Assembly Pays Tribute to a Trio of Veteran Supporters


The three honorees, standing, Virginia Ohanian and Nevart Telanian, with Ann Hintlian, seated

By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Warriors come in all shapes, sizes and ages. For the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), the term defines a trio of women who have stood by the Assembly since its inception almost 40 years ago. On Thursday, May 16, the organization paid tribute to Ann Hintlian, Virginia Ohanian and Nevart Talanian at an elegant reception high atop the Hyatt Hotel, during which each of the three received the organization’s Distinguished Humanitarian Award.

The program featured tributes to the three, as well as a visit from current US Rep. Edward Markey (D-Ma) and current candidate to fill the Senate seat of John Kerry, who was appointed as Secretary of State by President Barack Obama.

During the program, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian spoke about entering the race for the US House seat of Markey, should he win the Senate race.

The program was started by Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian, who introduced Koutoujian, the program’s master of ceremonies. Kaprielian, a former colleague of Koutoujian in the Massachusetts State House, called him her “khnami,” or family. She showered him with praise, saying he was “doing incredible things that have never been done” by someone in that office, including bringing a more enlightened approach, such as turning an unused room into a chapel for reflection and prayer.

Koutoujian, when he took the podium, praised the Assembly’s role in pushing the Genocide issue as well as better relations between the US and Armenia. “We’re here to celebrate the work of the Armenian Assembly as well as the work of these three women, Ann, Ginny and Nevart.”

The three, he said, have made contributions both in terms of money and volunteer hours to “allow the Assembly’s important work to go on. It is an organization that educates both locally and nationally. I have relied on their information frequently.”

Van Krikorian, chairman of the Assembly, spoke next, saying that after hearing the previous speakers, he had to scrap his previously written comment. “I was struck by Peter’s and Rachel’s comments. We are honoring [the honorees’] spirits and families,” he said. He singled out the Massachusetts Armenian community “where the Assembly has such a solid base. The Massachusetts Armenian community is one of the strongest and best.”

He praised the trio for their zeal and their urging on the Assembly. “Frankly, we felt like we were working for our mothers,” he said. “We are honoring that spirit.”

He also praised the Assembly’s “particular attention to the future” in the form of internships.

In her comments, Ohanian said, “I hope each and every one of you remains good Armenians and don’t forget your roots. That small nation is mighty strong.”

Talanian said she was speaking on behalf of Hintlian too, noting, “It means a lot to us. We would not be honored for our philanthropic work if not for three very dear people, Deran, Michael and Charlie [their husbands]. Their hard wok and perseverance allowed us to be philanthropic to others.”

Hintlian has been a member of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church. She has been a Life Trustee of the Assembly, and was a donor to the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica Plain. She has supported the Armenian Heritage Park.

Ohanian and her husband, the late Michael Ohanian, were Life Trustees of the Assembly. After visiting Armenia, she became a major donor to the Armenia Tree Project as well as founding the Michael and Virginia Ohanian Center for Environment Studies in Armenia. She also is a member of Holy Trinity Armenian Church.

Talanian, another Holy Trinity member, is a Life Trustee of the Assembly and a supporter of the Armenia Tree Project.

Anthony Barsamian of the Assembly read a letter from Carolyn Mugar, who could not be present at the event. “They have been at the heart of our work. … I am with you in spirit. I hope you know how deeply you are in my heart,” he read.

Barsamian praised the Assembly not only for the work it does lobbying, but the work “behind the scenes,” including making the position of Armenia more valuable to the US government. One area, he stressed was getting information out about the Chechen fighters in Azerbaijan.

In introducing the evening’s guest, Markey, Koutoujian said that he had been “a friend to our community for 40 years,” and that he had represented his district, which includes Watertown, well. Koutoujian said that Markey had been a longtime member of the Armenian Caucus in Washington and a “proponent of Armenia.”

Speaking very briefly, Markey said he was “proud” of Watertown’s response during the recent terror attack. “It was tragedy and triumph at the same time,” he said.

He said the time was right to recognize the Armenian Genocide and let the Turkish government know that they could not erase a people from their midst. He also praised the local Armenian community for its drive and success.

They also singled out longtime supports of the Assembly James and Marta Batmasian, who were in Massachusetts for the program, for their work with inner city youth. “They make difference. Jim and Marta go to mass with the kids and they make sure they feel love. It is very inspirational,” Koutoujian said.