October 30, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC — Participants in the Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) Capital Gateway Program have been hard at work in the nation’s capital this fall, looking to enter the public policy establishment while joining in nationwide efforts in support of the Armenian Genocide resolution (H.Res.106).

Astine Suleimanyan, a graduate in Women’s Studies from University of California at Irvine and Daniel Stepanian-Bennett, a graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Oakland University, are two of the most recent Capital Gateway program participants. Both share a deep passion for policymaking, with Suleimanyan focused on civic and human rights and Stepanian-Bennett on political marketing. “I realized early on that I wanted to come to DC after graduating college. The Capital Gateway Program provided the perfect opportunity,” says Suleimanyan, who is currently interning for the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC).

Both Suleimanyan and Stepanian-Bennett participated last week in the H.Res.106 Advocacy Days, which brought some 100 activists from across the U.S. to Washington DC in support of passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Stepanian-Bennett accompanied a delegation of his fellow constituents from Michigan in meetings with several offices on Capitol Hill, including Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), and Tim Wallberg (R-MI). “To be able to take part in the ANCA Advocacy Days was a great opportunity to not only advance Armenian Genocide legislation, but also to network with people and get a greater understanding of how Capitol Hill actually works,” explained Stepanian-Bennett, who is the current Hovig Apo Saghdejian Memorial Fellow.

Joining Suleimanyan and Stepanian-Bennett is Varteni Kassabian, a practicing attorney from Greece, who is conducting a three-month research fellowship at the ANCA focusing on legal remedies to crimes against humanity and the impact of the UN Genocide Convention. “As a part of this program, I have been able to fully utilize a multitude of resources as a basis for my research. The ANCA staff are extremely beneficial, providing me with the information, tools, and resources needed to complete my studies,” explained Kassabian.

With the successful passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on October 10th, the fellows found themselves in the center of activity to bring the resolution to the House floor. In addition to the H.Res.106 Advocacy Days, all three participated in Committee hearings, phone banking drives, Congressional visits, and grassroots outreach efforts aimed at achieving support for this key human rights legislation.

A formal reception welcoming the fellows to DC was held in early October, allowing the new participants to meet past Capital Gateway fellows and interact with various professionals and ANCA supporters who have established themselves in the Washington policy arena.

The ANCA Capital Gateway Program

Launched in August 2003, through a generous donation from the Cafesjian Family Foundation, the ANCA Capital Gateway Program assists Armenian Americans across the U.S. in exploring job opportunities in government, the media, and think tanks in Washington, D.C. The program builds on the successful 23-year old ANCA “Leo Sarkisian” summer internship program, which has brought hundreds of youth leaders to Washington, D.C. to learn about the American political process and the growing role Armenian Americans play in advancing a broad range of advocacy issues.

Qualified Capital Gateway Program Fellows are provided free housing and full use of ANCA facilities and staff support in their quest for the right job or internship in the Nation’s Capital. More than 40 participants in the program have secured positions in a myriad of locations including with Members of Congress, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Export-Import Bank, Congressional Quarterly, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Over the years, the Capital Gateway Program has benefited tremendously from the generosity of donors committed to creating public service opportunities for young Armenian Americans. The leading financial contributor to the Program has been the family of Hovig Apo Saghdejian, a 23-year old youth leader and community activist from Fresno, California, who lost his life in 2004 in a tragic car accident. His family established the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Memorial Fund in Hovig’s memory. These funds are held in perpetuity, with all their income being used to finance the participation of young Armenian Americans in the Capital Gateway Program.

In addition to the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Fellowship, the Capital Gateway program has received substantial support from longtime ANCA benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Barbara Hekimian and the Armenian American Veterans Post of Milford, Massachusetts (AAVO). Founded in 1946 by returning veterans of World War II and later expanded to include veterans of the Korean War, the AAVO has been a devoted contributor to community organizations and projects. They have been recognized for their generosity in newspapers, official proclamations, and through the appreciation of the many recipients of their humanitarian gifts.

To access an application or receive more information about the program, prospective candidates can visit and click on the “Capital Gateway” link or call (202) 775-1918 and ask for Serouj Aprahamian. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Astine Suleimanyan
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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