Samuel Hekemian has purchased and developed residential and commercial properties of the highest quality and, in the process, has attained an outstanding reputation among his peers and in the financial community. As Chairman and President of the S. Hekemian Group (SHG), he continues his significant contributions in such areas as property acquisition, site design, land approval, and land development. Prior to founding SHG, Samuel served as President of Hekemian & Co., where he played a critical role in the formation and growth of the First Real Estate Investment Trust of New Jersey, a REIT publicly traded under the symbol FREVS.
In addition to Samuel’s career achievements in residential and commercial real estate, he served on a number of charitable and community organizations including the Hackensack University Medical Center and the Armenian Presbyterian Church. When Samuel was President of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, he strived
to spread the word of Christ to countries in need of spirituality. He also worked hard to bring together the various committees within the Armenian Missionary Association of America to help them reach mutually agreed upon organizational goals.
Family is as important to Samuel as his career and philanthropic achievements. Sam is married to Sandra and has four sons, Peter, Jeffrey, Richard and Mark. He also has two grandsons, Jake and Christian, and three granddaughters, Jersey, Juliet and Gwyneth.
George Bezirganian, M.D.
President 1982-1984, 1987-1988
Born in Beirut on February 4, 1928, Dr. George Bezirganian attended the Armenian Evangelical Elementary and High School before receiving his MD degree at the American University of Beirut in 1953. For six years he served as a Staff Physician in three different hospitals: the Christian Medical Center in Beirut; the Southern Baptist Mission Hospital in Ajloun, Jordan; and the Presbyterian Mission Hospital in Tripoli, Lebanon. He married Mary Pauline Bezirganian (no relation) in1958 and emigrated to the United States, where he completed an internship in Chicago followed by a residency at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. From 1963 until his retirement in 1991 (and move to Falls Church, VA), he practiced Psychiatry at the Middletown Psychiatric Center, serving as Deputy Clinical Director. The Bezirganians raised three children: John, a Psychiatrist in Ithaca, NY; Carol, a Psychiatrist in Fairfax, VA; and Steve, a Trade Analyst at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and have four grandchildren. John and Carol have recently served as AMAA Board Members.
Dr. Bezirganian became involved in the Armenian Missionary Association of America in 1960 during Reverend Tovmassian’s tenure as Executive Director. Over the ensuing years, he participated in the Personnel, Bylaws, Finance and Executive Committees, completed numerous terms on the Board of Directors, and served as Vice President in 1960-61 during Dr. D.Y. Kassouny’s Presidency. During Dr. Bezirganian’s first presidential term (1982-84), the Armenian Missionary Association of Canada was established. During his second term (1987-88), Rev. Dr. G.H. Chopourian retired after 18 years of dedicated service as Executive Director and was succeeded by Rev. Movses Janbazian.
He has always considered it a great privilege to serve the AMAA in any capacity and urges others to do the same, and to pray that God will continue to bless the AMAA.
Albert Momjian, Esq.
For many decades, Albert Momjian has faithfully served the Armenian Missionary Association of America, sitting on its Board of Directors, acting as its Solicitor, and serving as its President from 1993-1997. A long-time Trustee of the Stephen Philibosian Foundation, Albert is also a lifetime Trustee of Haigazian University, having served as its Solicitor and Chairman. He has also been very active in the Armenian Evangelical World Council, serving as its Treasurer for many years. In addition, for more than a generation, Albert has worked on behalf of the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian Sisters Academy, serving as Solicitor and on the Boards of both organizations.
A nationally renowned family lawyer, Albert is regarded as the Dean of the Pennsylvania family law bar. After practicing law for more than 50 years, he retired from private practice in 2013. The author of hundreds of articles on family law, Albert’s landmark treatise, Pennsylvania Family Law, is frequently cited by Pennsylvania courts.
Albert has also served as Honorary Consul to the Republic of Haiti, coming to the aid of the country and its expatriates, especially following the devastating 2010 earthquake. In addition, Albert’s relief efforts were responsible for raising over half a million dollars to aid the survivors of the earthquake that struck Armenia in 1988.
Albert earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Columbia University, and he is a recipient of the Columbia University Alumni Medal for Distinguished Service. Albert and his wife, Esther, have been married for 55 years. They have three adult children, Carol, Mark and Thomas (all lawyers), and are the proud grandparents of five grandsons.
Andy Torigian has been an integral part of the Armenian Missionary Association of America since he was appointed to the AMAA Investment Committee forty three years ago. Andy became a member of the AMAA Board for six three-year terms, Treasurer for two years, Vice President for four years, and President for nine years. He served as the AMAA Executive Director for eight years. As Executive Director, Andy negotiated the purchase of the former US Embassy building in Yerevan to be the AMAA’s headquarters in Armenia and the mother church of the Evangelical Church of Armenia. As Executive Director, Andy inaugurated the first Capital Fundraising Campaign for the AMAA held in fifty years, and raised $11,500,000.
