Christine Soussa

AIWA Thrive Celebrates Prospering Armenians All over the World


By Sara Janjigian Trifiro

SAN FRANCISCO — How do we honor our Armenian history while celebrating the global resilience of the Armenian spirit that has thrived for 106 years? That is what Christine Soussa asked the Armenian International Women’s Association San Francisco Chapter (AIWA-SF) four years ago. From there, AIWA Thrive was born, an April venture to share stories of individuals from around the world who are positively impacting our community as they lead with purpose.

Lena Gasparyan celebrating Armenian culture

“It’s all about building, honoring and elevating community. We are incredibly inspired by the profound talent and wisdom of our International community. There are so many amazing individuals and teams who enrich their societies in endless ways; we wanted to share these stories” remarks Christine. “When I joined the international board, I shared this vision with the team and they were delighted to support taking Thrive to the next level.”

Like seeds from a flower blowing in the wind, Armenians were scattered all over the world and found fertile ground to regrow and Thrive. Some incredible features include Alexandra Narine Kaprielian, head of US distribution for Takri Wines. Kaprielian is working with the team at Takri to rebuild after the loss of several employees and their vineyards as a result of the 2020 war.

Sadly, the story is all too familiar to her. “Our family had vineyards in 1915 which were also taken by the Turks during the genocide so it was very painful to see history repeating itself. But we also decided that we would not allow that to stop us from producing Armenian wine and we have already secured new lands to continue.”

Arevik Ashkharoyan, Literary Agent

On April 2, Thrive honored Lena Gasparyan, president of the Armenian Cultural Association, South Australia, who works for the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia, the state’s top organization for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. She states that the Armenian fedayi or freedom fighter Sose Mayrik was and is her superhero and she wanted to be just like her, “serving and saving my people.” She is clearly following in her footsteps!

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“If you want to see the change, you must be the change,” says Teny Avakian who was featured on April 9.  She believes investing in children and youth is an obligation of every Armenian, which is why she transitioned to non-profit work as CEO of Girls Of Armenia Leadership Soccer (GOALS). Currently GOALS is working through the Assarian Relief Initiative which seeks to support children of war and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), creating a safe space to develop skills and work on their physical and mental well-being.

Narine Kaprielian, Head of US Distribution for Takri Wines

In the past, Thrive has shared the remarkable stories of a wide range of individuals, including children, educators, community leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, and business leaders. They have featured Anahit Stelmashova, an international award winning pianist who was 11 at the time; Joel A. Martin, creator of the incredible Jazzical Komitas; Lucy Mirigian, the oldest Armenian who was featured at the age of 114; educators such as Mary Papazian, president of San Jose State University; business leaders such as Nina Achadjian, Partner at Index Ventures, and many more.

Most recently, AIWA Thrive recognized Arevik Ashkharoyan, a literary agent with ten years of experience in publishing. In 2016, she established ARI Literary and Talent Agency, representing a dozen writers of Armenian origin from all over the world. ARI Foundation is also supporting the Armenian community with Write in Armenia International Writing Camp, Zabel International Women Writers Forum, and Let’s Read! (ARI Kardanq) book clubs to ensure there are inspired writers throughout the community.

Soussa’s dream for Thrive is to continue building and bringing our global community together. Read and follow AIWA Thrive at and nominate an AIWA Thrive honoree at

AIWA connects, inspires and empowers Armenian women throughout the world to bring about positive change in their lives and in their communities. This year AIWA is celebrating its 30th anniversary.


Topics: AIWA
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