the meeting began with a comprehensive report from Karnig Kerkonian, Co-Chair of the Armenian Rights Watch Committee (ARWC). Mr. Kerkonian explained that, with the leadership of Co-Chair Garo Ghazarian, “The ARWC is a grassroots initiative which identifies transgressions against fundamental rights and then acts promptly to protect and promote their positions in civil society. Our mission is to stand and deliver a laser-like focus on human rights and civil rights violations in order to help ensure the enshrinement of a recognized and respected bill of rudimentary rights for our fellow citizens, both in Armenia and the Diaspora.” Following Mr. Kerkonian’s presentation, newly-appointed Mentor-Mentee Program director, Aleksan Giragosian, spoke of the success of the program and its goals for the future. The Mentor-Mentee report was followed by an update from Membership Committee Chairwoman Lucy Varpetian, who spoke of plans to enliven membership in the Armenian Bar Association and a report on the use of social media to promote communication with the organization’s membership. Association Treasurer Gerard Kassabian acknowledged and thanked the meeting’s sponsors: Mesrop Khoudagoulian, Tina Odjaghian, Golden State Bank, Judicate West, SillyBeez and Keush Ranch and gave the general assembly a breakdown of the Association’s budget and assets. The final report came from Armen K. Hovannisian, Chairman of the Armenian Genocide Reparations Committee (AGRC). Mr. Hovannisian shared that the AGRC committee members have been exploring and honing in on definitive stratagems involving an array of legal theories to address Genocide-related civil wrongs. Mr. Hovannisian stated “From our perspective, monetary settlements will bring only fleeting gratification to our cause and will do little to help heal our people’s open wounds. Our aim is to secure verdicts in courts of law against the Republic of Turkey and those who have profited from the great national dispossession of the Armenian homeland.” The meeting of the general membership then continued with the election and re-election of six board members, including: Christine Engustian, Garo Ghazarian, Armen K. Hovannisian, Vanna Kitsinian, Gary Moomjian and Lucy Varpetian. There was also unanimous approval of the amendment to the by-laws which will formalize the incorporation of the National Armenian Law Students Association as part of the Armenian Bar Association. The National ALSA will be given a representative seat on the board of governors. Professor Jessica Peake of the UCLA Promise Institute for Human Rights, which recently received a significant grant from the late Kirk Kerkorian’s philanthropic legacy, educated the guests about the purpose of the Institute and asked for the Armenian Bar Association and other community organizations to participate in the Institute’s work. The business meeting was followed by the first legal education panel on the current situation in the Republic of Artsakh and the work of its Human Rights Defender, Mr. Ruben Melikyan. In addition to Mr. Melikyan, the panel featured the expertise of Nora Hovsepian, the Chairwoman of the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region and Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Amy Ashvanian and was moderated by Asbarez English Editor Ara Khatchatourian. Together the panelists and moderator unveiled and explained the intricate and uplifting work of the Artsakh Human Rights Defender, the fallout from the Four Day War of April 2016, and the current situation facing the Armenians of Artsakh. Then came the Grand Luncheon. With the cadence and aplomb of a seasoned toastmaster, Karnig Kerkonian provided an entertaining and engaging introduction of his undergraduate roommate at Harvard University, the Honorable Justice of the California Supreme Court Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. Canvasing the crowd with soft and humorous touches of nostalgia set in Harvard Yard, Mr. Kerkonian reflected on their college days when Tino was introduced by Karnig to Armenian dance, music and other aspects of the Armenian culture. Mr. Kerkonian lightheartedly emphasized that Justice Cuéllar’s years since graduating from Harvard have been a quest in search of his “inner Armenian-ness.” Justice Cuéllar thanked Mr. Kerkonian for the best introduction he has ever had and provided the guests with a compelling address on the subject of the California courts and how it is incumbent on them to ensure that it is a judicial system that provides equal and unfettered access to justice for all. In the afternoon, Armenian Bar members were given an eye-opening opportunity to inform their knowledge and sharpen their skills with a frank and free-flowing exchange of perspectives from those who serve from behind the bench. Featured on the judicial panel were three highly-respected California jurists, Judge Andre Manssourian, Judge Maria Daghlian-Hernandez and Judge Gassia Apkarian. With artful and insightful interlocution, San Francisco-area star litigator Ara Jabagchourian served as moderator. The Executive Committee of the Board of Governors was selected at a Board Meeting on Saturday afternoon, during which the following officers were installed: Saro Kerkonian–Chairman, Kathy Ossian–Vice-Chairwoman, Gerard Kassabian–Treasurer, Vanna Kitsinian—Secretary, and Harry Dikranian of Montreal remains as Chairman Ex-Officio. The weekend’s activities concluded with a Saturday night dinner with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean at the popular BLK Earth Sea Spirits. At the conclusion of the conference, Armenian Bar Vice-Chairwoman, Kathy Ossian of Detroit, stated “Following on the heels of our successful Annual Meeting, we look forward with great anticipation to the coming year for our organization. We welcome you and invite you to participate as the Armenian Bar Association sets new milestones in the 2017-2018 year.” View the photo gallery by clicking here. View the meeting video and panel discussions by clicking here.