SOAR - Philadelphia Metro Chapter
In November 2011, SOAR's Executive Board voted unanimously to create a Chapter in Philadelphia. Although our Executive Board is based in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the consensus was that a Philadelphia Chapter would help streamline localized communication and fundraising efforts while simultaneously making our national and international efforts more efficient. The Philadelphia Metro Chapter encompasses the geographical areas of Philadelphia, Delaware, and South New Jersey.
Stephanie Rapp LeGrand of the SOAR-Philadelphia Metro chapter oversees the Birthday Fund Program.
Board of Directors:
Ani Semerjian was born and raised in San Francisco and moved to the Philadelphia area in 1998. She has a B.S. in Industrial Technology from San Francisco State University and holds a Masters of Science in Interior Design from Drexel University. In 2006 she opened her interior design business, Semerjian Interiors, which she is currently running. Ani has always been an active member in the Armenian community since childhood, ranging from membership in the AYF San Francisco Rosdom Chapter as an executive member for several years, to being active in the ANCA both the western and eastern regions in the US. A grandchild of orphans of the Armenian Genocide, Ani is passionate about making a difference for orphaned children in Armenia. Ani and her husband Mark reside in Devon, PA with their 2 children, Noemie and Armen.
Maggie Odabashian (Merdjanian)
Maggie grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. As an Armenian American and a descendant of the Armenian Genocide, she is passionate about involvement in the Philadelphia Armenian community and helping orphans in Armenia. She is a graduate of Armenian Sisters Academy, and was actively involved in St Sahag and St Mesrob Armenian Church in various capacities ranging from the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) through Sunday School Superintendent. Maggie previously served on the SOAR Philadelphia board, and was the President of the NY/NJ Chapter. Maggie has a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems from Villanova University. For the past 15 years, she has been working in the Information Technology field, specializing in SAP implementations and project management. She is currently at the Depuy Synthes Companies of Johnson and Johnson, where she is a manager of Quality Information Systems. She currently lives in suburbs of Philadelphia with her husband Stephen and their two young boys.
Alene Schreiner (Kailian)
Alene was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and moved to the Boston area in 2004 to pursue her Master in Business Administration at Boston University. It was in Boston that she first became involved in SOAR, serving as the Vice President for the SOAR New England Chapter. She remained in the Boston area until August 2011 working as a Financial Analyst for Intel. Alene recently relocated back to the Philadelphia area where she continues to keep strong ties to the Philadelphia Armenian community. She is a graduate of Armenian Sisters Academy in Radnor, PA and was a long-time member of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) through her parish, Saint Sahag and Saint Mesrob Church in Wynnewood, PA. She received her undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Villanova University with a dual major in Finance and Management Information Systems, as well as a minor in Spanish. Alene resides in Newtown Square, PA with her husband, Adam, and their dog, Lola.
Patrice Keshgegian was born and grew up in the Philadelphia area. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in the area of Speech Correction from West Chester University and a Master’s equivalency in Speech and Language Pathology. Patrice has worked as a speech and language pathologist for many years in numerous settings, including schools, hospitals, and in home care, with patients ranging in age from infancy to the elderly. She is an active member of St. Mark’s Armenian Catholic Church. Patrice and her husband Albert reside in Newtown Square, PA and have three sons and four grandchildren. In 2013 Patrice and Albert travelled to Armenia to witness the baptism of one of their granddaughters in an ancient Armenian monastery.
Stephanie Rapp LeGrand
National Birthday Fund Coordinator
Stephanie's involvement with the Armenian community began with the adoption of her daughter, Fiona, from the Nork orphanage in Yerevan in 2007. Since that time, she has devoted her days to the immeasurable joy, challenge and worry that comes with growing a family and raising children. In 2014, while planning her daughter's birthday party, Fiona was dismayed to learn that not every kid gets to celebrate his or her birthday. Fiona suggested giving her birthday gifts to kids who don't get any - an idea that lead to the creation of the SOAR Birthday Fund and began Stephanie's active involvement with SOAR. Previous SOAR activities included sponsoring children and supporting fundraisers. Stephanie has a degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University and, prior to having children, she worked in business consulting and operations management. She resides in south Jersey with her husband and three children.
