Ambassador Edward Djeredjian to Speak at Najarian-Endowed Lecture On Human Rights


BOSTON — The third annual K. George and Carolann S. Najarian, MD Endowed Lecture on Human Rights will be held on Thursday, October 25, at 7 p.m. at Faneuil Hall.

Free and open to the public, the lecture is an endowed public program of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, sponsor of the Armenian Heritage Park on Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

In celebration of the opening of the Armenian Heritage Park and a central theme of the Greenway — the immigrant experience — it is fitting that this year’s speaker is Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and former US ambassador to Israel and Syria.

A first generation Armenian-American and the son of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, Djerejian is an example of the kind of achievement, leadership, public service and commitment to human rights that this endowed lecture series celebrates in this inaugural year of the park. Djerejian has also worked to assist Armenia and Artsakh in their transition to democracy and peace.

Djerejian served in the US Foreign Service under eight presidents, from John F. Kennedy to William J. Clinton (1962-1994). Prior to his nomination by Clinton as US Ambassador to Israel (1993-1994), he was assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations (1991- 1993). He was the US ambassador to Syria (1988-1991) and also served as special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and deputy press secretary for foreign affairs in the White House (1985-1986). After his retirement from government service in 1994, he became the founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

His book, Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. He has been awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Department of State’s Distinguished Honor Award and numerous other honors, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Anti- Defamation League’s Moral Statesman Award. He is also a recipient of the Association of Rice Alumni’s Gold Medal, the group’s most prestigious award, for his service to Rice University.

In 2011, Djerejian was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and named to the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York by its president, Dr. Vartan B. Gregorian.

“We are honored and pleased that the ambassador has accepted our invitation to speak in this inaugural year of Armenian Heritage Park,” commented Dr. Carolann S. Najarian who with her husband, George, has endowed this lecture series in honor of Carolann Najarian’s father, Avedis Abrahamian.

The lecture series has been inspired by the New England women and men — intellectuals, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders and ordinary citizens — who, beginning in the 1890s at Faneuil Hall, heard the eyewitness accounts of the atrocities taking place against the Armenian minority of the Ottoman Empire during World War I and were called to action. Distinguished Bostonians, among them Julia Ward Howe, Clara Barton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Alice Stone Blackwell, heard these accounts and were moved to assist the

Armenians. As a result, the American Red Cross launched its first international mission, Armenian Heritage Foundation, with Barton bringing aid to the Armenians. Philanthropists nationwide raised more than $100 million in aid. This was America’s first internationally- focused human rights movement.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino are honorary chairs. Co-chairs representing their participating organization are Charlie Clements, executive director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Martha F. Davis, PhD, faculty director, Northeastern School of Law, Human Rights and the Global Economy; David Hollenbach, S.J., director, Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice; Michael A. Grodin, MD, and George J. Annas, JD, and MPH co-directors, Global Lawyers and Physicians Working Together for Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health; Shant Mardirossian, chairman of the board, Near East Foundation; Margot Stern Strom, founder/executive director, Facing History and Ourselves; Adam Strom, director of research and development, Facing History and Ourselves; Deborah W. Nutter, PhD, senior associate dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; Balakrishnan Rajagopal, PhD, acting director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Human Rights and Justice; and Joshua Rubenstein, Northeast Regional director, Amnesty International USA.

Serving on the Lecture Committee are Dr. Carolann Najarian, George Najarian, Dr. Joyce Barsam, Phyllis Dohanian, Dr. Linda Kaboolian, Audrey Kalajian and Barbara Tellalian. The Armenian Heritage Foundation, sponsor of Armenian Heritage Park, is a non-profit organization founded to secure the designation and to raise funds to design, develop and construct Armenian Heritage Park and endow its public programs, including this annual lecture, the reconfiguration of the park’s sculpture and its ongoing care and maintenance. The board comprises representatives from 13 parishes and 25 cultural organizations within the Massachusetts Armenian-American community. Honorary chairs of the foundation are Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and Registrar Rachel Kaprielian; the president is James Kalustian.

For further information on Armenian Heritage Park and its programs, visit ArmenianHeritagePark.org.