A New Yorker by birth, Andy earned degrees in both Psychology and Engineering from NYU. During World War II, Andy was a fighter pilot in the US Navy Air Corps, serving two years on active duty and six years in the Air Corps Reserve. He has been married to the former Rose Moomjy for forty six years, has three children, Catherine, a Ph.D., Drew and Christine, both M.D.s, and three grandchildren.
Andy has given his time to many other organizations. He served five years on the Paramus Planning Board, is a Past Master of the Freemasons, President of the Paramus Veterans’ Council for four terms, and served for twenty years as Commander of American Legion Post 207. He served for seventeen years on the Board of Haigazian University in Lebanon and for twelve years on the Board of the Hovnanian School.
Andy’s overriding dedication to Armenian causes is also reflected in his three terms as Commander of the Knights of Vartan. From 2006 to the present day, Andy has held the post of President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Home for the Aged in Emerson, NJ. He remains an active member of the Armenian Presbyterian Church and several times a year takes on the duties of worship leader.
Hrair Steven Aharonian, M.D.
Dr. Hrair Steven Aharonian was educated in Beirut, Lebanon. He received his M.D. from the American University of Beirut, and came to the United States in 1970 for specialization in Gastroenterology, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. He and his wife Julie moved to Northridge, CA in 1975, where he joined the Facey Medical Group. Besides his medical practice, he assumed multiple administrative roles, becoming the President of the Group, its Medical Director, and on forming a Not-for Profit management entity, the Facey Medical Foundation, its CEO. He retired from FMG in 2000. Since then he has been a consultant to Medical Groups, Hospitals, and Insurers.
Dr. Aharonian has been a Board member of the Armenian Missionary Association of America for the past twenty years. He was the Co-Chair of its first Armenia Committee, served as Vice President, and subsequently as the President 2005-2011. Highlights of his term of office included the expansion of the Evangelical churches in Armenia, the purchase and relocation of the Administrative offices in Yerevan, purchases of the Hankavan Summer Camp, and the land for the Avedisian School. He was also involved in the purchase and renovation of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Brussels, Belgium.
Since 2012, he serves the AMAA as the Co-Chair of the Europe Committee, and as a member of the Audit, Budget and Finance, and the Investment Committees. for the past seventeen years he has served on the Board of Haigazian University.
The Aharonians are members of the United Armenian Congregational Church of North Hollywood, CA, and have two sons, Diran and Vahe. He considers it a pleasure and privilege to be part of the AMAA.
Joseph Zeronian, Ed.D.
Joseph Zeronian, Ed.D. is a native Californian having grown up in Venice, California and currently resides in Pasadena. His father and maternal grandfather were immigrants, arriving in the United States in 1904 and 1888, respectively, from villages near Kharpert. Joe grew up and served in the Gethsemane Armenian Congregational Church which became the UACC and he was elected the first Moderator in 1963. He is married to the former Marilyn Tangairian and has two children and four grandchildren—all of whom live in Pasadena.
Joe is a graduate of the University of Southern California and has spent his entire career in activities centered on the public schools of California. Following graduation in 1958, he served as a commissioned officer in the U. S. Navy, and began teaching in 1961 in Pasadena and continued his education earning advanced degrees. He eventually served as the Chief Business Officer for the Pasadena and La Canada schools in the 1970s and as Interim Superintendent in Pasadena in 1984-5 prior to a career change which led him into municipal investment banking. As a banker, Joe assisted over 115 California school districts with bond financing for facilities and equipment.
In 2000, he was asked to return to education and was appointed Chief Financial Officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S., where he served for four years prior to retirement. Believing that there is a great need for qualified school business officials, following retirement, Joe joined the Rossier School of Education at USC as a Clinical Associate Professor to direct the School Business Management Certificate Program and has worked to expand this important program throughout California since that time.
Joe has served as an Armenian Missionary Association of America Board member off and on since 1991, and has served as Recording Secretary and Vice President. He is now completing his third year as President of the AMAA.
Dr. Nazareth Darakjian
Dr. Nazareth Darakjian was born in Aleppo, Syria. At the age of 13 his family moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where he graduated from the Armenian Evangelical College. He continued his education at the American University of Beirut (AUB), receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1974 before entering the AUB Medical School. In 1976, escalations in the civil war in Lebanon forced him and his family to emigrate to Chicago. There, he continued his medical education at Loyola University School of Medicine and received his M.D. Cum Laude in 1978. He was also inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honor Society. He further carried out his postgraduate studies in Ophthalmology, again at Loyola University of Chicago. In 1982 Dr. Darakjian moved to Southern California, where he started a private practice specializing in diseases and surgery of the eye.
Dr. Darakjian is an active member of the United Armenian Congregational Church, Los Angeles. For many years he has served on the Board of Directors of the Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School of Sherman Oaks, Calif., as Treasurer. Currently he is the Chairman of the Dilijan Chamber Music Series, associated with the Lark Musical Society of Glendale, Calif. Dr. Darakjian has been serving on the AMAA Board for several year, most recently as its Vice President. He is also a member of several AMAA Committees.
Dr. Nazareth Darakjian is married to Dr. Ani Darakjian and they have two sons, Haig and Ara.