SOAR - New York Chapter

The New York Chapter became part of the SOAR family in April 2013 and encompasses the five boroughs of New York City. The history of Armenians in New York City dates back to 1834 when Khachadur Osganian arrived from the Ottoman Empire. Osganian, with a Protestant missionary education, came to New York to study at the newly established New York University. In 1841 the first immigrants from Armenia began arriving in New York. Over the course of the next few decades, thousands of others came settling mostly in New York (and Massachusetts). Unlike most other ethnic minorities who settled across the city and relocated fairly frequently, Armenians, and other Eastern Mediterranean people, settled in the southern tip of New York (known today as the Financial District). This area soon became known as the Syrian Quarter dominated by Syrian and Lebanese Christians, as well as Armenians. Today, New York City is home to approximately 40,000 Armenians.

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Board of Directors:

Celine Zakaryan

Celine's primary motivation for joining SOAR is to assist one of Armenia's most vulnerable groups. As a descendant of (at least) five orphaned Genocide survivors, she understands the positive impact of SOAR.

She holds a Master's degree in Public Policy and Public Administration. She currently resides in NYC and works for city government.

Ruben Stepanian

Ruben Stepanian has bachelor's degree in accounting and computer information systems and a law degree from the Hofstra University School of Law. He is in private practice in New York, focusing on family law and personal injury law. Ruben is married and has a daughter who was born in 2012. He is very committed to helping underprivileged children.

Naira Aslanian

Naira Aslanian has obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics/Econometrics. She’s a Project Manager at a market research and consulting firm, responsible for numerous reports and consultation projects across the beauty and personal care industry. Naira is regularly quoted and interviewed by various magazine publications and is considered an expert on beauty and personal care markets.

Naira draws over a decade of experience managing global projects and providing business advise to global multinational corporation in driving change on a local and global basis.

Steve Gokberk

Steve Gokberk was born and raised in New York. He has his bachelor’s degree in legal studies and his law degree from St. John’s University. While in law school, he worked for a non-for-profit organization, assisting victims of domestic violence in family law related matters. Presently, he is in private practice litigating a variety of personal injury and medical malpractice matters throughout New York state. Steve has volunteered as a child mentor through the Nassau County Bar Association.

Helena Mirzoyan

Helena graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, majoring in Global Environment and Health, and minoring in Musicology.

Currently, Helena works as an IT project manager at a leading technology company where she manages mobile, apps, tablet, and API services projects. She is also an Armenian school teacher at St. Vartan Cathedral Saturday School, where she teaches first grade.

Helena is fluent in English, Russian and Armenian and has basic knowledge of Arabic.

John Harold Murachanian

John was born and raised on the New Jersey Shore, attending public schools. He graduated from Long Branch High School class of 79. After graduation, John went to work for a publicly traded chemical company in 1985 until 2015. He was the top salesman six times for a company that had 1500 sales agents around the globe. John studied sales and marketing with various gurus through the years later starting his own company in 2014, Jem Industrial Services Inc, with his son. John organized and ran two benefits for a friend who had fallen ill and raised $45,000.00.

For fun, John has been playing drums since he was 3 years old. Having recorded various cds and albums for independent artists, he currently heads up the ASAP band which does corporate events, gala balls, and weddings . He has also studied and trained various martial arts styles.

John has 2 children, John, age 24 and, Amanda, age 22. He currently resides in Wall Township, NJ.

Luiza Oganesian

Luiza Oganesian was born in Armenia and raised in New York, speaking Russian and English fluently. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelors Degree in Family and Child Studies, Concentration in Child Life and Minor in Russian.

Luiza is currently a Child Life Therapist for Pediatric Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, primarily providing services to Neuroblastoma, Neuro Oncology and Retinoblastoma diagnosis. She is passionate about working with children and families confronted with acute, chronic and terminal illness and extends her compassion to help fundraise for the relief of underprivileged children.

Sylvia Ohanyan

After earning her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Elon University, Sylvia spent four months volunteering in Armenia through the program Birthright Armenia. Upon her return to the US, she completed her Master’s in International Education at NYU. She is currently focused on starting a career in international development, concentrating on cross-cultural understanding and girls’ education initiatives.

Anna Petrosyan

Anna was born in Gyumri, Armenia, but her family moved to Moscow when she was 5 years old. In 2016 Anna graduated from Moscow State University of International Relations and is now pursuing her Master's degree in International Finance at Columbia University. Volunteering has played a major role in her life. She has been involved in various volunteer activities since the age of 14 and once she came to realize what a superpower volunteering is, she couldn't stay away. From organizing recycling drives in a country that has no societal understanding of environmental protection, to starting an English club for unprivileged middle-school children at the Russian State library, Anna tried to get involved however she could. Now as a part of SOAR, Anna would like to make a change in her home country.


Raffi Azadian

Raffi Azadian is the CEO of Azadian Group LLC, a boutique investment banking firm which he founded in 2003. AzadianGroup provides debt and equity financing and M&A advisory services to middle-market businesses. Prior to founding Azadian Group, Raffi spent over 13 years in technology and venture capital. He spent 2.5 years as North American Director of a software division of Siemens AG, and was an investor, founder or early member of a number of successful, venture-backed start-ups, primarily focused on enterprise software and services. Raffi graduated from New York University, majoring in Economics and Organizational Behavior & Communications. He currently resides in New York City with his wife and two young boys.