Ester Hakobyan, Head of Program at Children of Armenia Fund -Started professional career as a teacher of English at a secondary school and later on a professor at the Linguistic University (after graduating the Linguistic University with a major in English language). Between these two jobs defended a thesis in the theory of pedagogy and received a degree of a candidate of sciences. As part of the thesis research spent three months at the University of South Louisiana (U.S.) as an exchange visitor.
In 2000 became the recipient of the Edmund Muskie Scholarship and spent a year in the U.S. as a graduate student of Public Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburg. After return to Armenia in 2001 career evolved at the USAID/Armenia’s mission- first as Public Outreach Assistant and later as Monitoring/Evaluation specialist. In 2003 was distinguished as USAID’s best Foreign Service National of the year of the Europe and Eurasia Bureau.
Since 2006 was involved in the MCA-Armenia Program first as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and later as the Coordination Officer.
In 2008 participated in University of Stanford’s three week “Development, Democracy and Rule of Law” Program, while in 2009 spent 6 month at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy as a participant of the Armenia Certificate Program on International Business and Finance.
Following the completion of the MCA-Armenia Program in late 2011 was involved in short-term evaluation consultancy and in March 2012 joint the Children of Armenia Fund in the capacity if Head of Programs.
Raffi Joe Wartanian
Raffi Joe Wartanian is a Fulbright research fellow, multi-platform writer, musician, actor, and activist passionate about social justice, technology, innovation, strategic growth, health, and spiritual development. “Pushkin Street”, his debut album of eleven original “gypsy zest” songs, debuted in 2013. His music has appeared on the series "Tailgate 32", his poetry has appeared in Ararat Magazine, The Armenian Weekly, and The Armenian Poetry Project, and he has been commissioned to write original music and lyrics for award winning artist Eileen Khatchadourian. Before coming to Armenia, he worked as the first full-time volunteer coordinator at the International Rescue Committee’s Baltimore field office, a resettlement center extending health, housing, employment, legal, educational, language, and integration services to newly arrived refugees. He also published a report on the inconsistent codification of French “memory laws” with Humanity in Action. As an actor, he has appeared with Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco, Theater Hopkins in Baltimore, and with the Hamasdegh Theater Group aboard the 10th annual Armenian Heritage Cruise. A graduate of The Johns Hopkins University, Wartanian has twice bicycled across the United States to raise money and awareness for cancer research and prevention, hiked across Spain on the historic Camino de Santiago, built classrooms for deaf orphans in Kingston, Jamaica, distributed meals to Nicaraguan squatters in Costa Rica, planted trees in Lebanon, mentored at-risk youth in Gyumri, and helped mark portions of the Janapar trail in Nagorno Karabagh as a Birthright Armenia volunteer in 2007. Since arriving in Armenia, Wartanian has performed in village schools, community centers, and music clubs throughout the country. At a conference later this April, he will travel to Prague to discuss civic activism in Armenia alongside counterparts from throughout the post-soviet bloc. Among his current activites, Wartanian studies oud and flamenco guitar with teachers from Yerevan’s Komitas Conservatory of Music. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Armenian immigrants from Beirut, Lebanon where he spent most summers of his upbringing absorbing the eclectic and eccentric local Lebanese culture, and spending time with his grandparents, survivors of the Armenian genocide, along with extended family.
Marina Mkhitaryan is a media and development aid professional with more than 13 years experience managing media outlets, development programs and NGOs. Her strengths include program engineering skills (design, fundraising and management), knowledge of local and global media, technical writing, a strong scent for public relations and applied creativity.
Marina has a dual degree in Philology and Law from the Yerevan State University. She has also completed a mid-career course on International Law and Legal Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University, US). Marina is also a fellow of the John Smith leadership program and the European Alpbach Forum.
Currently she manages a portfolio of programs at Eurasia Partnership Foundation including those on Traditional and Alternative Media, Social Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility. Marina is also a sessional lecturer on “Negotiations” at the Faculty of Journalism of Yerevan State University and the Country Coordinator of the “Social Innovation Camps”.
Marina brings firsthand expertise and hands-on experience in media and communications; she began her career at the leading Armenian independent TV Company A1+, as news translator and editor of the World News Review program. In 2003, based on the strength of her PR and journalism experience, Marina was invited to create and lead a new English-Language newspaper, one of the first in the country. Marina was a board member of the Professionals for Civil Society NGO, the legacy NGO of the WorldLearning International and has experience as a trainer/lecturer in Communications, Negotiation, Leadership and Fundraising. Marina also provides freelance consulting on development and fundraising to NGOs and private companies in Armenia and the United States.
Kirk Wallace is the Programs’ Manager for the Armenian Environmental Network (AEN) operating out of Yerevan. AEN’s primary mission is to provide on-the-ground information on environmental issues to the Armenian Diaspora. Pursuant to this responsibility Kirk has been involved in a variety of social movements including the Mashtots Park and Teghut Mine protests. Kirk is also responsible for developing and implementing Armenia’s first Integrated Waste Management Program (IWMP) which began in August of this year in the Shamshadin region of Tavush marz. The IWMP will culminate with the construction of the country’s first appropriate technology regional sanitary landfill. Prior to joining AEN Kirk taught high school history and government in the Clark County School District, in Las Vegas, Nevada. . As a classroom teacher Kirk co-founded and directed the nationally recognized educational program known as the Partnership at Las Vegas High School (PAL Program). The PAL Program was an innovative experiential worked based internship program involving high school juniors and seniors. Kirk’s responsibilities included liaising with over 100 private businesses, non-profit organizations and government institutions in developing appropriate internship experiences.