AIWA San Francisco Receives Scholarships for Three Young Women to Attend Watermark Conference


SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Armenian International Women’s Association – San Francisco (AIWA-SF) affiliate, was awarded a scholarship for three students to participate in the Watermark Conference for Women, Young Women’s Program.  The AIWA-SF Board selected three recipients: Natalie Simonian, Irina Marutyan and Emily Hovanessian.

Chaperoning the scholar recipients was Suzanna Khatchatrian, a senior software engineering manager at IBM and AIWA-SF board member.

The daylong conference was filled with learning opportunities including inspiring keynote speakers, valuable panel discussions and workshops. The Young Women’s Program is a seminar track designed especially for students. Emily Greener founder of I AM THAT GIRL spoke to the students about “Empowering Everyday Life.” Next the students participated in a panel discussion titled “Brave Girls: Strategies to Excel” which focused on how to mold, motivate and influence the next generation of women to positively influence and shape our world. In addition, the students were exposed to messages from Mindy Kaling, actor, producer, director and best-selling author, Abby Wambach, two-time Olympian and retired forward of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Championship, Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief, Glamor, Jessica Aguirre, NBC Bay Area News, and host of “Class Action”, Pattie Sellers, executive director of Fortune MPW Live Content, Time Inc. and many more.

The conference was days before the 101th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Having the ability for three Armenian students to attend such an incredible conference along with other Armenian’s was particularly special as it continues to tell the story the communities’ survival, love for life and zestful motivation. Along with the AIWA-SF attendees, we were very proud to see Rita Bojalian, Senior Counsel at Boston Scientific as a panelist in the “Take Your Seat at the Leadership Table” discussion.  Demonstrating useful leadership tips and tactics she shared her story of how she got a seat at the table. Her career accomplishments, inspiring message and humanitarian efforts are just some of the things that make her a premier role model. We were also delighted to see that Karineh Khachatourian, managing partner of Duane Morris Silicon Valley host a breakout session for Emerging Professionals titled “Let Me Tell You About Myself…: Telling Your Story in More Than Just Words.”

Khatchatrian reflects, “The overall experience was remarkable! Getting the empowerment message is always refreshing; I felt there was something special about this conference. Teaching positive reinforcement, accepting who we are and never being afraid to be a disruptive leader are just some of the lessons I learned.” Khatchatrian implemented these learning immediately at work. The next day she submitted a process change proposal for the IBM global organization and immediately received positive feedback.

AIWA-SF President, Christine Soussa shares, “These sorts of conferences inspire us think realize our potential. They create an environment where we can share past stories and future hopes.  Giving us a glimpse into the complex events, opportunities, learnings, successes and failures that bring people to the present while inspiring the future. When the slide of participating schools and organizations was shared among an audience of 6,000, it gave me immense joy to see AIWA-SF listed! I hope we will have the opportunity to expand our scholarship base next year and further partner with Watermark.”

Lusine Yeghiazaryan, an AIWA-SF board member and senior director at GoPro says, “We are very fortunate at AIWA-SF to be able to partner with such leading Bay Area organizations as Watermark and Upward to provide Armenian-American girls amazing opportunities for development, leadership and networking. One of our goals is to facilitate our girls’ access to resources and mentorship, while tapping into the overall global movement that focuses on the next generation of female leaders.”

The Watermark Conference for Women highlighted women from various industries and walks of life, who were brave enough to embrace their future and contribute to something bigger than themselves. The collective energy in the room was inspiring, with a message of encouragement to be a part of the meaningful and impactful progress. As an organization, AIWA-SF is committed to empowerment and we are grateful to be a part of this movement.