“Each time we save a mother in Armenia, we save her entire family and, thus, our Nation.” – Rita Balian
Rita Balian is the founder and co-president of the Armenian American Wellness Center in Yerevan, Armenia. She also serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Armenian American Cultural Association, Inc. (AACA), a non-profit humanitarian organization founded in 1995 that is the principal sponsor of the Wellness Center.
Mrs. Balian has worked for many years as a volunteer in humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors dedicated to improving the lives of the Armenian people and fostering cooperation and understanding between the citizens of the United States and Armenia.
She has received many awards in recognition of her work; most notably the “Spirit of Life Cancer Advocacy Award” in September 2003 from the International Spirit of Life Foundation and the Washington Cancer Institute, the “Outstanding Citizen Achievement Award” from the United States Agency for International Development in January 2003, and the St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal, the Armenian Church’s highest medal of honor, bestowed upon her through a Pontifical Encyclical by His Holiness, the Catholicos Karekin II, in October 2001.
She has received three honorary doctoral degrees for her humanitarian and educational activities in Armenia: from the Yerevan State University of Armenia in 1995, the Yerevan State Medical University in 2000 and the Gavar State University in 2001. In April 1996, Mrs. Balian and her husband, Vartkess Balian, became honorary citizens of the Republic of Armenia through a special presidential decree presented to them at the Armenian Embassy in Washington, DC.
Mrs. Balian received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and child education from the American University of Beirut.
Hranush Hakobyan, Ph.D.
“The Wellness Center is a state-of-the-art health care facility offering high quality services with kindness and compassion – inspiring HOPE.” – Hranush Hakobyan
Hranush Hakobyan is the co-founder and co-president of the Armenian American Wellness Center in Yerevan, to which she has devoted her time as a volunteer since 1997.
In 2008, Dr. Hakobyan was appointed as the Republic of Armenia Minister of Diaspora. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Hakobyan was elected to the National Assembly of Armenia (Armenia’s Parliament) and has served for four terms since Armenia’s independence in 1990. She also served as the chair of the Standing Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Youth Issues of the National Assembly of Armenia, a position she held since September 2003. She is considered to be the longest serving woman in Parliament.
Dr. Hakobyan previously served as Minister of Social Security from 1996 to 1998 and chair of the Standing Committee on Health, Social Services, and Ecology of the National Assembly from 1994 to 1996. She has authored eighty-five laws on issues concerning women, children, health, privatization and human rights in the Armenian Parliament.
Dr. Hakobyan has been awarded state and governmental awards, medals and certificates.She has been recognized as Best Woman of the Year, Best Deputy of the Year and Best Political Figure of the Year. In 2008, she was granted the ranking of RA Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary by the RA President’s decree. She has been awarded state medals, honors, letters of acknowledgment and was decorated with the National Order of Merit of the French Republic.
She graduated from the Department of Applied Mathematics of Yerevan State University in 1975, from the Academy of Social Sciences in Moscow in 1989, and from the Law Department in 1994. She earned a doctorate in legal sciences and currently serves as a professor at Gavar State University.