By Joyce Abdulian
LOS ANGELES — Ken Khachigian, distinguished Armenian-American political consultant, speech writer, attorney and veteran of nine presidential campaigns, will be the Master of Ceremonies at the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Centennial Celebration Banquet on October 20, 2018 at the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. Highlighting the evening’s celebration will be the recognition of AMAA esteemed benefactors John Sheen, Stephen Philibosian, Sirpuhe and John Conte, and Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian. The Centennial Committee is honored to announce Ken Khachigian as Master of Ceremonies.
Khachigian is a senior partner in the Orange County office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. He was a longtime aide to President Richard Nixon and chief speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan, as well as senior adviser and principal strategist for Governor George Deukmejian, with whom he had an ongoing friendship. Ken is considered by many, to be the State’s premier Republican strategist and wordsmith, and is regarded as the “lion” of California GOP politics. He directed several campaigns, and is included on the 100 LIVES’ list of “100 Armenians Who Changed the World.”
Khachigian began his distinguished public service career in the White House immediately following his graduation from Columbia law school — rising to Deputy Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon. President Ronald Reagan commissioned him Special Consultant to the President in 1981where he served as chief speech writer and senior White House adviser. Beginning with President Reagan’s first inaugural address, Ken collaborated on dozens of major and historic political and policy speeches throughout the president’s two terms of office. He served the Reagan-Bush Campaign, being one of only two campaign aides who accompanied President Reagan on Air Force One throughout his 1984 landslide re-election. He was also a key advisor and strategist for George H. W. Bush’s successful 1988 election campaign.
Ken was raised with his three brothers, Melvin, Luther, and Ronald in Visalia, California on a 60 acre grape, walnut, cotton and alfalfa farm. The farm was founded by Ken’s paternal grandfather Harutune, who left Chomakhlou, a village in Gesaria, prior to the Armenian Genocide intending to earn money to be reunited with his wife and children. But as the Turks began implementing the Genocide, they purged the entire village of Chomakhlou, sending its families into the Syrian Desert. Ken’s father, Ohannes, survived, but lost his mother, brother and sister to starvation and disease in Damascus, Syria. Ohannes John Khachigian emigrated to the United States, arriving in Ellis Island in December, 1920 and began working the family farm with his father. He married Ken’s mother, Elizabeth, who was born in Fresno, California to parents originally from Kharpert. The Khachigian family was active in the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Yettem — a close-knit congregation of mostly Chomakhlou immigrants. Khachigian notes, “The AMAA was very dear to my parents over the years. The work it has done for tens of thousands in our international family is immeasurable. It remains vitally important to me to carry on the vision that my family left me. “
Ken’s wife, Meredith, served for three terms as Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of California. They have two daughters Merissa and Kristina, and four grandchildren, Kellan, Joseph, Sosie, and Sonny.