Stephanie is a film producer, project manager, and educator. Her films have screened on PBS stations across the U.S. and at film festivals, including Munich International, Slamdance, and Seattle. Her current documentary, A New Armenia, focuses on Armenian Americans 100 years after the Genocide. Ayanian co-owns storyshop, an independent production house for creative media. Previously, Ayanian worked as a senior producer/director for Penn State Public Broadcasting where she was the producer and director of Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure, for which she received the American Association of Engineering Societies Award for Journalism. She produced and directed the Geospatial Revolution Project, which was released episodically on the web and has screened worldwide. She holds an MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and a BA in Film and Video from Penn State University. She has taught film production at University of the Arts, Temple University, and Drexel University.
Anny Deirmenjian Deese
Anny Deirmenjian Deese was born in Boston, Massachusetts and has been an active member in the Armenian community, volunteering for various groups and organizations including the ANCA Eastern Region and AYF. Anny is a graduate of Lesley University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts & Art History. In 2011, she married Anthony Deese and moved to the Philadelphia area. Her daughter Talar Victoria Deese was born in June of 2015. Before her role as PR & Marketing Director for Davio's Restaurant Group, Anny worked for Image Unlimited Communications a Lifestyle & Hospitality agency based in Boston, MA. Anny passionate about her Armenian heritage and helping the children of Armenia through SOAR.
Carolyn is a certified teacher in the state of Pennsylvania. She was introduced to different languages from an early age due in part to family origin. She has always been intrigued with various cultures and their languages, taking Spanish and French in high school. Carolyn has always strived to learn more than what was required in her education. Her interests, at that time, took her to special needs related programs. For example, in college, despite the one language requirement, she studied two languages and signed English for the Deaf and American Sign Language. After college, she continued independantly her study of American Sign Language for many years. This passion led her to a position for deaf and hard of hearing students. This program was eventually discontinued as advances in medicine led to reduction of special need students with this particular need.
As fate would have it, a position at Armenian Sister's Academy became available. Carolyn received the job as First Grade Teacher and has been there for over ten years. Her time there has introduced her to a new culture and language, Armenian, which she feels an affinity towards. After meeting George Yacoubian and attending the ten year anniversary of SOAR in Philadelphia, she became inspired to give back to thev Armenian community. With her background in teaching and love of languages and children's education, she hopes that her skills will benefit the SOAR program.
Nadine Hoplamazian was born in Providence, Rhode Island and has been an active member in the Armenian community from a very young age. Nadine is a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration. She married David Hoplamazian in 2007 and it was then that she moved to the Philadelphia area. She pursued a career in event planning after her wedding and has planned many events in the Philadelphia area. Currently, she is a stay at home mom of two children, Gianna and Henry. Nadine continues to be passionate about her Armenian heritage and also about helping children in need. She is looking forward to help plan fundraising events for SOAR.
Silvia Manoukian was born in Michigan and raised there until she was 10 when her family moved to Southern California. She earned her bachelors degrees in Math and Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and her Master's in Math Education from Stanford University. While she was studying at Stanford, she attended Calvary Armenian Congregation Church in San Francisco where she met her husband, Dan Manoukian. Dan and Silvia have three children, ages 14, 12, and 10, and moved to the Philadelphia area recently due to Dan's job transfer. It is here that they became involved in the Armenian community via many avenues- Armenian Martyrs Congregational Church, AEWF, AEYF, and Meghry and they are so thankful for the East Coast Armenian community. Silvia is a Math Teacher in Lower Merion School District, resides with her family in Radnor, PA, and is thrilled to serve the Philadelphia SOAR chapter.
Suzy Rechelian has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA. She worked in pharmacy in Lankenau Hospital while decided to purse nursing. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Villanova University for Second Degree candidates. After graduation, she traveled to Armenia to see where her roots are from and everything changed from there. One of her most memorable moments were at Sister Arousiag's Our Lady of Armenia Center in Gyumri. She currently works in a Surgical Stepdown ICU in Lankenau Hospital. She lives in Broomall, PA.
Tania Selverian was born and raised in Northern New Jersey. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Pace University. She married Arthur Selverian in 1996 and moved to the Philadelphia area in 2001. They have 3 children; Victoria, Rebecca and Mark. Victoria is a graduate of the Armenian Sisters Academy and Rebecca and Mark are currently enrolled. Tania has been an active member in the Armenian community for many years through church and school organizations.
She has chaired the St. Gregory's Golf Committee for 10 years and also co- chaired the ASA POSH Gala for several years. Currently she continues to volunteer her time in the community. She is looking forward to having a positive impact on SOAR.