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SOAR - Boston Chapter

PO Box 35914
Brighton, MA 02135
boston@soar-us.org


In February 2009, SOAR launched a New England Chapter, whose territory included Boston, MA, Providence, RI, and Portland, ME. As SOAR has grown during the past several years, we found it necessary to create separate Chapters in Boston, Portland, and Providence. Watertown is a major center of the Armenian diaspora, with the third-largest Armenian community in the United States. With an Armenian population of approximately 7,500, Watertown ranks only behind the California cities of Glendale and Fresno. Watertown is also the venue for the publication of long-running Armenian newspapers, including the Armenian Mirror-Spectator and Armenian Weekly.


SOAR-Boston oversees the Girls' Empowerment Program with SOAR-Berlin


***See what our chapter has been doing***



Board of Directors:



Talin Ucuzian Bekelian
President

Talin Ucuzian Bekelian was born in Istanbul, Turkey and moved to Boston with her family at the age of 12. She attended Northeastern University and earned a B.S. degree in Economics. She has been very active and involved in the Armenian community starting with ACYOA-Watertown Chapter at the St. James Armenian Church along with the Armenian Sisters Academy located in Lexington, for their fundraising efforts, while her two daughters were attending the school in the late 90’s. She lives in Belmont with her husband Kevork and their two daughters, Karina and Liana. Currently employed at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge hotel for the past 25 years. She was introduced to SOAR by a friend and had the chance to visit an orphanage during a trip to Armenia in 2010.



Aida Gevorgyan
Vice President

Aida Gevorgyan has several years of progressive executive experience in child rights and development fields, including many years of managing internationally funded programs, large budgets and teams of professional staff in Armenia and other countries. Aida was the National Program Manager of Save the Children USA in Armenia for about 6 years and has a good understanding of the Armenian reality and trends. She holds Master Degrees in International Relations form the Yerevan State University and in Human Rights law from the University of Essex, UK. Currently she is taking HR Management courses towards MBA in Harvard Business School.



Tanya Ucuzian
Treasurer

Tanya was born in Istanbul, Turkey and migrated to the Unites States in 1976. She has a BS in Business Administration from Northeastern University and has been working in the Insurance industry as a Finance professional for over 20 years. Tanya has always wanted to volunteer for a children’s organization and SOAR was the perfect fit when she learned of it through her sister, Talin Bekelian. Tanya lives in Watertown with her daughter, Lara.






Aline KerlopianAline Kerlopian
Secretary

Pic and Bio coming soon







Richard (Dick) Simonian, Esq.
Executive Board Advisor

Richard M. Simonian has an A.B. from Harvard College, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and a Certificate in French Studies from the University of Paris. He resides in Watertown, MA, and has practiced corporate, commercial and real estate law in Boston and Worcester, MA for more than 35 years. During the past 10 years he has made multiple trips to the orphanages of Armenia. He is involved with SOAR because he recognizes that the orphans of Armenia are among the most vulnerable individuals in Armenia today.





Missy Giragosian
Event Planner

Bio coming soon







Cheryl Ourfalian Smith
Co-Chairperson

Cheryl Ourfalian Smith was born and raised in Watertown Massachusetts, she attended Suffolk University and earned a B.S. in Computer Information Systems. Cheryl worked in the private sector for over 10 years prior to starting her family. Recently, she has returned to working part time at the Armenia Tree Project in Watertown. She first learned about Soar in 2007 when she and her family traveled to Armenia to adopt their youngest daughter. Her whole family is grateful to have the opportunity to be able to give back and help the orphaned children of Armenia. Cheryl lives with her husband Larry and daughters Jacqueline and Karina just outside of Boston. Cheryl also donates her time at St Stephens Armenian Apostolic Church as a Sunday School Teacher.




Theresa Nibi
Event Coordinator

Theresa joined the board of the SOAR Boston chapter after she met SOAR founder George Yacoubian at a reunion of families who adopted from Armenia. Theresa adopted her daughter from Armenia in 2011 and traveled to Yerevan twice during the adoption process. She was greatly impressed with the quality of the care provided at the orphanages she visited. However, Theresa knew she wanted to get involved to help provide more for the children living in them, particularly the special needs children and the “social orphans” who are not available for adoption and may spend their entire childhood in an orphanage. She is thankful to have the opportunity to do this through SOAR and its trusted network of partners. In addition to serving on the SOAR board, Theresa is a proud sponsor of two children in Armenia through the SOAR Sponsorship Program.

