SOAR - Minneapolis Chapter

Minneapolis joined the SOAR family in December 2015. The first Armenian families settled in Minnesota after the Armenian Genocide. They were later joined by refugees from Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Egypt. St. Sahag Armenian Church has been functioning in the city of Saint Paul for more than 10 years, while the Armenian Cultural Organization of Minnesota (ACOM) preserves and promotes Armenian culture, language, history and heritage in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Founded in 1980, ACOM is the oldest and largest Armenian organization in the state.

Board of Directors:

Julianne Shelton

Julianne Shelton is Research Lead at brightpeak financial, a division of Thrivent Financial. She relocated to Minneapolis for the job in January 2017 from Raleigh, NC. While attending Fuller Theological Seminary in 2006, she enjoyed her first cup of surge in the home of an Armenian while living in Glendale, California. She then served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia from 2010 to 2012, living in the town of Charentsavan and working alongside an English teacher in School 4. She also worked with local teachers to introduce the government's new Healthy Lifestyles curriculum to the school and assisted local professionals in developing projects to benefit the community and receive grant funding.

Upon her return to the U.S. she began her Masters in Public Policy at Duke University, with a concentration in International Development, focusing her Master’s project on developing the free and independent media in Armenia. She returned to live among Armenian people again in 2015 as a Peace Corps Response volunteer in Ninotsminda, Georgia, working with community radio station, NOR, to promote the voice of the people. She keeps close connections with her family and friends in Armenia and seeks to connect with the Armenian community wherever she goes.

Caroline Melkonian Ylitalo

Caroline Melkonian Ylitalo is a division scientist at 3M Company. She was born in Aleppo, Syria, and attended the AGBU school there. Caroline hold a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University. She has over 90 issued and pending patents and 22 journal publications. Ylitalo is an active volunteer both within and outside the Armenian community in Minnesota. She has been a member of the St. Sahag Armenian church for many years singing in the choir and serving two terms on the parish council. In addition, Ylitalo is a co-founder of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, she served five years on the 3M Foundation advisory board and currently serves on the Scientific Review Committee of the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair.

Christine Samuelian

Christine Samuelian is a social worker, and graduate of Bloomsburg University. She sings with the choir at St Sahag Church in St Paul, Minnesota, and is a proud graduate of the Armenian Sisters Academy, having started as one of the original "dirty dozen" of twelve students. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, daughter and her daughter's pets.