Award


Araz Kekejian-Sahakian, Lebanon

Matthieu Sahakian, France

For their work supporting border villages through their newly established All for Armenia NGO


Civic Participation/Public Service Award


Araz Chiloyan, USA for her work at the Ministry of Health supporting COVID-19 relief efforts and providing invaluable information to the community related to vaccination efforts.


For media-related inquiries contact Shushanik Hovhannisyan, our PR Specialist, at shushanik@birthrightarmenia.am

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