LOS ANGELES — Ruben Vardanyan will deliver the keynote address at the 25th Anniversary Gala for the American University of Armenia (AUA) being held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on November 19. Vardanyan’s extensive philanthropic work was recently featured in Forbes Magazine, which referred to him as “one of the three most powerful philanthropists in the world.” Forbes sheds light on Vardanyan’s humanitarian efforts and professional achievements.
Ruben Vardanyan and his wife, Veronika Zonabend, have been staunch supporters of the American University of Armenia, recently joining the exclusive group of benefactors belonging to the 100 Pillars of AUA, a campaign launched in honor of the institution’s 25th anniversary this year. Dozens of AUA Pillars have demonstrated their support for the University with unrestricted gifts of $50,000 distributed over the course of five years.
AUA’s year-end goal is to secure 100 pillars committed to supporting the University’s pledge to provide students with contemporary teaching and learning practices. Over the past 25 years, AUA has successfully created a nurturing and ethical learning environment for thousands of students who have become beacons of hope for the country. The generosity of individuals like Vardanyan and Zonabend allow AUA to continue to produce highly educated generations dedicated to building a thriving Armenia.
Both have a deep history of bringing about positive social change in the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation. Their non-profit organization, RVVZ Foundation, has launched numerous projects aimed at global education, development, advancement of social entrepreneurship and philanthropic infrastructure in former Soviet countries. Together, they have founded the United World College (UWC) Dilijan in Armenia, helping put Armenia on the map for international students interested in pursuing a two-year pre-university education abroad.
The IDeA Foundation (Initiatives for the Development of Armenia), also established by the couple, has carried out important projects such as the restoration of the Tatev Monastery located in southern Armenia, including the construction of a cableway leading to the site. Another major IDeA Foundation initiative has been the 100 LIVES project launched last year in conjunction with the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. 100 LIVES spawned the coveted Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, granted annually to an individual whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes.
Zonabend currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Armenia (AUA). Both she and Vardanyan will be in Los Angeles for the University’s 25th Anniversary Gala, where Vardanyan will speak to guests about the power to make change in Armenia.
The special evening will pay tribute to AUA founders – Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian, Armen and Nelly Der Kiureghian, Stepan (in memoriam) and Seta Karamardian, as well as the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Government of the Republic of Armenia, and the University of California (UC).
Longtime AUA supporters and board members Zaven P. Akian and Sinan Sinanian are co-chairing the event. Highlights will include a performance by world-renowned soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, an appearance by former U.S. ambassador to Armenia John M. Evans, as well as a special presentation by Eric Esrailian, producer for Kirk Kerkorian’s production company, Survival Pictures, who will take the stage to present guests with a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s first film, The Promise.
The AUA 25th Anniversary Gala Benefactors include Vigen and Houry Ghazarian, Albert and Terry Bezjian, Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian and Louise Manoogian Simone. The evening’s Visionary Patrons include Adam and Rita Kablanian, Zaven and Sonia Akian, and Sinan and Angele Sinanian. Corporate sponsors such Rubicon Point Partners, Umpqua Bank, Golden State Bank, and Glendale Adventist Medical Center have also shown their support for the Gala.
Net proceeds from the AUA 25th Anniversary Gala will support critical scholarship programs.