February 22, 2022 marks a milestone anniversary for AGBU and its esteemed leader Berge Setrakian, who assumed the presidency of the world’s largest Armenian non-profit 20 years ago.
Reflecting on the past two decades, in addition to the 25 years he previously served as a member of our Central Board, we can unequivocally state that Mr. Setrakian has cemented his role in AGBU history as a powerhouse of inspired action—a pioneering, enterprising Armenian whose dedicated service to our organization can be likened to a calling rather than a choice.
Many who are privileged to know and work with him in the arduous process of governing a century-old multinational institution have observed that—despite his worldly success and meritorious professional achievements—his life purpose is embodied in the mission of AGBU.
A fierce proponent of the ethos of our AGBU founders that “in unity is strength,” Mr. Setrakian is always seeking ways to empower the Armenian Nation through shared visions and goals, bridging different generations and worldviews. To this end, he has taken bold steps to deepen our presence and impact in Armenia and Artsakh, always maintaining that the destinies of the Diaspora and Homeland are entwined. He is also resolute in supporting and promoting the Armenian Church as the bedrock of the Armenian Nation. As such, he has spearheaded many initiatives to preserve and promote the relevance of the Church in the course of Armenian affairs, historically and spiritually.
A natural born leader, Mr. Setrakian has enthusiastically supported the personal and professional development of our youth. As one of the youngest members in AGBU history to be elected to our board of directors, he has helped ensure that the Armenian world is endowed with well-prepared leaders with the skills and confidence to give back to their communities just as he has.
Since taking office as president, Mr. Setrakian has been challenged with the complexities of globalization and geopolitics and encouraged an evolution in how we engage Armenians in meaningful activities that enrich their identity, honor their heritage, and serve the Armenian people. Yet even technological advancements in communications are no match for Mr. Setrakian’s preference to connect in person with our constituencies and beneficiaries across our worldwide network. By visiting them in their own environments, he is better able to assess their priorities and coordinate our resources to more equitably touch and transform lives. As a result, our 60 chapters and districts continue to thrive as incubators of the Armenian identity, drivers of Armenian culture, and first responders when crises or disasters impact individuals and families on the ground.
Always prepared to shoulder the heavy burdens in times of need, Mr. Setrakian has led us through several daunting crises afflicting Armenians in Syria, Armenia, Artsakh, Lebanon and elsewhere. Ever resourceful, he confers with world leaders to advocate for our people while mobilizing Armenians for global fundraising campaigns that often generate multimillions in donations within a few days. This has enabled us to rapidly equip local chapters and volunteers with the resources to deliver urgent relief to those in harm’s way.
Today, we wish to publicly express our immense gratitude to you, Berge, for your bold thinking, principled integrity, and clear-sighted grasp of the challenges and opportunities that inform our strategies and solutions to uplift Armenians around the world. With your highly sophisticated understanding of the world and keen appreciation of the legacy of your predecessors, you came to this office as the right leader at the right time to guide our organization to new and unimagined heights.
We sincerely applaud you for uniting us around this noble mission and for sharing your time, wisdom and perspective gained over the better part of your life. We also wish to acknowledge Vera Setrakian, your steadfast partner on this consequential journey that the two of you began many years ago as ardent champions of AGBU. Congratulations on this important milestone in your exemplary life story and the history of our organization.