WASHINGTON — Kathy Lalazarian, a senior public sector specialist at the World Bank, was a talented leader and professional who tragically passed away in 2018. As the lead for World Bank-supported public sector reforms in over a dozen countries in regions across Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Central Asia, she made a great impact on many across the world. On a personal level, she was a caring and beloved friend to many. Following her untimely death at the age of 46, friends and colleagues approached Lalazarian’s relatives and shared their desire to honor her memory in a meaningful and lasting way. Family members Raffi and Ani Zargarian proposed the idea of the gift of education, which ultimately led to the creation of the Kathy Lalazarian Endowed Scholarship Fund at the American University of Armenia (AUA) in her honor.
For Lalazarian, an American national of Armenian descent, her ancestral homeland of Armenia held a special place in her heart. From 2005 to 2010, she led the World Bank’s program supporting public administration reform in Armenia. This involved assisting the government with strategic planning of governance reforms, building institutional capacity for policy formulation, service delivery, civil service training, human resource management, and other related reform efforts. It is notable that “a good portion of her career was spent leading programs in one of her homelands, Armenia,” says her cousin Ani Zargarian.
Zargarian recalls the overwhelming enthusiasm of Lalazarian’s colleagues and friends to honor her life. Zargarian and her father had proposed the idea of creating scholarships for Armenian students and this had resonated with the group and seemed right to pursue. They approached AUA, initially intending to make a donation of several one-time scholarships. These preliminary discussions led the group to consider the option of creating an endowed scholarship fund that would remain in perpetuity, keeping Lalazarian’s memory alive through the gift of education to generations of AUA students.
“Beyond the fact that AUA is among the leading higher education institutions in Armenia, our choice was also motivated by the fact that Kathy was an American national and the daughter of an Armenian father,” said Davit Melikyan, a friend of Lalazarian’s from World Bank, Armenia.
The endowment is meant to also create opportunities for women. Although both male and female students will be eligible for the scholarship, the group proposes that female candidates be given priority to help to ensure that women receive a competitive education and succeed in the modern world.
“Kathy’s tenacious, vivacious and vibrant spirit will live on in our hearts but also transcend and flourish through the many young women this scholarship will benefit,” states Zargarian.