SOAR - Geneva Chapter

Switzerland became part of the SOAR family in September 2013. The first Armenian families settled in Switzerland at the end of the 19th century, fleeing persecution of Sultan Abdul Hamid in the Ottoman Empire. They settled mainly in French-speaking Switzerland. During and immediately after the Armenian Genocide of 1915, other refugees arrived. In the 1920s, Pastor Kraft Bonnard created an orphanage in Begnins where more than 200 orphans and genocide survivors found refuge. After finishing their studies, some remained permanently in Switzerland.

At the end of the Second World War, the community in Switzerland reached approximately 300 people. Since then, the number has continued to grow. The situations in the Middle East, in the former Soviet Union, and in independent Armenia have encouraged many Armenians to immigrate to the West. It is estimated that approximately 5,000 Armenians live in Switzerland today.

The majority of Swiss Armenians are members of the Armenian Apostolic Church, under the jurisdiction of the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin. There are four church regions: Geneva, Zurich, Neuchatel and Lugano. The Saint Hagop Church in Troinex serves mainly the West of the country, while Armenians living in the East conduct their religious services in a number of sister Swiss churches. There are also a smaller number of Armenian Catholics belonging and even a smaller number of Armenian Evangelicals.

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Board of Directors:

Kristina Nettles

Born and raised in Yerevan Armenia, Kristina now resides in the outskirts of Geneva Switzerland, with her husband, daughter and an adorable maltichon, Betsy. She earned her master’s degree from Yerevan State University and later obtained her series 3 license in Boston MA to explore new carriers in banking and financial industry.

In the past 15 years Kristina and her family lived in many different countries: Armenia, Russia, USA- Providence, Boston, Switzerland- Zurich and Geneva. Living in a new culture can be exhilarating, personally rewarding, and intellectually stimulating and it helps to remain open in order to become aware of similarities and differences, to learn rather than to judge.

Currently she is a Vice President, EMEA sales at a software development company form Silicon Valley, CA. Kristina speaks Armenian, Russian and English. Kristina has been a strong supporter of SOAR and by establishing the Geneva Chapter she is hoping to make a difference in the lives of many children in need.

Astrig Marandjian
Vice President

Astrig is from Gumri, Armenia. After the earthquake in 1988 she became an orphan and was helped by humanitarian NGO’s and donators. Once an adult, she decided to devote her life to people in need. After her studies in foreign languages in Yerevan State University at the age of 24, she became the director of SPFA, a French humanitarian NGO, one of most successful organizations in the field of family sponsorship, charity restaurants, children summer camps, youth clubs, etc. Her professional experience provided her knowledge and expertise about the problems faced by orphanages in Armenia and related issues. To strengthen her capacities she earned a Masters degree in Humanitarian Action from Geneva University.

She is currently living in Switzerland and working at the Armenian Center of Geneva, as administrator. She is the author of 2 books for children: “Armenian Popular Tales” in French and “Armenian Songs and Poems of Our Childhood” in Armenian. Married, she is mother of two children: Ararat and Loucine.

Astrik Abikian

Astrik was born in Lebanon, studied at the American University of Beirut , and moved to France in 1991 because of the civil war in Lebanon. She was married while living in France and has a lovely son, Harout Julien. Astrik created a Laboratory of dental prosthesis in Grenoble, and then an Armenian snack in Seyssel. In the past she has worked as an analyst programmer with American companies in Lebanon then as an accountant in France and Geneva. Her last position was as a finalization controller for a trader’s contract in Geneva. Astrik speaks Armenian, English, Arab and French.

Lilit Dzhilavian

Born in Vanadzor in 1987, after the earthquake in Armenia Lilit's parents decided to move to Russia. She finished high school in Russia. At the age of 17, Lilit moved to Geneva for studies. She earned her Bachelor Degree in civil law from Moscow State University and herMaster's Degree in international law from Lausanne State University.

Lilit is currently living in Geneva and working in Lausanne. She speaks Russian, Armenian, French, and English.

Antranik Krikor Ozanian

Antranik Krikor Ozanian was called to the U.K. bar in July 2014, having completed both undergraduate and masters law degrees at the University of Manchester. His desire to pursue a career protecting Human Rights has led him to the city of Geneva, where he currently works to improve legal systems in developing countries. Previously, Andrew has interned at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) where he assisted the prosecution of those accused of war crimes during the Yugoslav conflicts. Andrew has also spent time in Georgia U.S.A where he worked for Georgia Capital Defenders, helping defend prisoners’ rights on death row.