NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO — In 1995, the first Young Professionals (YP) group was established in Los Angeles, Calif. by then-BU President Louise Manoogian Simone as a means to actively engage young Armenians between the ages of 22 to 40 in the mission of AGBU. This single act set in motion a trend which, nearly 15 years later, boasts a vibrant, growing network of over two dozen YP groups around the world run entirely by AGBU volunteers.
This year, for the first time ever, the AGBU Central Board of Directors honored the Young Professionals of Greater New York (YPGNY) and the Young Professionals of Northern California (YPNC) with special awards on the occasions of their 10-year anniversaries for extraordinary service to the Armenian community. Deserving of the highest accolades, YPGNY and YPNC were two of the first groups established by AGBU in the late 1990s and, through a decade of service, have mastered harnessing the talents of the younger generation for the greater good.
With an overwhelming response from its contemporaries, YPGNY in 10 years has witnessed a five-time increase in its constituency base. Members close to the group attribute this achievement to its open-door policy for all young Armenians, as well as conscientious efforts to cultivate community relations. In 2008 alone, YPGNY’s diverse programming drew in 1500 YPs and, defying the economic climate in 2009, its trademark Armenian Christmas Reception hit record-breaking attendance figures, raising a remarkable $15,000.
Even more impressive, fundraising powerhouse YPGNY has donated $93,000 in total — the most raised by any one AGBU YP group — to AGBU-affiliated programs since its inception. Striving to make a long-term impact, YPGNY also established the AGBU YP Endowment Fund in 2002 to benefit the AGBU Children’s Centers of Armenia, which has since become a pan-YP endeavor and totals a substantial $79,800.
Ensuring the group is realizing its fullest potential, YPGNY has worked over the years to improve the quality and range of it civic activities. For example, YPGNY, which has annually sponsored student scholarships for the AGBU New York Summer Intern Program (NYSIP) since 1999, teamed up with the program in 2000 to organize Mentoring Night, an evening of professional exchange between local young professionals and visiting interns. In 2007, the initiative was expanded even further into a one-on-one mentorship program, in which YPGNY members provide professional guidance and advice through special gatherings and offline support throughout the eight-week-long internships. Extending its community activities to the interns in 2003, YPGNY introduced NYSIP to Sunshine for Seniors, a day of service with the residents of the New York Armenian Home in Flushing, Queens.
“With an organization as venerable as AGBU, we embrace the role and responsibility that comes with representing the young face of AGBU to the world,” shared Natalie Gabrelian, associate director of the AGBU Education Department, and former chairwoman of YPGNY for seven of its 10 years.