Noubar Afeyan Receives 2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Business Wire) — Noubar B. Afeyan, PhD, managing partner and CEO of Flagship Ventures, was among this year’s recipients of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor given by the National Ethnic Coalition (NECO) on May 10 in New York City. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is awarded to outstanding Americans who have distinguished themselves as citizens of the United States and have enabled their ancestry groups to maintain their identities while becoming integral parts of American life.

In choosing Afeyan, NECO recognized his achievements not only as a successful technologist and entrepreneur, but also as a humanitarian who has had a positive impact on his local community and in his ethnic home country of Armenia. He is a co-founder of Armenia 2020, an international economic development project focusing on Armenia. He was recently appointed to the board of the National Competitiveness Council of Armenia, a quasi-governmental foundation there.

In addition, Afeyan is a co-founder of YerazArt, a foundation sponsoring young musicians from Armenia and providing them with opportunities to compete, study and perform throughout the world. In the US, Afeyan serves on the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Assembly of America.

Afeyan is also a member of the Boston University Board of Overseers and a member of several advisory boards including the Whitehead Institute at MIT, the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) and the Skolkovo School of Management in Moscow.

In addition to Afeyan, this year’s medal of honor recipients include former US Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell; Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, US Air Force Vice Chief of Staff; Human rights activist and Rwandan Genocide survivor and advocate Jacqueline Murekatete; cardiologist Valentin Fuster of Mount Sinai Medical Center and Heart Institute; actor and founder of Operation Iraqi Children Gary Sinise and WWII veteran, Olympian and motivational speaker Louis Zamperini. They received their awards at the annual ceremony on Ellis Island followed by a reception in Ellis Island’s Great Hall.

“Noubar Afeyan and the other 2008 Medal of Honor recipients are known for both their professional successes and their acts of philanthropy — which have helped those in need here in America and abroad. They join a prestigious list of Americans who have been honored for fostering goodwill and making their communities and the world a better place,” explained National Ethnic Coalition Executive Director Rosemarie Taglione.

“Dr. Afeyan exemplifies the American Dream. I congratulate him and all medal recipients and thank them for their continued efforts that touch the lives of so many,” Nasser J. Kazeminy, NECO co-chairman, added.

Established in 1986 by NECO, the Ellis Island Medals of Honor pay tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s cultural mosaic. To date, more than 1,000 American citizens, including former Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon; Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court William Rehnquist; Muhammad Ali; Rosa Parks; Elie Wiesel; Frank Sinatra; Bob Hope; Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, president of the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly and Quincy Jones, have received medals.

Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients are selected each year through a national nomination process. Screening committees from NECO’s member organizations select the final nominees, who are then considered by the Board of Directors. Both the US Senate and House of Representatives have officially passed resolutions recognizing the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, which rank among this country’s most prestigious awards. For a full list of the 2008 awardees, visit

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