October 15, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – Over 200 supporters of the Near East Foundation (NEF) and its decades of relief work around the world gathered at the Museum of the City of New York last week for the opening of their latest exhibit “Near East/New York: The Near East Foundation and American Philanthropy,” documenting the unprecedented American humanitarian response to the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“Armenian Americans profoundly appreciate the tremendous relief efforts of the Near East Foundation during the Armenian Genocide, welcome the exhibit sharing this proud history with the people of New York, and look forward to supporting the vital relief work this important institution continues to implement today,” said ANCA Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian.

During the program at the opening reception on October 7th, NEF leaders, including Board of Directors Chairman Geoffrey Thompson and President Ryan LaHurd, welcomed the many supporters to the exhibit and cited the NEF’s continued philanthropic efforts around the world. LaHurd particularly highlighted the key role New Yorkers played in the first humanitarian aid project taken on by NEF – assisting survivors of the Armenian Genocide. “The roots of the Near East Foundation lie deep in the soil of the energy and creativity of New York City and the generous humanitarian spirit of Americans. NEF arose here in 1915 from a response to the tragic suffering of survivors, mostly women and orphaned children, of the Armenian genocide,” explained LaHurd. “Now close to a century later, NEF responds still – though to the needs of different people in different places – with the same sense of energy, and we still depend upon the generous support of Americans’ humanitarian spirit.”

The program also featured remarks by Armenian Friends of the NEF committee Chairman Antranig Sarkissian and Carnegie Corporation of New York President, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, who spoke movingly about the contributions of the NEF to American philanthropy. The NEF paid tribute to President emeritus Richard Robarts, for his decades of careful stewardship of NEF activities around the world throughout the 1980’s and ‘90s. Special guests for the evening, amongst others, included U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau’s grandson, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who commended the NEF for “getting back to its roots of helping the Armenians.”

Armenian American Organizations and Philathropists Make Exhibit a Reality
The “Near East/New York: The Near East Foundation and American Philanthropy” exhibit, which officially opened on October 4th and will run through December 7th, showcases never-before-seen photographs and objects from the NEF archives, chronicling the group’s 15 years of relief work helping Armenian orphans and refugees as a result of the first Genocide of the 20th century. Guest curator Neery Melkonian meticulously reviewed thousands of items to put together the exhibit, working in cooperation with staff from the NEF and the Museum of the City of New York.

The exhibit was funded through generous donations by Armenian organizations and individuals, including the Armenian Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Apostolic Church of America – Eastern Prelacy, Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, Inc, and the Diocese of the Armenian Church of American (Eastern US).

“We were pleased to have contributed to such a worthwhile effort to bring the story of the Near East Foundation – particularly their role in bringing relief to the survivors of the Armenian Genocide – to the people of New York City, while also helping to highlight, for Armenians and the general public, the outstanding humanitarian work that the Foundation continues to conduct around the world,” noted an ARS Eastern Representative.

Armenian Friends of the NEF: Honoring the Legacy of America’s First International Philanthropy
Founded just 15 months ago by a group of civic, religious and business leaders, the Armenian Friends of the NEF has worked with the Armenian American community to pay tribute to the founders and activists of Near East Relief and their efforts to help the hundreds of thousands of orphans and refugees upon the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. The exhibit is the first of a series of activities design to provide greater awareness and generate continued support for NEF’s worthwhile efforts around the world, as the organization approaches its 90th year of serving the needy.

During his remarks at the October 7th opening, NEF treasurer and Armenian Friends of the NEF Chairman Antranik Sarkissian explained, “Because of the Armenian community’s special historical relationship with NEF, the Committee decided to let the Foundation’s current archives explain its origins and mission, and most importantly, show that it was New Yorkers who first answered the call from Ambassador Henry Morgenthau in 1915 when Armenians were being massacred, decimated and dispersed.”

The Armenian Friends Committee includes H.E. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, H.E. Archbishop Manuel Batakian, H.E. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Carol Aslanian, Armen Garabedian, Boghos and Jeanette Der Ghazarian, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, Sona Hamalian, George Kassis, Onnic and Verkine Marashian, Shant Mardirosian, Antovk Pidedjian, Antranig and Varsenne Sarkissian, Vasken and Sossy Setrakian, Robert Haig Setrakian, and senior UN official Benon Vahe Sevan.

For more information about the exhibit and NEF’s current efforts, visit the Near East Foundation Website at Additional details on the exhibit may be found on the Museum of the City of New York website –


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
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