Mayor of Glendale, California.
Former U.S. Mayor To Manage Armenia’s Ties With Diaspora
Հունիս 14, 2019
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Friday appointed the Armenian-born former mayor of Glendale, a city in Los Angeles County, as head of a newly formed government division tasked with coordinating Armenia’s relations with its worldwide Diaspora.
Pashinian created the post of “commissioner general of Diaspora affairs” after abolishing the Ministry of Diaspora as part of a recent restructuring of the Armenian government. The first commissioner, Zareh Sinanyan, will have a 25-member staff.
Sinanyan, 43, was born in Soviet Armenia and lived there until emigrating to the United States with his family in 1988. He served as mayor of Glendale, a city with a sizable ethnic Armenian population, from 2014-2015 and 2018. Sinanyan resigned from the Glendale city council last week ahead of his anticipated appointment to the new government position in Yerevan.
A vocal critic of Armenia’s former government, Sinanyan strongly supported last year’s “velvet revolution” which brought Pashinian to power. In a May 2018 interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, he suggested that many Diaspora Armenians will be ready to move to their ancestral homeland after the revolution.
“We must change our policy towards the Diaspora and make it more effective,” Pashinian told Sinanyan when they met later on Friday. He said his government will seek to increase the Diaspora’s involvement in Armenia’s economic, social and even political life.
“You are not an unknown figure in Armenia and the Diaspora, and I think that there is a good chance that we will accomplish our new tasks set in the new era,” added Pashinian.
Sinanyan spoke, for his part, of “huge potential” for the Diaspora’s closer ties with Armenia as well as Nagorno-Karabakh.
Early life and education
Zareh Sinanyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia, in 1973 and attended the local school No. 172. His father was born in Istanbul, Turkey and settled in Armenia in 1946. His mother is from Talin.
He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1988 and settled in Burbank, California. Sinanyan attended the John Muir Middle School in Burbank and went on to graduate from Burbank High School. In 1997 he earned a Bachelor's Degrees in Political Science and History in 1997 at University of California, Los Angeles. He then attended law school at the University of Southern California, where he obtained his Juris Doctor. While in law school, Sinanyan worked for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and interned for Justice Earl Johnson of the California Court of Appeal. After his graduation from law school, he entered civil litigation service and ran his own law office.
Sinanyan was appointed to the Parks, Recreation and Community Service's Commission of Glendale in 2006 and held this position until 2008. He served as chairman to the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee from 2009 to 2011. He was also a commissioner to the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee from 2008 to 2013.
Sinanyan ran for one of three Glendale City Council seats in the April 2013 election and finished third out of twelve candidates. He is the first Armenian-born politician to hold a seat on the Glendale City Council. At his second City Council meeting, he publicly apologized for "racial and homophobic slurs" he had posted online for several years before the election.
In July 2013 Sinanyan supported the establishment of a memorial to Korean comfort women in the Glendale Central Park, over the objections of the government of Japan and dozens of Japanese-Americans. Sinanyan spoke at the unveiling of the memorial in late July, citing his own background as the grandson of an Armenian Genocide survivor and asserting: "The best way to resolve conflicts...the best way to heal wounds...is to acknowledge them. My people, my grandfather, were subjected to a horrible, horrible crime...To this day, because no apology has come, no proper acknowledgement has come...the wound is deep, it's festering, and there can be no moving forward without it". Mayor
In April 2014, Sinanyan was appointed mayor of Glendale, California replacing former mayor Dave Weaver.
In November 2014 Sinanyan and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti were among the California politicians invited to attend the opening of a BBCN representative office in Seoul, South Korea. Sinanyan also met with Lee Koon-hyon, Secretary General of the Saenuri Party. Personal life
Sinanyan and his wife Lori have four children.