After adopting her daughter, Theresa became a stay-at-home mom and dabbles as a part-time real estate developer. Before that, Theresa had over 25 years of experience in private equity, working with middle market companies in the capacity of lead investor and board member. In 2003, Theresa co-founded Bunker Hill Capital, a lower middle market private equity firm based in Boston, and worked as Managing Partner there until 2011. Prior to founding Bunker Hill Capital, Theresa was a Managing Director at BancBoston Capital, the private equity affiliate of Bank of Boston (now Bank of America). Theresa holds an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a M.B.A. with highest honors (obtained part-time) from Boston University's Graduate School of Management.



Adelina Keshishian
Director of Communications

Adelina is the first in her family to be born in the U.S. Her parents and three older sisters immigrated to Malden, MA just north of Boston where Adelina was born and raised. A recent college undergraduate, Adelina graduated from Bentley University with a Management degree, entrepreneurship concentration and a minor in marketing. In the community she has volunteered with the OpenWounds1915 movement, and with the Massachusetts Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee helping shape the vision of the program that was executed. She is also a recipient for the Birthright Armenia program and will travel to Armenia for 100 days in April of 2018. She has a strong interest in mentorship roles and will assist our Berlin chapter in developing SOAR’s Girls Empowerment Program along with sitting in on the courses remotely when they are administered.



Tatevik Zohrabyan
Progam Administrator

Tatevik was born and raised in Armenia. After the completion of her undergraduate studies in Finance at the Armenian Agricultural Academy, she came to the United States to pursue her Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. Upon graduation, she returned to Armenia and held various positions at NGOs and private sector companies. Tatevik also spent nearly five years teaching at the American University of Armenia and the Agribusiness Teaching Center. Currently she is pursuing an MBA degree at MIT.

During my time in Armenia, Tatevik met Natalie Bryant, a former Peace Corps volunteer. She started Warm Hearth NGO to help orphans with disabilities. Tatevik started volunteering at Warm Hearth and was moved by the residents’ excitement when someone visited, barely able to resist bursting into tears. This was a major turning point for her to seek for opportunities to help orphans as much as she could. Tatevik went beyond volunteering in Armenia and sponsored a child in Sierra Leone. She found that helping someone, especially an orphan, not only helps them, but also gives her a piece of mind: an ultimate source of fulfillment and purpose in life.

When Tatevik was contacted by George Yacoubian, she was so thrilled to get on board and support such a great cause. She hopes one day there will no longer be orphans and all the children will experience the beauty of life.



Marina Arakelian, LICSW

Marina Arakelian, LICSW is a graduate of Columbia University, School of Social Work and a graduate of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York where she received a certificate to practice Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Her clinical experience includes working in acute, inpatient psychiatric settings at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the New York Cornell Payne Whitney Psychiatric Center to the Brigham and Women's Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic. She has been in private practice since 1996.

Areas of special interest include the psychological and developmental sequelae following childhood trauma/loss. Marina is a certified Grief Recovery therapist and took part in a collective effort made up of the New York City mental health community in working with survivors of the 911 World Trade Center Disaster.



Karina BekelianKarina Bekelian

Pic and Bio coming soon







Lisa Menasian Colloca

Lisa Menasian Colloca, a Massachusetts native, earned her B.A. in History & Secondary Education as well as her M.A. in History from Boston College. Lisa considers teaching a vocation and has devoted most of her career to teaching Advanced Placement History in a large, urban high school in Massachusetts.

The granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors, Lisa belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church and was introduced to SOAR by a friend while on a church pilgrimage to Armenia with her parents in 2009. In 2017, Lisa and her husband traveled to Armenia to adopt their son. Lisa cherishes her family and resides North of Boston with her husband, Robert, and two children. After seeing first hand the contributions that SOAR has made to many orphanages in Armenia, Lisa is committed to supporting SOAR’s mission of helping others.



Robert Colloca

Robert Colloca a New Jersey native, graduated with a B.S. in Pharmacy from St. John’s University. Robert has worked in the Pharmacy Industry for over 25 years and is currently employed as a Sr. Clinical Account Executive with Express Scripts. He recently completed his MBA in Health Care Management. Robert was introduced to the Armenian culture in 2010 when he met his wife Lisa. He now resides North of Boston with Lisa and their two children.

Robert has a passion for life and family and has embraced the Armenian culture. He has since traveled to Armenia on two occasions, where he had the opportunity to visit one of the orphanages that SOAR so generously supports. In 2017, Robert traveled to Armenia with his wife Lisa to adopt their son. Robert feels strongly about supporting the mission of helping orphans in Armenia.



Garo SafaianGaro Safaian

Pic and Bio coming soon







Saro SafaianSaro Safaian

Pic and Bio coming soon







Katie Van Adzin

Katie Van Adzin is an editor with experience working in technology, media, and publishing. A Boston native, she graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and German studies. In addition to her work with SOAR, Katie is an active member of the Armenian Business Network, and has worked previously with the Armenian Weekly, the Armenian Relief Society, and the Armenia Tree Project. She and her family live in East Arlington.