Ellis Island Medal of Honor

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Eight Armenians among 2012 Ellis Island medal recipients

June 07, 2012

New York - Nancy Arabian; Nishan Goudsouzian, MD; Kevork I. Karajerjian; Dalida Keuroghlian; Papken Megerian; Ohannes A. Nercessian, MD; Alice Petrossian and Joyce Philibosian Stein are among this year's recipients of the Ellis Island awards.

The Medal of Honor award recognizes remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage.

Both the United States House of Representatives and Senate officially recognize the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. Each year's recipients are read into the Congressional Record. Past medalists include six presidents, as well as Nobel Prize winners and leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government.

To date, over 1,800 American citizens have received Ellis Island Medals of Honor.

Alice Petrossian, Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) president.

Petrossian is recognized for her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of California's students, her focus on diversity and educational equity, and her support for English language learners and students from diverse ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

"Alice is extremely deserving of this national recognition," said ACSA Executive Director, Karen Stapf-Walters. "Her unique talents, her educational expertise and her unwavering commitment and service to public schools are inspiring. She is a role model to thousands of school leaders working to recognize and honor diversity and to improve the lives of students."

Petrossian recently retired from Pasadena Unified School District as the Chief Academic Officer/ Deputy Superintendent. Her 42 years of service to public education includes 31 years in Glendale Unified School District with 12 years as the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. While in Glendale she held a number of other administrative positions and spent 11 years as a teacher in both Glendale and Hayward, California.

Petrossian was appointed to several state boards and commissions by Governors Jerry Brown, George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis. Just to name a few, she served as Chair of the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing, President of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, and Trustee of the California State University System. For her service to the community, Petrossian was honored twice as Legislative Woman of the Year-43rd Assembly District in 1998 by Assemblyman James Rogan (Rep) and in 2008 by Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (Dem). She has presented and key noted at numerous conferences, seminars and banquets. In 2007, Petrossian was recognized by ACSA with its "Most Outstanding Administrator Award" and in 2011, she was elected State President to lead the 15,000 member organization.

Petrossian has continuously volunteered in organizations, especially those involving children's causes. She has served on the Boards of the Glendale Healthy Kids, Glendale Community Foundation, YWCA, PTA and many others. Most recently, she is active in collecting and shipping school supplies and clothing to orphanages and village schools in Armenia as well as providing professional development seminars for educators. For her volunteer work, Petrossian has received numerous prestigious awards and honors by community organizations, including California PTA, YWCA, Glendale Chamber of Commerce, American Red Cross, LA County Human Relations- John Anson Ford Award, Soroptimist International, Glendale NewsPress, California State University-Hayward, California State University-Los Angeles, USC, Armenian General Benevolent Union-Generation Next, Armenian Professional Society, Armenian Educational Foundation, Armenian National Committee, Armenian Relief Society, Armenian-American Chamber of Commerce, and many others.

Joyce Philibosian Stein, an ex-officio member of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Board of Directors.

Co-Chair of the AMAA National Orphan and Child Care Committee, Trustee of the Stephen Philibosian Foundation and ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees for Haigazian University, Joyce Philibosian Stein was honored on May 12 by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), sponsors of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor was presented to Mrs. Stein on Ellis Island, where 12 million immigrants entered the United States from 1892 to 1954.

Mrs. Stein is the daughter of the late Sirpuhe Philibosian Conte and Stephen Philibosian, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and a co-founder of Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon. Both having crossed the Ellis Island threshold, would be amazed to know their daughter was awarded this medal of honor. They were true Americans who in that spirit encouraged the very American pursuits of giving of oneself.

Mrs. Stein was born in New York City and attended Colby/Sawyer College, Southern Methodist University and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds an honorary degree from Haigazian University (LLD). She lived in St. Andrew's Scotland while her husband, Joe, attended St. Mary's College. She now resides with her husband in Indian Wells, CA. In keeping with her father's legacy, Mrs. Stein has wholeheartedly supported the AMAA and Haigazian University in leadership positions. Among her many other contributions to philanthropic causes, she served as a volunteer and major fundraiser for the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and as Chair of the "Daisy Day" Fund, when President Dwight Eisenhower was the Honorary Chairman. She has also served as a member of the Support Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Her husband, Joe, represents AMAA in the United Armenian Fund and is involved in numerous other Armenian organizations and projects. Her daughter, Stephanie Landes, is a current member of the AMAA Board of Directors and her daughter, Tina Segel, is a member of Haigazian University Board of Directors. She also actively serves on the LA Child and Orphan Committee and has sponsored the annual Luncheon and Fashion Show. Mrs. Stein is actively involved in the lives of her six grandchildren.

"The AMAA congratulates Joyce on this very prestigious award," said Levon Filian, Executive Director of the AMAA. "Joyce is a true leader who puts her heart and soul into each and every project to make the world a little better than how she found it."

The Medal of Honor is granted by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. Its mission is to honor and preserve diversity and to foster tolerance, respect and understanding among religious and ethnic groups. NECO sponsors a broad range of programs, events, educational initiatives and materials designed to cultivate understanding among individuals and groups. Additionally, NECO continues the commitment to the restoration and maintenance of Ellis Island, a living tribute to the courage and hope of all immigrants who have built America.

Seven Armenian Americans receive Ellis Island medals

March 25, 2011

Washington - Author Margaret Ajemian Ahnert, artist Michael Aram and entrepreneur and activist Gail Talanian O'Reilly are among this year's honorees of the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, the group reported on March 9.

The 25th annual Ellis Island Medals of Honor will be presented on New York's Ellis Island on May 14 and as in years past will "pay tribute to American citizens of diverse ethnic origins whose influence and achievements inspire and touch the lives of people everywhere."


Four other Armenian Americans receiving the award this year are Setrak Agonian, Kevork Bardakjian, Robert Hekemian and Peter Koutoujian.

Koutoujian is the Sheriff of Middlesex County in Massachusetts and former member of the state assembly. As assemblyman he was instrumental in organizing annual state commemorations of the Armenian Genocide and in creation of the Armenian Heritage Park, now being built in Boston.

Bardakjian is Marie Manoogian Professor of Armenian language and literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and has authored a number of books on the subjects as well Armenian history.

Agonian of Woodside, NY is owner of International Creative Metal and master metals craftsman, a skill he learned in his native Bulgaria, and put to work for various projects from New York area Armenian churches and United Nations headquarters and Arlington National Cemetery.

Hekemian is president and CEO of Hekemian & Co., Inc., a diversified real estate development and management company located in Hackensack, NJ, and an executive with Oritani Financial Corp. He also serves on the boards of New York Philharmonic and Hackensack University Medical Center.

The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation's most prestigious awards. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record.

To date, more than 1,800 American citizens have received Ellis Island Medals of Honor. Past recipients include six Presidents of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity.

For more information connect to http://www.neco.org/.