Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) Board and Staff members traveled to California’s capital to meet with Governor Gavin Newsom to discuss policy priorities and issues of concern to the state’s Armenian American community. During the visit, delegation members also met with the Governor's Appointments Secretary Cathryn Rivera-Hernandez, Director of External Affairs Priscilla Cheng, Director of Civic Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Maricela Rodriguez, and Legal Affairs Secretary Catherine E. Lhamon.
“As the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization, we work on the local, state, and federal levels to promote our community’s interests and policy priorities,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “We are grateful to Governor Newsom for taking the time to meet with us to discuss our priorities and to connect us directly with members of his staff who are responsible for the policy areas we discussed. We look forward to delivering tangible results for our community in the coming months and to continuing our productive relationship with the Governor and his Administration in line with his stated agenda of promoting cultural diversity and ensuring inclusiveness for all Californians.”
The day kicked off with a meeting with longtime friend California State Senator Anthony Portantino, who later introduced the ANCA-WR Board of Directors on the floor during the regular session of the Senate, where several Senators and friends of the Armenian-American community welcomed the ANCA-WR delegation.
On behalf of the Board, Governor Newsom and Senator Portantino each received a signed copy of Matthew Karanian’s “The Armenian Highland: Western Armenia and the First Armenian Republic of 1918,” as a show of gratitude for their friendship and overall support of the Armenian Cause.
The delegation also met with Appointments Secretary Cathryn Rivera-Hernandez, who recently took on the responsibility of vetting and recommending over 3,000 senior staff as well as boards and commissions appointments to the Governor. ANCA-WR highlighted the need to ensure more equitable representation of the State’s diversity by also considering qualified Armenian-Americans for a number of vacancies in State government.
In a meeting with Director of Civic Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Maricela Rodriguez, the ANCA-WR's HyeVotes initiative for voter registration and participation as well as its creation of the first ever Armenian-American Complete Count Committee (AACCC) for Census 2020 were discussed at length in order to find ways to maximize our community's participation in elections and in the upcoming Census through proper engagement and allocation of resources.
The visit culminated with an hour long meeting with Governor Gavin Newsom, who has been a longtime friend and ally of the Armenian-American community, previously also serving as the State’s Lt. Governor and prior to that as the Mayor of San Francisco. Some topics of discussion included the ANCA-WR's Divest Turkey initiative and current bill AB1320 introduced by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian; California’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum and the need to include the Armenian experience in the final draft both at the high school level as well as at the university level through the pending bill AB1460; allocation of resources to ensure the appropriate teaching of the Armenian Genocide in public schools as codified in Education Code Sections 51220 and 51226.3; and other high priority topics. As a follow-up to the ANCA-WR's recent Legislative Trip to Armenia which included Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis who has been appointed by Governor Newsom to represent California in foreign affairs, the discussion also included further deepening and institutionalizing bilateral relations between California and Armenia and identifying prospects of strengthening California-Armenia trade and economic relations, including the trade office proposal introduced by Senator Portantino and currently pending as SB302 in the State Legislature.