Nicole Babikian Hajjar

Nicole Babikian Hajjar Leads Mirror 85th Anniversary Gala Benefit

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By Sara Janjigian Trifiro

WATERTOWN – The Armenian Mirror-Spectator will mark its 85th anniversary with a two-day celebration including a symposium titled “Journalism and Fake News: The Armenian Genocide and Karabagh” on November 2 at Wellesley College, and a gala benefit under the theme of “Reflecting. Connecting. Inspiring” on November 3 at the Boston Marriott Newton. These celebratory events will feature an impressive line-up of speakers and honorees, including internationally acclaimed British journalist Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for The Independent and seven-time recipient of the British Press Awards’ “Reporter of the Year”; columnist for Diken and Al Monitor and former Turkey correspondent for The Economist Amberin Zaman, writer and director of Alternative Radio David Barsamian, and Philip Terzian, a senior editor of The Weekly Standard in Washington. Chairing the gala benefit is Nicole Babikian Hajjar, of Lexington Massachusetts.

Nicole took on this responsibility because of her long-standing connection with the Mirror-Spectator and her deep belief in the fundamental role the paper plays in the Armenian community.  She views the Mirror as “a major voice in the Armenian press, a window to our greater community, and a platform to make our individual voices heard. The Mirror keeps us all connected and engaged, and often times inspired by the many stories and profiles it sheds a light on.”

Nicole was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon where she received her BA in Economics from the American University of Beirut (AUB), followed by a Translator Diploma from Universite Saint-Joseph. Before moving to the US in 1994, Nicole worked as a sworn translator (she is fluent in French, Arabic, English and Armenian) and a copywriter in advertising.

Upon coming to the United States, Nicole looked to the Mirror-Spectator for access to the greater Armenian community through the diversity of topics and areas the paper covered, from the arts and culture, to politics and local and international events. Throughout years of volunteering and philanthropy, Nicole has faithfully stepped up to the call of her community. Before chairing the Mirror’s 85th Anniversary, she has been leading the Board of the YerazArt Foundation for almost 10 years, dedicating her time and resources to supporting and promoting young, talented musicians from Armenia.  “Whenever I asked the press to cover any of our concerts or other events,” recounts Nicole, “the Mirror was always there for us. Not just for me, but for so many others who work hard at supporting charitable initiatives throughout our community. It therefore felt natural for me to give back and be there for the Mirror,” she adds. Nicole has chaired numerous fundraisers for various Armenian organizations including the Armenia Tree Project, Project SAVE Archives and Hamazkayin, in addition to her many years of service to St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown and to the New England Chapter of the Worldwide Alumni Association of her alma mater AUB. “To sum it up, I call myself a professional volunteer,” she says jokingly.

Nicole has passed this deep commitment to service to her children. Her daughters Serena and Anelga both interned at the Mirror prior to their high school senior years and found the experience rewarding, informative and enriching. They enjoyed working in a fun environment and being exposed to the wealth and diversity of opportunity within the Armenian community.

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Citing the many innovations currently in the works at the Mirror, Nicole mentioned the release of a new mobile-friendly and interactive website: “The Mirror needs to stay relevant in the new media landscape. We also need to meet young readers where they are and how they consume the news.” Commenting on the recent increase in the paper output from 16 to 20 pages, she noted: “This expansion in scope and subjects calls for the hiring of additional of reporters and correspondents throughout the world.”  She adds: “And with 85 years of print material in store, the digitization of past issues is imperative to allow researchers and future generations to tap into this invaluable source of content.”

Nicole likes to recall what a fellow committee member said at one of their very first meetings: “If the Mirror were to shut down, I would feel left in the dark.”

“Let’s do our part to not only keep the lights on, but to make sure they shine wider and brighter into the future,” she concludes.

All readers and supporters of the Mirror are invited to attend the symposium and the gala benefit in celebration of the Mirror’s 85th Anniversary. For reservations and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Aram Arkun at (917) 743-9005 or tcadirector@aol.com.